Kendrick Bourne frustrated with Patriots’ play-calling
Other than dealing with another brutal loss on Thursday night, it’s more evident than ever the Patriots’ offense is beyond frustrated with how their season has progressed. Despite the apparent disconnect offensively, players have remained optimistic when speaking to the media regarding the remainder of the season, sticking to the Patriots’ way of answering the hard-hitting questions throughout the week.
But that changed after the latest loss, as Mac Jones and Kendrick Bourne both expressed their thoughts on the offense’s performance and the aggravation stemming from it.
After a video of Mac Jones having an expletive-filled outburst on the sideline went viral on social media, Kendrick Bourne spoke candidly to the press to make his frustrations clear, voicing disappointment in the play-calling and the desire to see less predictable game planning in the future.
"“Yeah, man, we need to scheme up better. We need to know what they’re doing. We need to know what they wanna do on third down. We’re kind of sporadic. They call this, and we call that, and it falls right into what they want. We need to have it where they’re falling into what we want and things like that.”"
Although this week 13 game was vastly different from the last time the Patriots and Bills met, it proved the two teams are far apart in how they perform.
New England’s defense held it down in the second half, allowing just one touchdown through the final 30 minutes, but the offense could not take advantage of the absence of key players on the Bills’ defense to get back into the game.
Bourne mentioned that while simultaneously calling out Matt Patricia’s questionable play-calling.
"“No Von Miller, we gotta take advantage of that. No Micah Hyde, things like that. We have to take advantage of those things. They’re playing a different scheme. They’re more soft in what they’re doing, so they’re more conservative. We’ve gotta take advantage and not just have 5-yard throws and moving slow. We need to be able to attack and put pressure on the defense.”"
Patricia’s game planning has been scrutinized heavily this season, and it has generally been warranted. Knowing how formidable an opponent Buffalo is, the play-calling didn’t seem to prepare the offense for success, even with the knowledge of top-name players being absent from the Bills’ defense.
New England’s offense did come alive early, after a quick three-and-out to start the game. They followed that drive up with an excellent play to Marcus Jones that was run back for a 48-yard touchdown. But that energy fizzled out quickly as they struggled to move the ball down the field for the rest of the game.
Continuing with expressing his overall frustration, Bourne mentioned those struggles and defended his quarterback in the process, who has dealt with a lot of unfair judgment in just his second NFL season.
"“We’ve got to get the ball downfield. Mac needs more time. He’s obviously running around. It’s hard to get the ball downfield when you can’t really have time to throw. No knock to the line, it’s just what we need to work on. The receivers can’t do nothing if the ball can’t get downfield, if we can’t throw it past five yards, it’s going to be a long game.”"
One of the biggest problems offensively this year has been the inconsistency from the offensive line, regardless of Bourne not wanting to call them out directly necessarily. Jones has had little time to make a play before he is rushed, often due to uncovered defensive players coming after him, resulting in failed plays, sacks, or turnovers.
Thursday’s game was another poor showing for the lineman. Despite showing up on the injury report earlier in the day with an illness, Trent Brown played the entire game. But his performance suffered, likely due to his sickness. Isaiah Wynn was out with an injury, which made Conor McDermott start in his place, who was signed from the Jets just nine days earlier.
Adjustments weren’t made to keep up with what the Bills’ defense was showing them, and it felt like Patricia didn’t trust Jones to throw downfield. Of the quarterback’s 22 completions, more than half were passes of less than five yards, exactly what Bourne and others were frustrated about.
Seeing Jones’ performance last week against the Vikings, it’s clear nothing is hindering him from performing well on his own. But the play-calling’s lack of complexity and predictability continues to restrict his success, leading to a build-up of irritation rightfully voiced by Bourne this week.
The receiver credited the Bills for their well-played game while also making it clear that something needs to change for the offense to be successful in the future.
"“Shout out to the Bills, they did a great job controlling the clock, keeping us off the field, keeping us cold and stagnant. It was a great game plan they had. We have to be able to get the ball downfield. We have plays, We can’t get to them. We’re calling them. They’re just not working, so we’re throwing 5-yard routes and that’s what we catch so it looks one way. Hopefully we can get Mac more time so he can make the plays.”"
Regarding the current state of the offense overall, Bourne acknowledged the team’s talent but also emphasized the need for all to play harder and better from now on.
"“We’ve got plenty of players. We’ve got every tool to be great. On the line, too. It’s just about playing harder. We have to play harder. We have to want it more. That’s what I would say as a group, for everyone.”"
It will be interesting to see how the Patriots’ season progresses after such a putrid game and how Belichick will react when hearing what Bourne had to say. Because New England players are historically tight-lipped when speaking to the media, Bourne’s honesty has been shocking to most, even though the consensus agrees with his points.