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Did benching Malcolm Butler lose the game for the Pats?

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  • It's one of the biggest stories today after a great Super Bowl -- Why did the Patriots bench Malcolm Butler?

    I think it's actually worth discussing for various reasons, first and foremost being that it potentially lost them the game. Super Bowl 52 was highly entertaining thanks to record breaking offensive numbers and it wasn't until the 4th quarter that I realized there was only one punt all game (which would end up being the final number of punts total). There were missed kicks, etc. that potentially change the outcome, but both teams were essentially going blow-for-blow driving the field and scoring points.

    One punt, two turnovers, and a WHOLE lot of scoring. A lot of scoring in a game where one possession/turnover ultimately decided the entire thing. I look at the stats and the two teams and can only wonder how that game plays out with Butler getting some defensive play time. Butler played on special teams throughout the game, but received 0 defensive snaps for what was described as "football reasons." I think these "football reasons" aren't actually as related to football as reported, but that's complete conjecture at this point.

    In a shocking twist, Butler, a legendary Patriots figure for his stunning interception in Super Bowl XLIX, now also represents one of the most puzzling decisions of the Bill Belichick era. Butler played 97.8 percent of New England’s defensive snaps during the regular season—the highest percentage of any player on the team—but saw the field only on special teams in Super Bowl LII.


    https://www.theringer.com/nfl-playoffs/2018/2/5/16972762/malcolm-butler-benched-mystery-super-bowl-eagles-patriots

    Of course we can't and won't actually know what the outcome of this game would be if Butler plays, but I think it's pretty obvious you want your best guys on the field during a Super Bowl. Benching Butler meant the Patriots were playing their 3rd-5th corners the entire game, and his replacement was torched early and often (something around 70 yards and TD given up in the first quarter). How in the world do you go from 97.8% of defensive snaps to 0%? The fact that the Pats never "adjusted" and put Butler back in at even half time just boggles the mind. He's a great tackler, has a knack for defending passes and making impact plays... In a game where just one or two scoring possessions separates the two teams, it's just baffling that you would essentially bench your most valuable defensive back and refuse to play him when his replacements are getting burnt for almost the entirety of the contest.

    There are rumors out there that this is some type of power play by BB to spite Kraft or try to devalue Butler's negotiating leverage as he will be a FA this year, there's rumors that it was disciplinary (broken curfew, possibly found with marijuana), there are rumors that Butler ding-dong-ditched BB's hotel room at 2AM (ok I just made that one up). I just find this situation intriguing, and honestly I'd probably be butt hurt as an Iggles fan if we just won the big one and the biggest story airing the next day is basically more Patriot knob-slobbing saying they lost the game for themselves by not playing Butler.

    Did the Patriots cut off their nose to spite their face?
    Last edited by JGfromtheNW on Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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  • No, Eric Rowe played great in place of Butler.

    But it's funny seeing Bill Belichick get his comeuppance from the media.
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  • What I find funny is going back to the Hawk / Pats Super Bowl, the Pats fans gleefully put that play call at the feet of Carroll. Yet in this situation many of them are throwing Patricia under the bus.
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  • In a sense despite Rowe playing great, wonder if Butler got into an attitude problem with BB? As really Belichick does not put up with pull.
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  • I brought this up in another post that LT on the NFL network couldn't understand why they were using safeties to cover the slot instead of Butler. He also said that he thought it caused NE the game.
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  • hawknation2018 wrote:No, Eric Rowe played great in place of Butler.

    But it's funny seeing Bill Belichick get his comeuppance from the media.


    You think Butler is burnt for 75+ yards and a TD in the first quarter? Just curious, cause that's what Rowe did. I did notice he played much better the rest of the game, though.

    I have to admit I'm enjoying the comeuppance as well. Even more entertaining that folks seems to be postulating this is the beginning of the end of the Pats dynasty. A little early on that one unless the tin-foil theories that BB and Kraft have been feuding over how to handle Brady, Jimmy G, etc. are actually true.
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  • seahawkfreak wrote:I brought this up in another post that LT on the NFL network couldn't understand why they were using safeties to cover the slot instead of Butler. He also said that he thought it caused NE the game.


    I think he's on to something. Pats fans seem to think using Butler allows Gillmore to shadow Alshon Jeffery all game and reduce his impact.

    HawkRiderFan wrote:What I find funny is going back to the Hawk / Pats Super Bowl, the Pats fans gleefully put that play call at the feet of Carroll. Yet in this situation many of them are throwing Patricia under the bus.


    I think it definitely changes the narrative if it was Patricia, but I think they might just be using him as a scapegoat since he already had one foot out the door for the Lions gig. It sounds like BB has been taking credit for the decision, though.

    Passepartout wrote:In a sense despite Rowe playing great, wonder if Butler got into an attitude problem with BB? As really Belichick does not put up with pull.


    I'm about 99% sure it wasn't football related.
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  • I'm pretty sure the lack of film study on Foles within the new Eagles offense is what led to the win by Philly. What cost the Pats the game? Inability to effectively run the ball and control the clock, they became one demential.
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  • Nope. Butler is severely over-rated. Like I said in another thread, If Brandon Browner didn’t line him up, and say the ball is going to be thrown right there on the “2nd and wrong” play in XLIX, you wouldn’t know who Malcom Butler is today.
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  • Sports Hernia wrote:Nope. Butler is severely over-rated. Like I said in another thread, If Brandon Browner didn’t line him up, and say the ball is going to be thrown right there on the “2nd and wrong” play in XLIX, you wouldn’t know who Malcom Butler is today.



    Butler's quote was "they stopped believing in me."

    That makes it sound tactical.
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  • I'm happy to see any and all strife occur in that organization. :)
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  • RolandDeschain wrote:I'm happy to see any and all strife occur in that organization. :)


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  • I have no link and no proof so take it for what it is, but I read on a Patriots board that Butler missed curfew, had pot on him, and argued with the coaching staff. Makes sense, but again, just hearsay.
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  • pittpnthrs wrote:I have no link and no proof so take it for what it is, but I read on a Patriots board that Butler missed curfew, had pot on him, and argued with the coaching staff. Makes sense, but again, just hearsay.


    This sounds very Belichek like, the Patriot way and Belichek or you done. Butler is done as a Patriot.
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  • RolandDeschain wrote:I'm happy to see any and all strife occur in that organization. :)



    BINGO!
    Couldn't agree more.
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  • pittpnthrs wrote:I have no link and no proof so take it for what it is, but I read on a Patriots board that Butler missed curfew, had pot on him, and argued with the coaching staff. Makes sense, but again, just hearsay.


    I heard the same (about the pot, anyway). Although I read he was caught smoking it.

    Chinese whispers at it's finest, no doubt.

    A picture probably surfaced from when he was 17 of him standing 20 foot away from a guy that smoked it 35 years ago.
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  • pittpnthrs wrote:I have no link and no proof so take it for what it is, but I read on a Patriots board that Butler missed curfew, had pot on him, and argued with the coaching staff. Makes sense, but again, just hearsay.


    Possibly "stories" coming out to justify a questionable coaching decision? When Rowe was asked about it he said it was a surprise to him. Still doesn't add up.

    Speaking of Rowe, are we sure he played well in the 2nd half? I mean Phily still moved the ball up and down the field and on a high-light I watched he was the one burned in the third quarter on a wheel route to Ertz.
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  • HawkRiderFan wrote:
    pittpnthrs wrote:I have no link and no proof so take it for what it is, but I read on a Patriots board that Butler missed curfew, had pot on him, and argued with the coaching staff. Makes sense, but again, just hearsay.


    Possibly "stories" coming out to justify a questionable coaching decision? When Rowe was asked about it he said it was a surprise to him. Still doesn't add up.

    Speaking of Rowe, are we sure he played well in the 2nd half? I mean Phily still moved the ball up and down the field and on a high-light I watched he was the one burned in the third quarter on a wheel route to Ertz.


    Honestly when your defense makes two defensive stops the entire game, I'm not sure anyone is really playing all that well :lol: Gillmore did well on Jeffery, though, pretty much shut him out the rest of the game after manning up IIRC.
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  • JGfromtheNW wrote:
    HawkRiderFan wrote:
    pittpnthrs wrote:I have no link and no proof so take it for what it is, but I read on a Patriots board that Butler missed curfew, had pot on him, and argued with the coaching staff. Makes sense, but again, just hearsay.


    Possibly "stories" coming out to justify a questionable coaching decision? When Rowe was asked about it he said it was a surprise to him. Still doesn't add up.

    Speaking of Rowe, are we sure he played well in the 2nd half? I mean Phily still moved the ball up and down the field and on a high-light I watched he was the one burned in the third quarter on a wheel route to Ertz.


    Honestly when your defense makes two defensive stops the entire game, I'm not sure anyone is really playing all that well :lol: Gillmore did well on Jeffery, though, pretty much shut him out the rest of the game after manning up IIRC.


    Yeah Gillmore played surprisingly well once they just had him follow Jeffery. Though some of the catches Jeffrey made at the start were absurd and not really the CB's fault. It didn't really matter, Foles had all day to throw wherever he wanted. Ertz became a back-breaker towards the end, they couldn't cover him, especially on critical downs.
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  • The closest thing I've seen to guys who aren't on the team but know people in the organization claim he was sick for most of the week which delayed his flight, had disciplinary issues at the hotel with curfew and possibly weed, and during the week was argumentative with the coaching staff at practice. They seem to think BB felt his head wasn't in the right place to focus on the RPO and know where he had to be with the schemes and coverages.

    At the end of the day, he's still more talented than the guys who took his place and the fact he didn't see a minute in the second half when the defense couldn't get off the field makes me believe this is all Belichick enforcing his policy no matter what. I wouldn't say it necessarily cost them to the game since no one could cover but there were a few after the catch plays made by guys like Agholor which I think he might have stopped.
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  • If Butler were in the dog house over curfew violation/drug possession, he would have been in street clothes at kickoff.

    If curfew/drugs violations normally get someone traded/cut, but you can't afford to play without them, then that player sees the field at some stage.

    If his illness and (drop in) recent form were solely to blame, Rowe would've been given more notice than day-of-the-Super-Bowl to get himself ready. Rowe said he was shocked and surprised on game day morning to get the promotion news. If Rowe found out days/a week prior, why was Butler suited/in tears?

    If Butler was deemed to weak from illness to play, he wouldn't have been playing on special teams on Sunday.

    So a player who played 90+% of the previous games defensive snaps is in pads on the sideline as the rest of the CBs are turned to toast by a backup QB.

    Something doesn't add up.
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  • uncle fester wrote:If Butler were in the dog house over curfew violation/drug possession, he would have been in street clothes at kickoff.

    If curfew/drugs violations normally get someone traded/cut, but you can't afford to play without them, then that player sees the field at some stage.

    If his illness and (drop in) recent form were solely to blame, Rowe would've been given more notice than day-of-the-Super-Bowl to get himself ready. Rowe said he was shocked and surprised on game day morning to get the promotion news. If Rowe found out days/a week prior, why was Butler suited/in tears?

    If Butler was deemed to weak from illness to play, he wouldn't have been playing on special teams on Sunday.

    So a player who played 90+% of the previous games defensive snaps is in pads on the sideline as the rest of the CBs are turned to toast by a backup QB.

    Something doesn't add up.


    I'm not positive, but I think you have to submit your roster 24 hrs ahead of game time. So Butler had to dress, and I imagine Belichick would have used him as an emergency DB if needed.

    I admire Belichick, he did what a lot of coaches wouldn't in the biggest game of the year, stuck by his rules. You put yourself ahead of the team? You don't play. Period.

    Maybe our own coach who likes to bend the rules for his better players could learn a thing or two about how important it is to be strict about putting yourself ahead of team.
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  • hawknation2018 wrote:Eric Rowe was New England's 4th highest graded player on PFF from the Super Bowl:
    https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/p ... atriots-33


    I don't think the question is necessarily about Eric starting over Butler but why NE was using less qualified safeties covering the slot as opposed to Butler. Probably a lot we don't know.
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  • seahawkfreak wrote:
    hawknation2018 wrote:Eric Rowe was New England's 4th highest graded player on PFF from the Super Bowl:
    https://www.profootballfocus.com/news/p ... atriots-33


    I don't think the question is necessarily about Eric starting over Butler but why NE was using less qualified safeties covering the slot as opposed to Butler. Probably a lot we don't know.


    Absolutely. I doubt we will ever know, either.
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  • I say no, and I would argue it’s because Butler is overrated. All of the Eagles wrs were good enough to beat the Eagles secondary, especially with the play calls and Foles finding his inner Kurt Warner.
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  • It still doesn't add up. So if Butler is over-rated and not that good, then why was he playing ahead of these guys all year, to the point where he took 97 or so percent of the snaps? It was right before the Super Bowl that Belichick and Patricia suddenly dial up some new schemes that requires them to bench a guy they used all year? Well in that case, both those coaches wear huge goat horns for that reason cause the schemes and game plan they came up with were absolute failures.
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  • HawkRiderFan wrote:It still doesn't add up. So if Butler is over-rated and not that good, then why was he playing ahead of these guys all year, to the point where he took 97 or so percent of the snaps? It was right before the Super Bowl that Belichick and Patricia suddenly dial up some new schemes that requires them to bench a guy they used all year? Well in that case, both those coaches wear huge goat horns for that reason cause the schemes and game plan they came up with were absolute failures.


    Not only 97% or 98% of regular season snaps, 100% of playoff snaps as well.

    Rowe played well after getting roasted in the first quarter, but Foles was 6/7 for 137 yards when targeting Butler's replacements (Rowe, Bademosi and Richards) on third down alone. I think it's pretty disingenuous to suggest Butler wouldn't increase the chances of making another stop or two in that game, no matter how "average" people want to say he is.

    The fact of the matter is he is (was) the 2nd or 3rd best corner on that roster and he didn't see a defensive snap.
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  • The Eagles were missing their starting QB, pro bowl LT, and numerous other players.

    Even taking away Butler, the Eagles were missing more key players

    So no, this is not a valid excuse for them
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  • HawkRiderFan wrote:It still doesn't add up. So if Butler is over-rated and not that good, then why was he playing ahead of these guys all year, to the point where he took 97 or so percent of the snaps? It was right before the Super Bowl that Belichick and Patricia suddenly dial up some new schemes that requires them to bench a guy they used all year? Well in that case, both those coaches wear huge goat horns for that reason cause the schemes and game plan they came up with were absolute failures.



    But isnt this typical BB, and part of what he gets so much credit for doing?
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  • Sgt. Largent wrote:
    uncle fester wrote:If Butler were in the dog house over curfew violation/drug possession, he would have been in street clothes at kickoff.

    If curfew/drugs violations normally get someone traded/cut, but you can't afford to play without them, then that player sees the field at some stage.

    If his illness and (drop in) recent form were solely to blame, Rowe would've been given more notice than day-of-the-Super-Bowl to get himself ready. Rowe said he was shocked and surprised on game day morning to get the promotion news. If Rowe found out days/a week prior, why was Butler suited/in tears?

    If Butler was deemed to weak from illness to play, he wouldn't have been playing on special teams on Sunday.

    So a player who played 90+% of the previous games defensive snaps is in pads on the sideline as the rest of the CBs are turned to toast by a backup QB.

    Something doesn't add up.


    I'm not positive, but I think you have to submit your roster 24 hrs ahead of game time. So Butler had to dress, and I imagine Belichick would have used him as an emergency DB if needed.

    I admire Belichick, he did what a lot of coaches wouldn't in the biggest game of the year, stuck by his rules. You put yourself ahead of the team? You don't play. Period.

    Maybe our own coach who likes to bend the rules for his better players could learn a thing or two about how important it is to be strict about putting yourself ahead of team.


    so you're going to assume this is what happened, praise the losing coach for doing it and chastise the coach here.. all based on a twitter rumor?
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  • Uncle Si wrote:
    HawkRiderFan wrote:It still doesn't add up. So if Butler is over-rated and not that good, then why was he playing ahead of these guys all year, to the point where he took 97 or so percent of the snaps? It was right before the Super Bowl that Belichick and Patricia suddenly dial up some new schemes that requires them to bench a guy they used all year? Well in that case, both those coaches wear huge goat horns for that reason cause the schemes and game plan they came up with were absolute failures.



    But isnt this typical BB, and part of what he gets so much credit for doing?


    True, but this time he might have gone too far in trying to be cute. The say I see it, I give BB credit for what he has accomplished in the past and how these moves tend to work out. But at the same time I don't think that makes him above criticism and in this case, suddenly benching a stating defensive back in a game where your pass D got torched looks like a bad move. Proves he's human and even the great Bellichick can make mistakes.
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  • HawkRiderFan wrote:
    Uncle Si wrote:
    HawkRiderFan wrote:It still doesn't add up. So if Butler is over-rated and not that good, then why was he playing ahead of these guys all year, to the point where he took 97 or so percent of the snaps? It was right before the Super Bowl that Belichick and Patricia suddenly dial up some new schemes that requires them to bench a guy they used all year? Well in that case, both those coaches wear huge goat horns for that reason cause the schemes and game plan they came up with were absolute failures.



    But isnt this typical BB, and part of what he gets so much credit for doing?


    True, but this time he might have gone too far in trying to be cute. The say I see it, I give BB credit for what he has accomplished in the past and how these moves tend to work out. But at the same time I don't think that makes him above criticism and in this case, suddenly benching a stating defensive back in a game where your pass D got torched looks like a bad move. Proves he's human and even the great Bellichick can make mistakes.



    Dont get me wrong, he certainly deserves criticism. He's made questionable tactical moves in the past and lost the gamble. It fails to get noticed because they have won 5 super bowls, but only one didnt come down to the last play of the game. His teams have ridden the edge for 17 years, and come out 5-3. a play here or there and they aren't so shiny... or elite.

    Good with the bad. I think he and Brady deserve for more criticism than they get. this may be the start
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