New England Patriots needed Malcolm Butler more than Belichick’s ego

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Malcolm Butler
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Malcolm Butler /

After a disappointing 41-33 Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the New England Patriots must explain why cornerback Malcolm Butler did not play.

Let’s be honest, the New England Patriots lost to a more balanced team.  Sure, they have the G.O.A.T. himself, Tom Brady, but they needed more.  As great as Brady played, the Philadelphia Eagles had a field day with the Pats’ secondary, en route to a 41-33 Super Bowl win for Philly.  Even Brady’s 505 yards and three touchdowns weren’t enough.

New England’s defense, which has had one of their worst years in the Brady-Belichick era, came up flat on Sunday. A lot of that has to do with the lack of athleticism from their linebackers.  Some of it is a result of the benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler.

According to SB Nation, Butler played in 98 percent of his defensive snaps int he regular season.  It was reported before kickoff that he was suffering from an illness.  However, he did suit up and looked ready on the sidelines.

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Nonetheless, Butler did not play one defensive snap, and was clearly angry after the game.  He told ESPN’s Mark Reiss that the team gave up on him.

His replacement was Eric Rowe, who gave up an integral 34-yard touchdown to star receiver Alshon Jeffrey.  Jeffery and three receptions for 73 yards.  Foles had another stellar performance, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

What’s even more peculiar, is the lack of good decision making by the Patriots organization in this game.  It was’t until the second half until they finally put Stephon Gilmore on Jeffrey.  Jeffrey did not catch a pass in the second half after the switch was made.  As a result, head coach Doug Pederson was able to exploit the weaknesses in the Patriots’ man coverage pretty easily.

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All in all, this is another instance of Bill Belichick concealing information about his team for the purpose of winning.  Except this time around, not playing Butler might have cost them that shot.