Bill O'Brien Bungled Malik Cunningham's Debut

If you blinked, you might've missed it.
Bill O'Brien didn't do much to get Malik Cunningham involved in his NFL debut on Sunday.
Bill O'Brien didn't do much to get Malik Cunningham involved in his NFL debut on Sunday. / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots can't seem to do anything right these days, especially at the quarterback position.

The Patriots have cycled through several quarterbacks since Tom Brady left without much success. Mac Jones seemed to have some potential, but New England has done everything possible to squander it.

Rookie QB Malik Cunningham has some potential, too, but Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien didn't let us see much of it during Cunningham's much anticipated NFL debut in Week 6 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Malik Cunningham NFL Debut

Cunningham was on the field for all of 6 snaps on Sunday, and unless you were paying close attention you probably didn't even realize he was there. O'Brien didn't give Cunningham anything to do, much less the opportunity to show off the physical skills that we've been hearing so much about.

Instead, O'Brien relegated Cunningham to a stand-in. He didn't attempt any passes or rushing attempts, and his biggest contribution was handing the ball off once. He also happened to be on the field for Ezekiel Elliott's rushing touchdown in the third quarter, although he was merely a decoy on a direct snap to Zeke in the wildcat formation.

So yeah, not a great use of Cunningham in his first NFL game. Patriots fans were certainly hoping for more after Cunningham was signed from the practice squad on a three-year deal prior to the game, but it's still Jones' offense for now. Perhaps O'Brien wants to ease Cunningham in and get him acclimated to NFL games before fully unleashing him.

Still, New England fans can only wonder whether Week 6 would've turned out differently if Cunningham had been allowed to do anything noteworthy. Jones turned in another disappointing performance, finishing with 200 passing yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception and 1 safety. Many expected Jones to be benched for the start of the second half after getting picked off late in the first half, but he stayed in the game until the bitter end as the Patriots lost again, 21-17.

New England will likely get blown out by the Buffalo Bills in Week 7, so hopefully we get a more extensive look at Cunningham this weekend and see what he can actually do.

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