Impressive stat further proves the Patriots need to prioritize Kendrick Bourne

Oct 3, 2021; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) celebrates a
Oct 3, 2021; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) celebrates a / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

After his first season with the Patriots in 2021, when he far defied all those questioning his talent and fit on the team, fans have been demanding Kendrick Bourne be more involved offensively.

Expectations were high for the receiver coming into his second season with New England, hoping to build upon what he accomplished quickly with his new team. But he faced a roadblock in the shape of Matt Patricia, who allegedly took issue with Bourne during the offseason and appeared to exclude him from nearly all game plans for the entire season.

His explosive play style was apparent when he was given an opportunity, and his performance consistently reenergized an otherwise lackluster offense. And despite bearing witness to that in person, Patricia didn't budge and kept Bourne sidelined anyway.

It was a longstanding issue to be added to the list of questionable decisions made throughout the 2022 season. Fans and media alike continued scratching their heads in genuine confusion seeing Bourne on the bench when the offense was struggling week in and week out.

Reporters asked Bill Belichick and others about the apparent effort to keep him out of games but were met with bland responses with no honest answers. Bourne was also asked about the situation, maintaining the typical Patriot way of responding until later in the season when he expressed his frustration.

He clarified what he felt were the problems of last season regarding himself and admitted that he didn't give his best effort throughout the year. Although that could be true, as he has no reason to lie about something like that, it's clear that Patricia's inexperience had a tremendous impact on Bourne and the entire offense, potentially, if not likely, leading to a lot of decline in overall performance.

Now that the former defensive coordinator has moved on to the Eagles, and Bill O'Brien was re-hired as the offensive coordinator, his presence has already made a world of difference with the offense, so much so Bourne and Mac Jones have been the most vocal about their excitement about working with their new coach.

So far this preseason, we've seen Bourne more involved on the field as the summer has progressed, and he was even the prioritized receiver for Jones through the first few drives the starters played against the Packers last week. If that is any indication of how O'Brien feels about Bourne's talent, then we are definitely in for a more productive season from the receiver.

And a newer statistic from PFF reveals why that is the correct thing to do.

Although he's not the receiver on the team known for being the most successful at this, as that is DeVante Parker's label, Bourne has the second-highest rating for contested catches among all wide receivers since 2021, sitting only behind Mike Evans.

Considering the respect Evans receives for his performance every season, this is good placement for Bourne, right?

As we usher in the start of the new season in just a few short weeks, the hope is that we see Bourne on the field a lot more than last year. There's not much more a player can do to prove their worth to a team. Because the Patriots intend to get back on track, they'll need to utilize Bourne to be one of the leaders to get there, especially as he becomes a free agent at the end of the year.