The Patriots lost a heartbreaking decision to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, and there's plenty of fallout to cover, including Bill Belichick's decision to bench Malcolm Butler and what happens next.
Butler did not play a single defensive snap in Sunday night's game after playing every defensive snap in the Patriots' previous two playoff games. Belichick didn't clear up much else on Monday morning during a conference call.
Belichick's past unorthodox moves like using wide receivers Julian Edelman and Troy Brown as defensive backs could always be justified as genius from a prescient mad scientist, but benching Butler was different. "I didn't know how to feel watching that [expletive] without my homie playing, without Malcolm playing", Browner said in a video he shared. I guess I wasn't playing good or they didn't feel comfortable. That's what we did. I have nothing but great things to say about the organization.
Belichick said on Monday: "I respect Malcolm's competitiveness, and I'm sure that he felt like he could have helped". "There are a lot of things that go into that".More news: US stocks swoon, sending Dow down more than 650 points
"I ain't got nothing to say", Butler told reporters in the locker room after the game, per NFL.com's Kevin Patra.
"I was just doing my job supporting my teammates".
The three players that the Patriots chose to use instead of Butler, Rowe, Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Richards, all graded out significantly worse than Butler. It will go down as one of his most controversial personnel moves as Patriots head coach, certainly one of his most surprising. If Butler doesn't know what the football reasons were for his benching, that doesn't reflect well on him: Coaches aren't shy about telling players when they don't play well, and if Butler doesn't know what he did wrong on the field, that suggests that he doesn't pay attention to his coaches. He did say he had practiced in the starting spot during the week.
Matt Patricia provided an X's and O's explanation for Butller's benching. However, just before the Super Bowl kicked off, Butler was told he would be replaced by fellow cornerback Eric Rowe, a decision that surprised even the latter player. Maybe, maybe not. Philadelphia played a almost flawless game and did what it had to do to win, so who knows how they might have responded.