Bill Belichick has taken plenty of heat for his decision to bench starting cornerback Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII.
This latest report won’t help his cause.
The New England Patriots head coach informed Butler he wouldn’t play “before kickoff” Sunday, but “the reason wasn’t given” for Butler’s benching, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reported Tuesday, citing a source.
Butler played just one snap on special teams in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sources also told Howe they didn’t believe Belichick would bench Butler for personal reasons, and the Patriots head coach insisted after the game that holding Butler out was a football decision. A report Monday night suggested both on-field and off-field issues created a “perfect storm” that led to Belichick not playing the veteran cornerback, who was on the field for a team-high 97.8 percent of New England’s defensive snaps during the regular season.
Whatever the reason for Butler not seeing the field, it appears Belichick didn’t communicate that to him, which likely explains why he was so frustrated after the game.
Belichick’s lack of explanation also created “ambiguity” in the Patriots’ locker room, Howe reported. That detail appears consistent with cornerback Eric Rowe admitting he didn’t know he’d start in place of Butler until the last minute, as well as a report that Butler’s benching “divided” the team’s locker room.
Belichick declined to discuss specifics Monday when asked about Butler not playing, mentioning it would be a “much longer discussion” and that there were “a lot of things that go into that.”
In short: There still are more questions than answers involving the Super Bowl’s strangest storyline.