On the Patriots side, all the buzz from Super Bowl 52 surrounded Malcolm Butler’s notable absence in their loss to Philly.
Remember, the Eagles would rack up over 500 yards and 41 points en route to their first Super Bowl championship ever. He wound up playing briefly on special teams but did not play defense.
Eagles running back Jay Ajayi said playing the Patriots changes the thought process.
Neither team was able to generate much pressure as receivers ran free downfield throughout the game. Bill Belichick is getting ripped for it – even by some of his former players. Tom Brady was the goat last night.
All of which makes the prospect of bringing in someone like Butler all the more intriguing. “That’s why it was important to move the ball on first and second down put ourselves in position to go for it if we had to”.
From Super Bowl hero, to Super Bowl no show.
“Obviously, I enjoy the experience of playing in this game”. Some of it is a result of the benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Butler has started 47 of the past 48 games he has appeared in. “It is what it is”. It was coach’s decision. I’m sure that he felt like he could’ve helped. They didn’t feel comfortable.
After the game when asked if Butler didn’t play due to illness this is what Belichick had to say.
“Yeah, I just covered that”, he said. I have nothing but great things to say about the organization.
“They gave up on me. F-. He was a favorite for us for what he can do, but … it probably felt like they can use him, like he was a pawn, a piece of this game”.
Because Butler has been a mainstay on defense, Devin McCourty said “to not be out there I’m sure crushed him”, McCourty told the Boston Herald. When Butler was seeking a long-term deal, the Patriots would not commit. He caught 61 passes for 659 yards in the regular season, then raised his game a notch or three in the playoffs, catching 26 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns.
The game plan was odd, at best.
Eric Rowe started in place of Butler on Sunday. Meanwhile, Amerson allowed the worst quarterback rating in the NFL when being targeted in 2017 at over 156, per Pro Football Focus.
However, it’s hard to take that comment at face value given that Rowe was apparently not informed he’d play over Butler until mere moments before the game.
Either Butler’s benching was justified by some frightful behavior or secret injury, in which case the Patriots would be wise to reveal their reasoning, or Belichick’s decision was rash and inexplicable, in which case there must be someone angry enough to tell the world what happened.