Devin McCourty

McCourty reiterates Patriots players knew Butler wouldn't start in Super Bowl

AP Photo

McCourty reiterates Patriots players knew Butler wouldn't start in Super Bowl

Devin McCourty said immediately after Super Bowl LII that players knew Malcolm Butler's role had changed. Two weeks later, that story hasn't changed.

After falling to the Eagles, 41-33, and while making his way from his media availability period to the Patriots buses, McCourty said he and his teammates weren't surprised that Butler's workload had been scaled back for the final game of the season. 

His explanation made it difficult to understand, though, why other players were so surprised to see that Butler wasn't a part of the defensive game plan. The corner who started in Butler's place, Eric Rowe, said he didn't know until right before kickoff that he'd be on the field instead of Butler. 


McCourty reiterated his point when asked about the situation during a recent event to benefit Tackle Sickle Cell, founded by McCourty and his twin brother Jason to help families dealing with sickle cell disease.

"As far as I know, all of that is the furthest thing from the truth," McCourty told NJ Advance Media when asked if Butler's benching was disciplinary in nature. "We all knew he wasn't starting all week. That wasn't a secret to the guys on the team.

"I get why people are fishing. The guy played 98 percent of the plays. I just hate that for him character-wise going into free agency. It's just not true. As far as I know -- and I was there all week -- not one time did anything come up."


Butler took to social media in the days following the loss to dispel any rumors that he was being punished by Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff. He pointed out that he had not attended any concerts during the week, as had been theorized online, and that he spent his free time with family. 

"It sucked for him," McCourty said. "He put a lot of time and effort in. However it falls, the last thing you want to do is not play a snap. To me, the worst part was to see all that (anonymous) stuff come out after."

McCourty called Butler a "great teammte" and appreciated the way Butler grew as a player during his four years in New England. 

"It's been great to watch him develop," McCourty said of Butler. "To watch him, maybe, be late one day his rookie year, and say, 'Hey Malc, you can't do that.' And then becoming a guy you can count on who is very dependable.

"If he decides it's hard to come back after that, anywhere he goes, the guy is a great football player and probably one of the most competitive people I've been around. With all my guys, we're teammates and friends for life."


Reports: Patriots safety Devin McCourty has shoulder surgery

NBC Sports Boston

Reports: Patriots safety Devin McCourty has shoulder surgery

Patriots safety Devin McCourty underwent a minor "cleanup" procedure on his shoulder, according to multiple reports.

McCourty, 30, was listed as questionable on the injury report with a shoulder injury before the Week 17 matchup against the Jets but played in the game. He played in 97 percent of the Patriots defensive snaps in 2017. 


What they're saying: Belichick credits years in Cleveland for shaping team-building philosophy

What they're saying: Belichick credits years in Cleveland for shaping team-building philosophy

BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota -- Bill Belichick has spent his entire adult life around professional football, but he pointed to a handful of years spent in Cleveland as having a significant impact on his team-building philosophy. 

While Belichick has the opportunity to join George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only two coaches to win six championships, his job description involves more than coaching the Patriots. Since his arrival in 2000, he's also been the final decision-maker on personnel moves. His time with the Browns, from 1991-1995, he says, allowed him to develop the system that's now served him well in New England. 

"I'd say a lot of that was really developed in Cleveland with Mike Lombardi," Belichick said Thursday. "We put the scouting department together there when Ernie [Adams] left, [along with] Dom Anile, who was our director of college scouting. 

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"But Mike and I, with the help of a great scouting staff like Jim Schwartz, were there and coaches like coach [Nick] Saban, coach [Scott] O'Brien because our coaches had a lot of influence in the scouting system. We put that together over the course of that time in Cleveland. 

"Not speaking for Nick, but I know in talking to Nick, I know that a lot of the principles that we developed there he's used and certainly modified, and we've done that as well. Scouting systems, scouting grades, grading players and certain characteristics and how to put those characteristics . . . how to grade, how to note them, how to put some kind of a value on them and organize it, that was developed, all of it was developed for me in Cleveland, Mike and the people on his staff. 

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"With the Giants, we had a system that was set up that there was some relevance to, but what we did in Cleveland was different than that. Certainly what we do now is a lot different from what the Giants . . . I learned a lot from being with the Giants for 12 years and the way they approached evaluation of players, but in Cleveland we kind of took things from a lot of different angles. 

"Mike's personnel angle. Nick had a lot of input defensively. I had a lot of input in the whole process. Scott on special teams, Ernie on offense. Ernie was pretty involved with the draft when he was with the Patriots [from 1975-1978]. So we took a lot of those grading principles and put them all together and rewrote the scouting book the grading book in Cleveland, and then we did it again when we came to New England."

Here are some other tidbits from Patriots media availability on Thursday . . . 

Belichick on his scouting report of Bill Belichick the Wesleyan University football player: "Got a long way to go, buddy. Maybe you outta try coaching. Quite a few people told me that, actually. That's probably good advice. I got that from a couple of coaches. Football and lacrosse. 'Got a better career in coaching than you'll have in playing.' "

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Devin McCourty on cracking the code to get Belichick to sing your praises: "The key is to make sure you don't get fired each day you come to work. I think that mentality has served me well. Just trying to do my job, and help the younger guys as I've grown older on the team."

Tom Brady on encouraging his teammates on the sidelines, particularly when they're behind: "Lotta times I try to tell our team, 'Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Don't ever let up. Don't ever let your mind drift to a place where you lose a certain level of belief.' I believe, until the clock runs out, it's never over. I've been in a lot of those situations in my career, and anything can happen. We've been down 11 with two minutes left. We've been down obviously last year in this game by a big margin. You don't want to be in those positions, but if you are, you play until the end."