BOSTON (CBS) — It’s been a week since the Patriots fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, and we’re still digging for answers surrounding the game’s biggest controversy.

Why in the heck did Bill Belichick bench starting cornerback Malcolm Butler? Belichick said it was a football decision after the game, and based on what we’ve learned in the days following the loss, Butler was not left on the sidelines for any disciplinary reasons.

But there has to be something more to the puzzling move, one that Belichick stuck with even as his secondary was being torched on the field. ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is still digging for answers, and has been told by numerous people that it was strictly a football decision based on how Butler was practicing leading up to Super Bowl LII and the macthups the Eagles presented.

Even Reiss finds that hard to believe.

“It leaves you wondering ‘what am I missing here?’ It may have been a football decision based on what we knew going into the game, but as the plan unfolded, maybe you try something different. That would be the one area to question,” Reiss told Steve Burton on Sunday night’s edition of Sports Final on WBZ-TV. “To not even try it for one snap? If you think having Jordan Richards or Johnson Bademosi out there are better options for you, that’s a hard one for Patriots fans, and for me covering the team, to digest and accept if all things are equal.”

After playing nearly every snap during the regular season and New England’s first two playoffs games, Butler saw the field for just one special teams snap in the Super Bowl. He had his share of struggles covering opponents during the regular season, but he’s lauded as one of the better tackling corners in the NFL. Tackling was a major issue for the Patriots against the Eagles, so there’s little doubt Butler could have made a difference on that front as Philadelphia racked up 538 total yards on their way to a Super Bowl title.

“On the surface, it just doesn’t add up. This is a smart coaching staff and that was just so far outside the box,” said Reiss. “Why not [change it up] during the game? That’s the part, to me, that is so surprising.”

Watch the full segment in the video above, and tune in to Sports Final every Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. on WBZ-TV!

Comments (5)
  1. Ed Keenan says:


    1. Ken Rowland says:

      You will be waiting a Year from now… Malcolm Butler did not want to be FRANCHISED ‘TAGGED’… everyone heard him. HE WON’T BE; he also won’t be on the team! Do not Pass Go; Do NOT mess with Coach Bill during Super Bowl Week and/or where YOU expect to be NEXT YEAR!!?? Stupid is as Stupid Does….

  2. Nate Strauss says:

    Belichick sabotaged the SB on purpose to get back at Kraft over Garoppolo.

    1. Domar Steer says:

      Yep Bill blew that one too, I think Jimmy G is worth more than the 45 pick in this year’s draft. Bill should have traded him before the 2017 draft and got the best DE available.

  3. Domar Steer says:

    Bill had to have something against the player on a personal level. Butler was the 52nd ranked corner in 2017; there are 32 teams x 2 = 64 starter so a starter pretty much across the league. Mr. Rowe is not a great corner and proved it in the first quarter of that game giving up two key 3rd downs and a long TD. Bill & Matt Put their second level defense out of alignment all game affecting the entire defense. The key to me is the Pats got torched by Foles and they did not making any adjustment to return to their base defense. This leads me to to conclude Butler was benched with some kind of cause. Since Bill refuses to tell the fans, you know the ones that pay for everything, anything we are left to guess it was petty and ego driven.

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