New England Patriots: 3 takeaways on Brady/Belichick/Kraft exposé book

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Former New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

No. 1: Why Malcolm Butler was benched in Super Bowl LII by the New England Patriots

Arguably the biggest piece of information Wickersham got his hands on wasn’t even tied into Brady, Belichick, or Kraft. Many fans have wondered why on earth Malcolm Butler, one of the Patriots top cornerbacks in the 2017 season, was benched during Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. Butler’s benching hurt a defense that allowed 41 points to the Eagles and Nick Foles, and is a big reason they ended up losing the game.

The thing is, nobody ever found out why exactly Butler wasn’t playing in this game. Some claimed Butler was having a breakdown, and the coaching staff was concerned about his well being. Others said the coaches believed he wasn’t in condition to play (whatever that means). People around the situation, whether it was players or coaches, said the coaches put who they believed would help them win on the field, and apparently Butler was not one of those players.

According to Wickersham, Butler got into a heated argument with then defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in the week leading up the Super Bowl, and Butler was benched shortly thereafter. There’s a good chance that if Butler played this game, New England would have seven Super Bowl championships rather than six.

Ever since the Patriots lost this game, there has been one play that stuck out to me that changed the game in my opinion, and it was because Butler wasn’t on the field. It’s a simple play; 3rd & 6 for the Eagles early on in the third quarter. Foles finds Nelson Agholor on a short crossing route short of the first down marker. Jonathan Jones is right with Agholor in coverage, but he misses the tackle, and Agholor picks up the first down. Philly would score a touchdown a few plays later.

It’s such a specific play that seems so miniscule that I can’t even find a video of it on it’s own. (If you click here and skip to about the 9:40 mark, you will see what I am talking about.) If Butler is playing, he’s on the field covering Agholor here. Butler was one of the Pats better tacklers at cornerback, and there is no doubt in my mind he drops Agholor before the first down marker here, forcing Philadelphia to punt.

Next. Get ready for the most overhyped NFL game ever. dark

The final score was 41-33. If you take 7 points off the board, it’s 34-33. The Patriots got the ball back with 1:05 left on the clock in the fourth quarter, but were forced to go for a touchdown with no timeouts left. If Butler was on the field, and made that tackle, they would have only had to get a field goal to win the game.

Of course, this is all speculative, and no one really knows how the game would have gone had Butler been on the field. But based on what happened in the game, I’m certain the New England Patriots could have won had Butler played. And now we come to find out that a chance to add a seventh ring, and a three peat, was wasted because of a stupid argument between Patricia and Butler. Do with that what you will Patriots fans.