New England Patriots sixth-round pick Demario Douglas found himself in Bill Belichick’s doghouse after a fumble in the first quarter of the team’s 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday night. One Patriots legend put his old coach on blast for benching the talented young receiver.
As anyone following the Patriots know, this is a usual teaching tactic by Belichick. If a player doesn’t secure the ball, it usually leads to sometime in the doghouse, especially young players. But, in Douglas’ defense, he wasn’t being careless with the ball in trying to gain yards after the catch, it was a great defensive play by the Dolphins’ defender.
Patriots legend doesn’t agree with Belichick benching Demario Douglas
Still, it’s a lesson Belichick wants to lay out for his rookies. Aside from fielding punts, Demario Douglas didn’t an offensive snap again. Given where the offense is as far as talent, former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was vocal over the decision; a decision he did not agree with.
Appearing on the“Eye on Foxborough” podcast, Harrison talked about the decision and displayed some frustrations fans have when it comes to Belichick and how he handles his roster and young talent at times.
"“I didn’t agree with coach Belichick when he took the kid out because the kid – he’s trying his best. He’s making moves. And it’s not like he wasn’t trying to protect the football. He was trying to make plays,” Harrison said, as per Patriots Wire. “You don’t expect the 270-pound guy – 6’4” – coming that’s gonna swipe the ball. When Ezekiel Elliott fumbled last week, I didn’t see him getting taken out the game. And this is a veteran player, a guy that has carried the ball thousands of times, established player in the league and then a rookie does it. He takes them out and you can really hamper a kid’s confidence, especially (someone), who I believe is going to be a very dynamic playmaker for the Patriots.”"
While Belichick isn’t admitting to the benching (he never does), it was obvious and perhaps a better lesson would’ve been to put him back out there to have an opportunity to atone for his miscue. This stands out a bit more because there is a lot of excitement surrounding the potential of “Pop” Douglas. Also, the Patriots don’t have many explosive players on the offensive side. Belichick should be trying to build confidence instead of taking talent away from the offense.
That is something Harrison said he would’ve done if he was the coach.
"“I just didn’t agree with him taking him out. I’m not the coach. But in that situation, if I’m coaching, I don’t take him out,” Harrison continued. “I let him stand. I continue to feed him the ball and try to build up his confidence because he’s gonna be a good player. I mean, what does that do? Other than mess with his confidence.”"
As Harrison pointed out, Belichick hasn’t been consistent with who he benches. Elliott was put right back out there on the field the week prior. But, as far as rookies go, Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson saw a similar fate when he fumbled during his first touches as a rookie. Stevenson ended up benched for the rest of that game as well as three games after.
That can’t happen with Demario Douglas. If the Patriots want to know what they have in the sixth-round pick out of Liberty, he has to play, he must play. Belichick has to realize he has a young team he’s trying to help grow. This is not the Super Bowl contending teams led by Tom Brady he is use to coaching.
This 0-2 Patriots team can’t afford to bench their most talent players games at a time.