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The Importance of Ball Security: Bill Belichick Stands by Benching of Rookie Demario Douglas

Bill Belichick

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stood by his benching of rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas after a fumble but kept him in the game as a punt returner.

“We have other skill players on offense, too,” Belichick said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill” show on Monday, September 18. “There’s nothing more important than ball security.”

Douglas fumbled in the first quarter of the Patriots’ 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 17. He had an otherwise solid start with two catches for 19 yards, and Douglas averaged six yards on his two punt returns.

“We talk about ball security all the time. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t talk about it,” Belichick said. “The days we’re on the practice field, we always work on it, and then talk about it as things come up during the practice. Both sides of the ball — taking the ball away and taking care of the ball.”

“So those are constants for everybody,” Belichick added. “Everybody who touches the ball is important to ball security. We spend a lot of time and effort on it. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Douglas, who won the punt return job in training camp, at least had enough trust from Belichick to stay out on special teams.

Bill Belichick Took Similar Approach in Press Conference

Belichick took a similar approach shortly after the game when he talked with the media regarding his decision. The Patriots moved the ball 40 yards on that drive before the Douglas fumble and never went further 35 yards on a drive again until the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, we played all of our skill players,” Belichick told reporters regarding Douglas. “They all played.”

“Look, we had a lot of production on offense,” Belichick added. “[DeVante] Parker had a good day. [Mike] Gesicki had a good day. Hunter [Henry] had a good day, JuJu [Smith-Schuster], KB [Kendrick Bourne]. So, you know, a lot of good players. Can’t play everybody.”

Parker led Patriots receivers with six catches for 57 yards, and Henry had six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. Gesicki, a former Dolphins tight end, tallied five receptions for 33 yards in his first game against his former squad.

Smith-Schuster, who dealt with benching in Week 1, posted five receptions for 28 — again shy of expectations for a $25 million receiver. Bourne, who has been on the hot seat in the past year, had four catches for 29 yards.

“We played all of our — yeah, look, we could talk about this every week,” Belichick responded. “And there will be somebody that played less than somebody else. We’ve got a lot of skilled players.”

Bill Belichick Has Familiar Message for Patriots Despite 0-2 Start

Belichick didn’t allude to any panic despite the franchise’s worst start since 2001 when he coached the Patriots to the team’s first-ever Super Bowl win.

“Same message every week,” Belichick said on WEEI. “Go out there and leave it all on the field and then when it’s over, watch the film, correct the mistakes and then get ready for the Jets, have a great week of preparation, and then go down there and be ready to play our best football.”

Matthew Davis covers the NFL for Heavy.com, focusing on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. As a contributing writer to the StarTribune, he has also covered Minnesota prep sports since 2016. More about Matthew Davis

The Importance of Ball Security: Bill Belichick Stands by Benching of Rookie Demario Douglas

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick recently defended his decision to bench rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas after a crucial fumble in a game against the Miami Dolphins. Despite the fumble, Belichick trusted Douglas enough to continue playing him as a punt returner due to his skills in that area.

Emphasizing Ball Security

Belichick expressed the importance of ball security in an interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill” show. He stated that there is nothing more important than ball security and that the team consistently emphasizes it. The Patriots prioritize ball security in their daily discussions and practice routines to ensure that every player who touches the ball understands its significance.

Douglas’ Performance and Trust

Despite the fumble, Douglas had a solid start with two catches for 19 yards and averaged six yards on punt returns. Belichick’s decision to keep him in the game as the punt returner shows a level of trust in Douglas’s abilities. However, the rookie wide receiver will need to improve his ball security skills to avoid future issues.

Belichick’s Press Conference

During a press conference after the game, Belichick was asked about his decision to bench Douglas. He responded by highlighting the various skill players on the team who had a good performance and stated that it’s impossible to play everyone. Belichick emphasized the team’s overall production on offense, indicating that other players stepped up to compensate for Douglas’s absence.

A Familiar Message Despite the 0-2 Start

Despite the Patriots’ 0-2 start, Belichick remained calm and focused on the upcoming challenges. He reiterated the team’s consistent message of leaving everything on the field, analyzing mistakes through film study, and preparing for the next opponent. Belichick emphasized the importance of maximizing preparation and playing their best football in upcoming games.

Written by Matthew Davis


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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