Life without Kendrick Bourne begins today as the New England Patriots host the Washington Commanders. The offense took a major blow in losing wide receiver Kendrick Bourne for the season in last week's 31-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Now, the offense faces a major question that's simple: who will be the next top receiver for Mac Jones?
The answer is easy to figure out. It's the rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas. But why exactly is it Douglas over guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Jalen Reagor and the other rookie receiver Kayshon Boutte?
Reagor and Bourne haven't seen the field much, JuJu has been quite the disappointment, and Parker is having a down year after getting an extension this offseason.
But why have the Patriots' "big money" receivers been quiet this year?
So far this season JuJu Smith-Schuster has 15 catches for 89 yards and one touchdown. Yes, he has missed two games because of injury, but still, JuJu is not giving himself any chances to make plays or even, at times, make an effort to get open for Mac Jones. In the offseason, the Patriots signed JuJu to a 3-year, 25.5 million dollar deal. He so far has not lived up to his deal.
Then there's DeVante Parker.
In the offseason, the Patriots gave Parker a 3-year, 33-million-dollar extension. How has Parker lived up to it so far? Parker has 15 receptions for 158 yards and no touchdowns on the year. For someone who was given an extension this offseason, Parker has wildly underperformed.
With all of that being said, Demario Douglas, each week has taken strides in being the top receiver for Mac Jones for the remainder of the season. Douglas has exploded for big plays this season and has extended drives on third down. He has 19 receptions for 222 yards but has yet to find the end zone.
With Bourne now out, Douglas will be relied on more by Mac Jones to extend drives and plays while the other receivers will have to try and catch up to Douglas' production. Considering that Douglas is averaging over 7 yards per reception and has a catch rate of over 60 percent, it's safe to say that Douglas' role will expand as the Patriots enter the second half of the season.
Plus, all NFL fans and analysts know how the Patriots love to use their slot or shorter receivers.