This is likely to be the last post I’m going to do about Bill Belichick’s decision to bench Malcolm Butler. And only because ESPN just did a profile of him in which he once again confirmed everything I said about it, both in the immediate aftermath and after he was signed by twig-off-the-Belichick-tree Jon Robinson in Tennessee:
An ascending organization headed by Robinson, a former Patriots scout, and coach Mike Vrabel didn’t hesitate to make the big five-year, $61.25 million investment in Butler. …
The stated facts of the curious Butler benching are this: Butler was sick with flu-like symptoms. Team doctors thought Butler could put other players at risk, so they cautiously had him stay behind one day when the team left for Minneapolis on Monday. Butler missed Super Bowl media night but arrived in time to attend the week’s practices. Butler, who played 98 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps during the 2017 season, admittedly fell behind a bit on the game plan and had a rough week in practice. He was rotating in practice with Eric Rowe, who started in place of him.
“This the biggest game of the year, so you gotta shoot your best gun or your best shot,” Butler said. “Preparation is the best way to win. And maybe they didn’t see 100 percent, mentally or physically, Malcolm Butler that they usually see.”
Butler denies all speculation that off-the-field issues such as missing curfew or attending a Rick Ross concert occurred during Super Bowl week. … Much of the sports world is convinced there’s more to the story. The assumption is there’s a smoking gun being kept secret. Butler has stopped trying to figure it all out and concludes it was another example of Belichick making a strong decision. This one just didn’t pay off. …
“No bad blood between me and Bill Belichick,” Butler said. “One of the greatest coaches ever and I care about him, I know he care about me. And this a hurtful game sometimes and it can look different than what it is. But that’s my guy. … I got a lot of respect for him.”
Now, as you all know, I’m not one to suck my own wang. I take all the satisfaction I need in merely being right all the time. I’ll leave it to others to say, “Old Balls was right about this from minute one.” Because here’s what I wrote right after the Super Bowl after talking to sources who spoke to Butler directly after the game when everyone else was scrambling for explanations:
Butler was telling people at the party, “The coach and I just aren’t seeing eye to eye.” … That’s where this gets tricky and words have to be chosen carefully. Butler wasn’t listed on the injury report and put on the punt coverage unit because he was over the illness. Physically, he was ready to go. Physically. It’s the other part of his game – the part between his earholes – that coaches had issues with.
I’m told that Butler “was not in the right frame of mind.” That during practices in Minneapolis he was being belligerent, “snapping” at his coaches. And after a bad week of prep, when game day came around Belichick simply didn’t believe his starting corner was in the headspace to make the calls, adjustments and post-snap reads against the Eagles RPO. At least not to the extent he trusted Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi.
To be clear, this is not coming from the coaching staff. It’s not spin to discredit Malcolm Go and justify some crazy, indefensible “hunch” by the head coach. The coaches, players and fans of the team love Butler. … Malcolm Butler wasn’t benched to prove a point. He was benched because Belichick and others believed he was not mentally prepared to play defense, period.
And as I said later, there’s not a chance on God’s green Earth that a guy Belichick had bad blood with would be signed by a former staffer of his to be coached by an ex-player of his who owes his coaching career to the Sith Lord. Not. A. Chance. Adalius Thomas never played another down in the NFL after challenging Belichick’s authoritah. If there was bad blood, Butler would’ve signed somewhere, but it wouldn’t have been Tennessee for $60 million+.
So all the Shanks in all the world can keep speculating and getting Belichicked into oblivion on the question. But all Butler has done since it ended badly is repeat what I told you within hours. He didn’t play because the head coach didn’t feel he was ready to go.
That said, let’s all just agree that I know everything and I’m always right and put this ugliness behind us once and for all. And that’s all I have to say about that.