What Bill O’Brien said about Demario Douglas’ benching, costly fumble

"I think Pop will learn from what happened on Sunday."

Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb, right, strips the ball from the hands of New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.
Demario Douglas only logged six offensive snaps during Sunday's loss to Miami. AP Photo/Steven Senne

On a night where the Patriots’ offense struggled to generate explosive plays in a frustrating Week 2 loss to the Dolphins, the sight of Demario Douglas planted on the sideline loomed large.

The 2023 sixth-round pick was limited to just six offensive snaps on Sunday against Miami, with zero coming his way after he was knocked for a costly fumble at the end of the first quarter.

It was a sudden shift in Douglas’ usage. He was targeted by Mac Jones on two of those six snaps against the Dolphins. The rookie has already asserted himself as a featured cog in New England’s offense, especially after logging 33 offensive snaps against the Eagles in Week 1.


Given Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ repeated emphasis on ball security and the slim margin of error usually handed to first-year players, it seemed rather obvious that Douglas’ benching against Miami was a result of landing in Belichick’s doghouse following a turnover.

As expected, Belichick didn’t delve much into any disciplinary-related motives behind Douglas’ drop in snaps on Sunday.

“Look, we had a lot of production on offense,” Belichick said on Sunday. “[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.”

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien echoed a similar sentiment in regards to Douglas’ phased-out reps revolving more around the team’s offensive gameplan.

“Ball security’s obviously a huge part of what we preach,” O’Brien said. “I would say in the game… I have a lot of confidence in “Pop” Douglas, as I do all the players that we have. I think as the game played out the other day — because of what we did, the packages that we went to, whether we were in no-huddle or some of the things that we were doing — it just wasn’t Pop on the field.


“At the end of the day, I think we have to do a better job of continuing to get everybody involved in the gameplan throughout the game, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Even though the Patriots’ offense started to gain build momentum as Sunday’s game continued, New England has been hampered in its attempted second-half comebacks against the Eagles and Dolphins by a dearth of big-play capabilities.

During Sunday’s loss against Miami, the Patriots’ longest play on offense came by way of a Mac Jones scramble for 18 total yards.

At 5-foot-8, Douglas isn’t going to be a target for Jones when it comes to contested throws along the sideline. But the 22-year-old wideout out of Liberty is arguably New England’s most dynamic pass-catcher thanks to his crisp route-running and his stop-and-start cutting ability.

Despite his momentum-sapping miscue against Miami, an accountable Douglas took his benching in stride following the Patriots’ 24-17 loss.

“I practice hard. This is something to learn from,” Douglas said Sunday. “Whenever I get back in there, I’m going to make it count.”

As the Patriots look to get back on track against a stout Jets defense on Sunday, O’Brien and New England’s offense needs to find a way to weave a skilled player like Douglas back into their gameplan in what is already looking like a must-win game.


“I think Pop will learn from what happened on Sunday,” O’Brien said. “But Pop has had a really good, in my opinion, rookie experience so far. From OTAs to training camp to where we are now, Pop has done a lot of really good things. So, we like when Pop’s in the game.”


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on