The Patriots are now 0-2 against the Dolphins this season after a 31-17 defeat in Miami, bringing their division record down to 2-2 and their overall to 2-6. With the outlier of the Buffalo game the previous week, this has been a tough season for New England, especially on offense. One of the most consistent offensive pieces this season has been Kendrick Bourne, who Hauled in three balls for 36 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.
Unfortunately, it looks like Bourne’s season will be over due to a torn ACL he suffered on the first play of the fourth quarter. Bourne caught a pass on a third and nine on a comeback route before getting tackled near the sideline by Eli Apple, Bourne stayed down holding his right knee, it did not look good.
Bourne’s injury came at a pretty bad time, with him being in a contract year, and on pace to have one of his best seasons yet, already having 37 receptions for 406 yards and four touchdowns. The seven-year veteran got off to a hot start this season, catching two touchdowns and putting up 64 yards receiving against the Eagles in week one.
Bourne would have a couple of quiet games until he stood out once again in Vegas, catching ten passes for 89 yards in the loss. The following week against the Bills, number 84 would impress once again, making six receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Bourne's touchdown against Buffalo would put the Pats up 23-10 late in the thrilling upset win.
It has been obvious so far this season that Bourne has been one of the focal points of this struggling Patriots offense, having at least two receptions in every game this season. Besides the sixth-round rookie Demario Douglas, Bourne has been the most dynamic receiver in New England, being ranked 11th in ESPN’s receiver tracking metrics before the game. Bourne has an obvious explosiveness after the catch, being able to take a five-yard reception, break a couple tackles, and turn it into a forty-yard gain.
Bourne has shown big play potential since his first season in New England in 2021, after coming over from San Francisco. Bourne signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and he would put up 1,769 yards and 11 touchdowns in the four years he spent there.
In his debut season with the Patriots, Bourne had a couple of big games against Tennessee and Cleveland, ending the campaign with 800 yards on 55 receptions as well as scoring five touchdowns, this would be the best season of his career thus far.
The following year, in a frustrating offensive system, Bourne was rather quiet, having just 35 receptions for 434 yards and one touchdown. Some speculated that Bourne was purposely fazed out of the offense for disciplinary reasons in ’22, but that didn’t seem to be the case when Bourne had a career day against the Bengals midway through the season.
As stated before, Bourne is in the last year of his three-year $22.5 million contract he signed in the ’21 offseason, so this injury makes his future in New England unclear. As the Patriots started to string disappointing losses together, many fans and analysts wondered if they should start shopping pieces such as Bourne to start acquiring assets for the future and go full-tank mode for a high pick.
One of the big reasons why the Patriots have a losing record is injuries, Bourne has now been added to a growing list of key players that are likely to miss the rest of the season, (Gonzalez, Judon, and Marcus Jones) as well as being the seventh player to be placed on injured reserve. It is hard to stack wins when you have the injury bug, with New England losing Bourne, DaVante Parker, and Ja'Whaun Bentley in the Miami game alone. New England also has many other players in and out of the lineup with ongoing injuries.
It appears that Bourne tore his right ACL, this will sideline him for the rest of the season, and the recovery window looks to be at least six months. A torn ACL for any player is an obvious setback, especially for a veteran player like Bourne, who is set to turn 29 in August. This injury may factor into the team’s decision on whether to re-sign him or not.
It will be interesting to see where the Patriots will fall at the end of the season, there is a potential for them to have a lot of assets in the offseason, with them currently holding the fifth overall pick in the draft. New England is already set to have a good amount of spending money and cap space in the offseason, but it is hard to imagine that any Bill Belichick-coached squad will purposely tank. At the same time, with Bourne being added to the long list of injured Patriots, the road ahead will be difficult, but this team is still going to try to win, no matter who is or isn’t on the field.
On the bright side, these injuries will let younger and/or less experienced players get on the field, such as Douglas, Thornton, and Boutte, among others. With a losing record and mounting injuries midway through the season, the Patriots must let their younger guys play to see what they have. Seeing the younger guys in a real game is going to be the only way to determine what they are and if they can have a significant role in the team going forward... you never know, you might just have a hidden superstar.
This coming Sunday, the Patriots will host the 3-5 Washington Commanders, who are coming off a close loss to the defending NFC-Champion Eagles. The Commanders are a frisky and unpredictable team, with them pulling out a few close wins, scoring over thirty in three of their games, and getting blown out in two of their losses. In short, it's hard to know what to expect with this team, although Belichick usually does well against inexperienced quarterbacks such as Sam Howell, who is starting in his first NFL season. No matter how the game goes, the Patriots will certainly be missing Kendrick Bourne.
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