As the Super Bowl came to an end it was clear that the issues with the Patriots was on the defensive side of the ball. The inability to stop the diverse Eagles offensive attack proved fatal in the long run. Missing from the Patriots defense Sunday night was star cornerback Malcolm Butler. Amazingly, Butler played a total of one snap (on special teams) the entire game. Removing this vital piece of the defensive puzzle seemed detrimental. I’m not going to say that if Butler is in the game that the Patriots win but, he sure would have givin them a better chance. Belichick reportedly made the decision very close to game time. Many players did not hear of the decision until pregame routines began. The decision was questioned by former Patriot Brandon Browner on social media, stating that “a lockeroom was divided pre game”.
Reports came out Monday on the reasoning behind Belichick’s benching of Butler. These reports state three main problems: Butler had been battling illness, Butler had a poor week of practice, and lastly Butler violated a minor team rule.
Butler was sick prior to the lead up to the game, his sickness actually caused him to arrive in Minneapolis a day behind the rest of the Patriots roster. It is believed that this sickness contributed to a poor week of practice. In practice, Butler was removed from some of his first team reps but, no one made any means of the actions. The last reported issues stands out the most to me. Butler reportedly violated a minor team rule. Butlers is believed to have been out past curfew, causing issues with the coaching staff. If true, Belichick stood by his belief in the “system” rather than favoring any one player.
After seeing the results of the decision we have to, for once, question Belichick. Did Belichick have too much pride to go back on his decision? At halftime, it was clearly evident that the Patriots defense needed a change. Yet, Belichick was still unwilling to give Butler a chance. It shocks me that a player who played in 97.83 percent of the regular season snaps didn’t even get a shot at making a difference in the biggest game of the year. Belichick clearly made a moral judgement. The craziest part is that Belichick will never have to explain or answer to any of us on the reason behind his judgement because he is Bill Belichick.
As for Malcolm Butler, Butler will be an unrestricted free agent this off-season and I would be shocked if he chose to return to New England after going through this turmoil. Butler clearly showed remorse as tears rolled down his face during the National Anthem. The future is bright for this young star, and I hope that this moment does not haunt him for the rest of his career.
As of February 6th, Butler has come out and refuted all reports of disciplinary issues. Stating that he had no such problems leading up to the Super Bowl.