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.