During his conference call on Monday morning, Bill Belichick defended his decision to make Jabaal Sheard inactive for Sunday's game by saying it was what was best for the team.
"As I think I've said on dozens of occasions," he explained, "every decision we make here is based on what's best for the football team."
Not only was Sheard inactive for the matchup, but he did not make the trip to the West Coast on Friday. It was a decision that even caught Sheard's teammates by surprise. Some didn't realize that he was absent until Saturday.
Sheard was essentially benched during New England's Week 10 loss to Seattle. He played in just 16 snaps total -- a season-low -- and saw only four in the second half.
Asked if Sheard would have a "clean slate" and an opportunity to work his way back into the defensive end rotation, Belichick opted to remain relatively mum on the topic.
"As I already said, we're going to make the decisions we feel are best for the football team," he said. "Last week, this week, next week. Every week. I don't know how I could put it any differently. Last year. The year before that. Five years before that. Ten years before that. Fifteen years before that. I mean, I don't really understand where the . . . I don't understand why that's hard to understand."
When it was mentioned to Belichick that Sheard's snap counts have dropped dramatically since the Week 9 bye -- Sheard played in 56 snaps against the Bills in Week 8 -- the coach's response was brief.
"OK," he said.
On CSN's Pregame Live, it was noted by 98.5 The Sports Hub's Scott Zolak that Sheard turned in two plays in the loss to the Seahawks that led to his demotion. When asked for his take on Zolak's assessment, Belichick deflected.
"You'd have to talk to Scott about that," Belichick said. "I'm not sure what Scott said or what he was referring to or anything else so you'd really have to talk to Scott about that."
With Sheard out, Trey Flowers led the defensive end group in terms of playing time with 48 snaps. Chris Long saw 44 and Rob Ninkovich saw 41 in the victory.