How Belichick addressed benching Pop Douglas after costly fumble originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
During an otherwise efficient drive for the New England Patriots offense, the rookie wide receiver had the ball punched out by Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb. The turnover shifted the momentum back in Miami’s favor and proved to be the turning point of the 24-17 Patriots defeat.
Douglas was targeted twice on his first six snaps in the game. He returned punts but didn’t get any offensive snaps after his fumble.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked after the game about Douglas’ benching.
“We played all of our skill players,” he answered.
But why didn’t Douglas get any offensive snaps in the second half?
“Look, we had a lot of production on offense,” Belichick said. “(DeVante) Parker had a good day. (Mike) Gesicki had a good day. Hunter (Henry) had a good day. JuJu (Smith-Schuster), KB (Kendrick Bourne). A lot of good players. Can’t play everybody.”
Douglas took the unfortunate mishap as a learning experience. The sixth-rounder out of Liberty spent his time on the sideline holding the football, reminding himself that ball security is key.
“Something to learn from,” he told reporters after the game. “Whenever I get back in I’ll make it count.”
The Patriots’ offense certainly could’ve used Douglas down the stretch. While quarterback Mac Jones and Co. kept it interesting until the final minute, the unit was simply far too inconsistent. Jones, who was guilty of a costly turnover of his own late in the third quarter, shared a positive message for the young wideout.
“Pop is a young player, just trying to keep him encouraged,” Jones said during his postgame press conference. “He’s one of my close buddies. … I told him just keep your head up.”
Douglas will hope to get a chance to help the Patriots earn a much-needed Week 3 win over the New York Jets next Sunday.