Belichick on Butler benching: A lot of things that go into that

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The curious case of Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler‘s benching was one of the major topics of a conference call with head coach Bill Belichick on Monday.

Butler played just under 98 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in the regular season and every snap in their two playoff wins before getting a goose egg against the Eagles. Belichick said on Sunday that he made the decision he thought gave “us the best chance to win,” but many wondered why he continued to feel that way when it was clear that the other cornerbacks were not up to the task of stopping the Eagles.

Belichick’s initial response to questions about Butler, who said he felt he “could have changed that game” if he’d been given the chance to play, followed a similar track to what he said on Sunday.

“I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness and I am sure that he felt like he could have helped,” Belichick said, via WEEI.com. “I am sure other players felt the same way, but in the end, we have to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team and that is what we did, that is what I did. That’s really all I can say about it.”

Mike Reiss of ESPN.com pushed Belichick for further detail about why he felt that was the best approach for the team.

“I appreciate the question, but it would be a much longer discussion,” Belichick said. “There are a lot of things that go into that. In the end, the final decision is what I said it was.”

The mention of longer discussions and a lot of things going into it won’t stop speculation that the decision was about more than just football matters, but there probably won’t be much more from the Patriots on the matter as things move forward. Butler is set for free agency in March and it seems highly unlikely that he’ll be back in New England after the way things played out on Sunday.

97 responses to “Belichick on Butler benching: A lot of things that go into that

  1. The mention of longer discussions and a lot of things going into it won’t stop speculation that the decision was about more than just football matters,


    Then why let him dress at all? Very bizarre. Looking forward to a whole chapter on this in his book when the time comes!

  2. Butler probably didn’t play because, unlike the Seattle Superbowl, he forgot to review Belicheat’s camcorder footage prior to the game. That’s a big no no.

  3. BB’s pride cost him another championship. Plain and simple.

    Maybe the real story comes out in the next few days, and we’ll all see that the benching was justified. But, at this point, short of Butler killing someone, this was a bad move.

  4. Jeez let it go already. I’m not fan of Belichick, but he’s the head coach. It’s both his right and his job to make that call.

  5. I’m guessing he got benched for doing something stupid during the 2 week period leading up to the Super Bowl.

  6. Sometimes Belichick makes some really baffling decisions. Butler is one of the best corners in the NFL. I think that they were going to lose no matter what, but it was painful and frustrating as a fan to see him crying on the sideline.

  7. Man that was about* to be Brady’s best game ever lol I was surprised how well the offense played with all the wrs dead. I can’t help but think butler would have helped the defense. I just don’t get it. Didn’t even play in nickel and dime situations..

  8. Thankfully Bill knew what he was doing. With Butler on the bench, the Patriot defense ONLY gave up 538 yards of offense and 41 points. This is the adjustment Bill made to give his team the best chance to win. (Do you think it’s possible they would have given up even more yards and more points if they let him play?)

  9. He was trying to send a message to the kid. We can win without you, don’t expect us to break the bank to sign you.
    Backfired in the worst way and Belichek is too cowardly to own up to it…

  10. Dont like the explanation.

    Looks he’s either covering his own butt because it wasn’t bad OR it was bad and he’s trying not to throw Butler under the bus.

    If it’s the second thing, Butler needs to shut up because if it come out it could cost him lots of money

  11. Belichick likes to say “players win games, and coaches lose them”. Never was that more evident than last night.

  12. Very curious decision by Belichick. Maybe the Pats thought Butler was slowed down by his flu symptoms? If that were the case, it wouldn’t been as easy explanation in the post-game.

    SF needs a starting corner opposite of youngster Ahkello Witherspoon, with the Garoppolo connection, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Butler in red and gold next year.

  13. cheapseater says:
    February 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Malcolm’s gonna tell us soon. You know he wants it out there.


    Maybe. Or Patricia if he wants to burn that bridge….

  14. He was sick with the Flu during the week before the game. He had gotten better and returned to the practice field a couple days before the game but reports were his play was not up to 100%, and that would understandable to not be at full quickness for a few days after that. My guess would be Belichick waited and hoped up until the last minute before deciding he had to use someone else. If thats the case then its no disrespect to Butler although I can understand him not liking it. But I kniw in my own experiences after bad flu bouts, even after I resume normal life its still another good week or so before I am fully physically back to normal. To an elite athlete who competes against other elite athletes that tiny difference can be all the difference in the world.

  15. Great to see this backfire, his ego was getting quite large. After getting rid of Jamie Collins and still winning a SB w/o him, I’m sure he thought that was the ‘right’ decision, too.

  16. When you see Hightower “liking” an instagram post from Brandon Browner ripping Bill for this decision… it’s easy to guess now a budding problem in the locker room. Needs to be nipped in the bud sooner than later.

  17. yall act like this kid is better at coaching than Bill. Did you forget Bill called the play that put this guy in position for his one play to fame. Patriots made it back to the Super Bowl and it wasnt because of this kid.

  18. So much for Belichick being a genius, he doesn’t realize benching Butler took the air out of the team…specifically the defense.

  19. grogansheroes says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:02 pm
    Belichick likes to say “players win games, and coaches lose them”. Never was that more evident than last night.

    ——————
    I dont think this is the specific reason here. But Belichick himself has already stepped up and said that the loss lies completely on his shoulders.

  20. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:03 pm
    Butler’s benching didn’t cause Brady’s fumble to essentially end the game.
    —————————
    True. However Brady’s fumble might not have essentially ended the game, if Butler had played. `

  21. “Alot of things” go into Belicheck being Belicheck. When you are as strict and inflexible as he is with his personnel you end up biting yourself in the butt. Bench your #2 CB for the biggest game of they year while the other teams WRs run free and likely because he didn’t refer to Belicheck as “Your excellency” this week at practice.

  22. So guy who started every game and played 97% of the snaps suddenly doesn’t play ONE snap when the secondary is getting absolutely shredded. Nothing unusual there. Clearly he did something to piss off Bill. But then why dress him?

  23. SeeYouNextTuesday…Jamie Collins wanders up to a police station without a shirt on at 0 dark thirty one cold morning due to the effects of synthetic weed and you’re okay with that? Is that about the size of it?

  24. There is no reason not to play a guy like Butler who has been a go to corner for the entire season.

    Bill is right about one thing; this SB loss is squarely on his shoulders for not making a half time adjustment, playing Butler, that very likely would have changed the outcome.

  25. Just read a report that Butler missed curfew and when he came back late they caught him with weed then he had a meltdown on the coaches. Belichick wouldn’t randomly bench a starter for no reason and not play him while Eric Rowe is getting victimized. People acting like Butler is an innocent victim here is pretty silly.

  26. I think Butler was the one who leaked to media the original game plan was going to feature White out of the backfield as the main attack. They used some of that, but clearly went away from it when they saw how Eagles put a CB on him instead of the usual linebacker, because they heard the details of Game Plan that was leaked by Boston media.

  27. The Pats have zero depth at corner and got repeatedly torched…the king of halftime adjustments didn’t bring Butler in for the 2nd half even though he was on the active roster for the game. Rowe didn’t know he was starting until kickoff.

    No reasonable person believes it was “a football decision”. *Something* happened, and right before kickoff.

    BB covered LT’s butt for years. I think it’s at least a reasonable possibility he’s covering for free agent to be Butler here.

  28. Butler’s discounted “on your way out” jersey will sell out on the 1st day. He is loved in NE. BB’s pride got in the way.

  29. There is a rumor that he completely cleared out his locker in New England before the game. He left a day after the team because of the flu.

    One theory is that he told people in NE while the team was in MN that he was clearing out because this was his last game as a Patriot.

    This word got to BB on Saturday and he was pissed that Butler would do this before the game instead of being 100% focused on the team winning the game. There was also a question of if his speed and vigor would be back up to normal after getting the flu.

    Those two things combined. Recovering from the flu and then dissing the team by “moving out” before the game and having word of that spread were scale tippers for BB when combined with the fact that he probably was not going pay him next year – especially after the locker room clear out “distraction”.

  30. Not confirmed by any means, but the rumors are that Butler was found with pot in his hotel room, which would explain the benching. Poor decision on Malcolm’s part if true

  31. Kraft should consider trading BB for some 1st Round Picks and clean house with the coaching staff.
    Absolutely the most SELFISH, PRIDEFUL and ARROGANT decision ever made by a HC on the most important Game of a Lifetime.

    I said from the beginning of this Season that BB has been making terrible Personel decisions by trading away QBs for 4th String Player – Dorsett for one – when the MOST IMPORTANT need for the Team was DEFENSE.
    Year after Year either there is no Pass Rush or terrible Secondary and this year it was BOTH.

    TB12 is the Real Deal and BB either needs a very good attitude adjustment by Kraft or he needs to be traded. BB saying how great a player Chung is a complete Joke. Teams look for Chung because they know it is a easy 1st Down.

    Patriot Players played thier heart out only to have them ripped out by the worst coaching I have ever seen in the BB & TB12 Era.

    Major changes needed at Patriots Place.

  32. As much as Brady gets praises for throwing over 500 yards, I still don’t understand the need to snap the ball so fast. Why even run the no huddle offense to score points fats if your defense is tired and can’t keep up with the other team’s offense? The Eagles totally outplayed the Patriots just by time of possession. That was key in the end because the Eagles defense was able to make one extra play while the Pats defense was totally gassed, just like the Falcons Defense the last SB.

  33. SeeYouNextTuesday says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:52 pm
    Remember that time Belichick sat his #1 CB in the Superbowl?
    ————————————————————–

    Yes, Ty Law was on injured reserve one year and sat for the Super Bowl.

    Did not happen yesterday because the Pats #1 CB, Stephon Gilmore, did play. He did not play great, but no one on either defense played great. The Eagles did, however, make one great play at the end to seal the game.

    Why are there so many Pats haters trying to make excuses for the Pats losing, when the only excuse that Pats fans are making, and that anyone should make, is that the Eagles were the better team?

  34. Strange and bizarre decision! Whatever it was; it was major and obviously potentially very embarrassing to Belichick. We can all speculate about Belichick’s ego and arrogance as much as we want. But this man is not a fool! He knows that Butler is his very best cover corner. And best tackler too. So IMO whatever it was carried potential repercussions. Or no way he does this in a game of this magnitude (with no hint during the week). For Butler’s sake, I hope it is nothing like the Ray Rice incident, stupidity in Mall of America, or anything like that. But I suspect Malcolm knows exactly why he fell from grace. And I say Stay tuned for the full story.

  35. People need to get a grip. I’m not a Pats fan, but you have to respect a coach who’s had as much success as Bill Belichick. Yes, he’s a disciplinarian, but you know he’s not going to arbitrarily bench a desperately needed player for the Super Bowl over some bit of minutia. Butler was down with the flu until a day or two before the game. Someone else posted that he’d come late to practice/a meeting and been caught with weed. It’s pretty obvious Belichick thought the guy wasn’t on his game, and decided to go with people who were in better shape and had spent more time in practice. It’s a judgment call, and it’s his job to make those decisions. He’s smart enough to know there’s no point second-guessing himself now, and he’s not going to throw Butler under the bus right before he becomes a free agent.

  36. Tajuara…. patriots snap the ball so fast and run no huddle so tv doesn’t have time to show their offensive penalties that don’t get called.

  37. jackfactor2014 says:

    February 5, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    There is a rumor that…..

    ==========================================

    All that you said may be true, but it shows a dangerous level of pride and arrogance on behalf of Belichick, especially if it was Butlers last game in NE.

    When a HC or Player puts their ego ahead of the Team, 10x with a SuperBowl on the line, it is a major flaw in character.
    BB crushed the entire Team over one deadly selfish power struggle.

    Butler would of played at his highest level in this game knowing that it would determine his future since he was entering FA status.

    Kraft should seriously consider trading BB for some 1st Round Picks and building a Defense because we all know Brady is FULLY capable on Offense.

  38. OK, clownns. Just how is BB supposed to explain every detail to the media and still keep his players and future player’s respect? THINK! In one sentence, he could utterly destroy this young man’s career. Back off

  39. It will come out but Bill ain’t talking. There is a time and place to discipline a player but… the Super Bowl would not be my first choice. Additionally, the Pats would be short a Lombardi without this guy !

  40. It wasn’t justified, and you can tell he literally found out just before the game.

    Rowe had no reason to lie, and if Butler knew before gametime that he wouldn’t be starting OR playing at all, he would have been sulking or stonefaced. He was weeping.

    This is all on Bill.

  41. “Jeez let it go already. I’m not fan of Belichick, but he’s the head coach. It’s both his right and his job to make that call.”
    _________

    First of all, let it go already? IT’S THE MORNING AFTER THE GAME. It hasn’t even been 24 hours, and the time to dissect and break it down has already expired? lol

    And yeah, he’s the coach. Thanks for the info. It’s his job and his right to coach as he sees fit. But as fans, it’s OUR RIGHT to question a move like this. It’s the medias JOB to challenge it and ask why.

    He can make any call he wants, doesn’t mean he can’t be questioned or second guessed. Especially since it just happened last night. You’re making your comment as if people are drudging up ancient history. It literally couldn’t ever possibly be more relevant than it is today.

    If he’s gonna make a call that bold, then he should have the stones to back it up when it blows up in his face.

  42. Wellman says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:04 pm
    He was sick with the Flu during the week before the game. He had gotten better and returned to the practice field a couple days before the game but reports were his play was not up to 100%, and that would understandable to not be at full quickness for a few days after that. My guess would be Belichick waited and hoped up until the last minute before deciding he had to use someone else. If thats the case then its no disrespect to Butler although I can understand him not liking it. But I kniw in my own experiences after bad flu bouts, even after I resume normal life its still another good week or so before I am fully physically back to normal. To an elite athlete who competes against other elite athletes that tiny difference can be all the difference in the world

    //////////////////

    You couldn’t be more wrong, if he was sick BB and Butler would say illness kept him out. BB screwed the pooch on this one and NE lost.

  43. Eventually, even the very best buy into their own hype. “Next man up” works wonders for years and you start thinking there’s no way you can make a wrong call. Then one day you sit a starting cornerback in the Super Bowl while the defense is getting shredded but you can’t put him into the game because that would be admitting you’d screwed up. I have no doubt BB and Patricia spent the entire game expecting Rowe to have a pick 6 because that’s how things tend to work out for them.

  44. Why doesn’t Malcom come out and say why he benched him? I’m guessing it’s probably because he did something he shouldn’t have, and the truth will shed a bad light on him.

  45. I have a hard time believing he got benched for a disciplinary infraction. This was the Super Bowl- not week 2 or 3, where you need to “make a point”…..Can’t help but think there’s more to this story

  46. I’m guessing he got benched for doing something stupid during the 2 week period leading up to the Super Bowl.

    now that is the best and most accurate statements out of all these posts….

    He did something…to not get the nod to play……we can only guess what it was and until someone comes out and explains it all to us we can keep on posting BS.

  47. A head coach doesn’t have to explain his personnel decisions. It’s pretty straightforward actually and considering you don’t even get completely truthful injury reports from that team.

  48. Frustrating. Especially given Butler’s response, because it seems like he could’ve played in the defensive backfield. And Rowe was totally blindsided by the move. I’d like to think Belichick is too smart to let his ego get in the way of winning, but this just makes me wonder.

  49. Belichick is a douche.

    “Gee whiz, I really thought that was a good idea. And golly, it didn’t work! Well, at least I got my secret point across. Football Football Football.”

  50. RGisvacuous says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:33 pm
    SeeYouNextTuesday…Jamie Collins wanders up to a police station without a shirt on at 0 dark thirty one cold morning due to the effects of synthetic weed and you’re okay with that? Is that about the size of it?

    That was Chandler Jones not Jamie Collins who did that by the way.

  51. There are real flesh and blood human beings and powerful emotions not to mention careers and serious long term health issues tied to what amounts to a child’s game, while in the outside world the game’s outcome is inconsequential. Coach’s legacy? Tom versus Time? Neither Belichick nor Brady will ever eclipse the Hall of Famers who came before them. Why does everyone hate them? Neither exhibited one ounce of joy for being there. Sorry, Malcolm, that you weren’t a part of it, but for them it was all about their future legacy. For you and everyone else it was all about the present, all the other coaches and players together combined, and how they handled winning it or losing it together and doing it as a team. Notice when games ended who were always the first two to run off the field? Who are always the first to leave? It’s why I no longer care about the Patriots franchise. Fly Eagles Fly. Jimmy G and the 49ers. Josh, Jacoby and the Colts. It will be fun again soon, Malcolm.

  52. As Owner of the Team, Kraft needs to man-up to BB on such a crucial, once in a lifetime Game like this, and at Half-Time ordered BB to swallow his pride and play Butler. Kraft also should of went to Butler and pulled him aside, encouraging him as a Player that he is, the same Player who was worthy of helping the Team to win SB49 and SB51, to undo the damage done by BB.

    Different outcome to the Game had Kraft done that which was absolutely necessary.

  53. C’mon some of you. Missed curfew? Weed? Flu? Bill has high tolerance for all of those scenarios from players ranging from Moss-Blount-Hernandez-Brady-others. Penalty was usually didn’t start & miss a few series. Or suck it up if sick. End of story. However; (and I’m not saying any of this actually happened) imagine if a major Player is out at a wild & loose SB party-it turns into debauchery or something worse-someone gets assaulted-someone gets hurt-police are called-miss curfew. Yeh; that would provoke a coach and owner to make a choice like that.

  54. I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who wagered very heavily on the Pats are pretty ticked at BB. Also Vegas bookies are really upset as 70-80% of the money was on Eagles. Could there be consequences?

  55. How dare you use logic and reasoning instead of making assumptions about ego.

    Wellman says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:04 pm
    He was sick with the Flu during the week before the game. He had gotten better and returned to the practice field a couple days before the game but reports were his play was not up to 100%, and that would understandable to not be at full quickness for a few days after that. My guess would be Belichick waited and hoped up until the last minute before deciding he had to use someone else. If thats the case then its no disrespect to Butler although I can understand him not liking it. But I kniw in my own experiences after bad flu bouts, even after I resume normal life its still another good week or so before I am fully physically back to normal. To an elite athlete who competes against other elite athletes that tiny difference can be all the difference in the world.

  56. If the decision is based on giving the Patriots “us the best chance to win”, then the results indicate that the Belichick was flat out wrong. What’s frustrating when he speaks is that he won’t own the original mistake nor added mistakes by not allowing Butler to enter the game even though the likely result would have been an improved defense.

  57. We have 5 Lombardis because of Belicheck’s personnel decisions. Including not giving Bledsoe back his job, which EVERYONE knew was a huge mistake and not fair, etc. Whatever reason Malcolm didn’t play, I got 5 reasons to believe BB. All you talking about ego, etc don’t get it. He doesn’t get personal, doesn’t take it personally, just does what he thinks is right. The Patriots lost on a strip of the QB and a defense that got killed all night. Now everyone wants to figure out who to blame. Missed tackles ALONE could be blamed. Blown coverages could be blamed. Bad game plan could be blamed. But saying it’s BB’s ego, or not playing Butler is silly. You had ZERO idea who he was before BB put him in against Seattle, and you will forget about him when he goes to whatever team he will go to. He’s a decent, smallish corner who plays hard but get’s burned a lot against bigger guys. That’s all.

  58. bradygirl12 says:

    February 5, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Sometimes Belichick makes some really baffling decisions. Butler is one of the best corners in the NFL.

    ================

    No, he really isn’t.

  59. Belichick played Asante Samuel when he was leaving for free agency. Logic and Belichick ‘s prior coaching indicate playing Butler only on special teams was health related, not free agency related. We have seen players who were out with the flu run out of gas in the second half in a dome stadium. Go back and watch the Pats give up a big first half lead in Indy in the AFCCG about a decade ago.

  60. jjackwagon says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:25 pm
    patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    February 5, 2018 at 1:03 pm
    Butler’s benching didn’t cause Brady’s fumble to essentially end the game.
    —————————
    True. However Brady’s fumble might not have essentially ended the game, if Butler had played. `

    ———

    There will always be what ifs and ifs. If Brady hadn’t settled for field goals in the 1st and 2nd quarters, the fumble might not have ended the game. We can only go by what we know for certain, Brady fumbled the SB away.

  61. At some point, you have to give the coach that just led his team to their 8th Super Bowl appearance in 17 years the benefit of the doubt. He’s not flawless, and maybe it was the wrong decision to bench Butler, but he’s gotten it right far, far more often than not. And with all that went wrong on D, Brady had the ball down five points with 2:20 left and one timeout. I think most people watching were expecting another Brady comeback.

  62. I think when Pats fans look back on this Dynasty, I suspect they will imagine that it could have been even more but for Belichick’s eccentricities:

    Traded Richard Seymour, refused to pay Ty Law and Asante Samuel, traded Deion Branch, left Brady with mediocre receivers for years, drafted two second round safeties nobody even knew Tavon Wilson and Jordan Richards, traded Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins and ultimately refused to sign and sat down Malcolm Butler.

  63. We know for certain that Brady was nowhere near the reason this game was lost. He played like the MVP and greatest QB of all time that he is. Any other quarterback in there last night and the Pats lose this game convincingly.

    If the Pats won, his record-setting night would be what we’re talking about today.

    Congrats to the Eagles. They went and got it.

  64. You have to play the matchups and if Belichick thought that the Patriots were better off without him, they probably were. Who is to say they wouldn’t have scored 50 if Butler was in ther?

  65. Bill Was OUT COACHED!!! Plain and simple. VERY OVERRATED! What he did to Butler was STUPID!!!!!!!!!!! Dude WON the SUPER BOWL for Bill!!! IDIOT!!! Probably would have won if he played and Bill made the PROPER ADJUSTMENTS!!!

  66. yette1 says:
    February 5, 2018 at 7:10 pm
    I think when Pats fans look back on this Dynasty, I suspect they will imagine that it could have been even more but for Belichick’s eccentricities:

    Traded Richard Seymour, refused to pay Ty Law and Asante Samuel, traded Deion Branch, left Brady with mediocre receivers for years, drafted two second round safeties nobody even knew Tavon Wilson and Jordan Richards, traded Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins and ultimately refused to sign and sat down Malcolm Butler.

    ______________________

    That’s a flawed way of looking at it, in my opinion. Even in their “down” years between they were regulars in divisional and conference championship games. They were only able to do that because they could build a complete 53 man roster and not tie up too much money in any one player or position. Deion Branch, for example, wanted #1 WR money, despite the fact he wasn’t a legit #1 WR. As for Asante Samuel… how much do you think he was worth? Same goes for Chandler Jones– heck of a player, but you couldn’t pay him AND retain Hightower. And they managed to win the SB and return to a second w/out Jamie Collins, so that seems like a foolish argument too. I don’t think what you describe as “eccentricities” COST the Patriots anything, I think it kept this amazing run SUSTAINABLE.

  67. It was a very dumb move and an example of Belichick trying to outsmart everyone, and at the end of the day he only outsmarted himself and cost his team a Super Bowl, essentially because of his oversized ego.

  68. The Pats are regular division champs because that division has been trash for 15 years. Bad ownership by the Bills, Dolphin, and Jets mostly content with being a dormat.

    In a legitimate division, they are much less a dynasty.

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