Guregian: The Patriots aren’t helping Kendrick Bourne or DeVante Parker

FOXBORO — Two games into the season, the Patriots are averaging 12 points per game. That’s third worst in the NFL behind Indianapolis and Dallas.

While the Patriots defense has held up its end, the offensive output clearly has to improve if the Pats want to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Where to start?

Obviously, quarterback Mac Jones has to play better, and the tight ends need to be more involved, but there’s one other area that’s screaming for improvement.

Specifically, the Patriots need more from wide receivers DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne. Neither has been utilized to the fullest extent, or in one case, employed hardly at all.

To this point, they can be classified as a pair of untapped assets.

Even with Jakobi Meyers firmly established as Jones’ go-to-guy, and Nelson Agholor providing some splash on the outside, the Patriots need to squeeze more out of one or both of these receivers.

Let’s start with Parker.

Over the course of the first two games, he’s been on the field for a majority of the offensive snaps. And produced next to nothing.

He’s had just one catch for nine yards on four targets. Lil’ Jordan Humphrey has as many catches. Making matters worse, two of Parker’s targets have resulted in Jones’ interceptions.

So something has to change. Parker needs to get more involved, or ultimately have his snap count whittled down.

On the surface, Parker isn’t a true No. 1, per se, but in 2019 while with the Dolphins, he posted No. 1-like numbers: 72 catches, 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns.

That shoots him above everyone in the Patriots’ receiver room, but if he’s only here to try and make contested catches on 50-50 balls, that’s not going to cut it.

Play-caller Matt Patricia and the collective of coaches putting the offensive game plan together every week need to put Parker in better positions to succeed. Forget the jump balls. Patricia needs to do a better job of scheming him open in the weeks to come, starting Sunday against the Ravens.

That means having him run more quick slants, in-cuts, or short crossers. Just get him the ball, and see where it goes from there.

While it was easy to see his contested-catch ability during the summer, when observers noted he was the type of receiver the Patriots wanted N’Keal Harry to become, it behooves Patricia to dial up plays that put the ball in his hands with room to run.

Because right now, the back-shoulder throws, deep fades, and 50-50 balls aren’t working. Part of that is on Jones, part on Parker, but it also goes back to play-calling.

Parker’s strength isn’t gaining separation on go-routes. He hasn’t been able to beat anyone down the field. So Patricia needs to see if he can spring Parker with shorter routes over the middle.

If the Patriots try that, and Parker remains unproductive, cut back on his snaps, and hand them over to Bourne.

CBS analyst Charles Davis, who called the Patriots-Steelers game on Sunday, sounded a bit skeptical when it came to what more Parker could provide, simply based on the receivers history in Miami.

“Is he dynamic enough to find a way to make some of those plays? To be determined,” said Davis, when reached Wednesday. “That’s why they traded for him. But again, look at his track record through the years. It’s not a criticism or a shot. I’m just going on pure record. His one big year in the league was 2019. And it’s almost starting to be like it’s an outlier, as opposed to a predictor.”

That was the year Parker had a big game against Stephon Gilmore, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He caught eight passes for 137 yards, running a variety of different routes to get the better of the then-Patriots shutdown corner.

So the Pats need to see if they can get Parker on track with some easier throws. If they accomplish that mission, the tougher contested catches should follow.

Bottom line: Parker’s got to get going or take a seat.

As for Bourne, his play in training camp didn’t help his cause. He was behind Meyers, Agholor, and Parker on the depth chart, and was also headed behind Tyquan Thornton prior to the rookie receiver being put on IR with a broken collarbone. He also showed up late for a meeting before the Carolina preseason game, which didn’t help his cause.

But he appears to be back on the right track. After getting on the field for just two snaps against the Dolphins, he had 24 against the Steelers. He also made his share of plays.

Basically, Bourne needs to see more action for a couple of significant reasons.

First, he has chemistry with Jones. Second, he’s their most explosive player with the ball in his hands.

Moreover, he’s producing when he gets a chance. Parker isn’t.

“I think Mac Jones likes him, and trusts him,” Davis said of Bourne. “I asked Mac about it last week. He said he wasn’t worried about (Bourne) because ‘we have banked reps. We can get right back to it whenever he gets back on the field.’

“So I think we’ll see more of him. I really do,” added Davis. “He’s a good player.”

The offense needs an infusion of Bourne’s explosiveness. If that means cutting back on an unproductive Parker, so be it.

If Parker starts to produce, and Bourne does as well when he gets on the field, that would solve a lot of problems for the offense.

At the very least, they have to try to flush something out of Parker. They also have to get Bourne more involved, even if that’s with jet sweeps or plays coming out of the back field.

It’s on Patricia to get the most out of his assets.