Bill Belichick says the Malcolm Butler benching was strictly a football decision. I don’t believe him, you don’t believe him and I’d venture to guess Malcolm Butler probably doesn’t believe him.
But this is what they’ve chosen to go with, so until we hear otherwise (with “otherwise” meaning something along the lines of “the truth”), we can only assume this was (Stuart Scott wink) strictly a football decision.
So, assuming Butler was healthy and not in trouble, this was Bill Belichick’s Pete Carroll moment. Except instead of making one bad decision, he made one bad decision and committed to it for an entire game. Bill Belichick essentially threw from the 1-yard line over and over and over again.
TOM E. CURRAN
Carroll was stupid. Belichick -- [rolls eyes] if this was strictly a football decision; let's go with an acronym going foward -- was stupid and then stubborn. That’s a combination that we don’t often see from Belichick. Does anyone believe that Belichick would be at his worst in the Super Bowl?
Belichick was trying to win a Super Bowl without his best linebacker (Dont'a Hightower) and top two receivers (Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks). Obviously the linebacker and receivers were out of Belichick’s control. But imagine the chutzpah to voluntarily add a 2016 All Pro cornerback to that list.
Plus, ITWSAFD, Butler would have been back on the field by the start of the third quarter. Really, who makes better halftime adjustments than Bill Belichick? The defense stunk, Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi were struggling, and you’ve got an All Pro and Super Bowl hero twiddling his thumbs on the sideline? Belichick has never been that foolish.
As a result of the Butler situation, the Patriots find themselves in a surprisingly Seahawks-esque situation. Much like Seattle players questioned Carroll’s play call, you’ve got Patriots players -- directly or indirectly -- questioning Belichick. Brandon Browner, who knows a guy or two in that locker room, put Belichick on blast on Instagram, saying benching Butler is how you divide a locker room and that Belichick was on a power trip. Hightower liked it.
MORE ON BUTLER
Patriots players have it very, very good. A lot of them are far better off here than they would be anywhere else. Yet ITWSAFD, they’ve now seen their coach -- the guy they’ve been told time and again is an infallible genius -- make inarguably harmful decisions twice (the other being the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, whether he wanted to or not) in one year.
Winning solves everything. We know that. Yet coming close to winning and screwing it up can start a whole lot of problems. Just ask the Seahawks and other Super Bowl runner-ups.
If this was strictly a football decision, that’s what Bill Belichick did. It’s impossible to believe he did it on purpose, but that's what he's telling us.