BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick. Malcolm Butler.
Though the furor has died down considerably since February, those two names will forever be linked for the mysterious and unexplained benching of the cornerback during Super Bowl LII. While Butler has admitted that he didn’t have his best week of practice leading up to that game after he arrived in Minneapolis a day later than his teammates due to illness, that wouldn’t quite explain why the coach decided to staple him to the sideline for the entirety of a painful defensive showing against the Eagles, a game during which Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Richards were given significant playing time. (Both Bademosi and Richards did not stick with the Patriots into the 2018 season.)
And now, with Butler struggling mightily and ranking as one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL by some metrics, and with the Patriots set to go up against him and the Tennessee Titans, the cornerback and the coach are once again a focal point of the commentary in New England.
But, well, Belichick doesn’t appear too interested in fanning any of those flames.
Below are some excerpts from Belichick’s press conference in Foxboro on Wednesday.
Q: You have some familiar defensive faces there in Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler. What have you seen from them this season?
BB: Yeah, well, they lead the league in defense. So, yeah, they’re good, don’t give up big plays.
Q: Statistically, Malcolm Butler has struggled a little bit. He’s allowing a great volume of catches. One scouting service says most by a cornerback in the NFL…
BB: (Sarcastically)That means a lot to me.
Q: OK. But is he doing anything differently this year?
BB: I mean, look, they lead the league in defense, OK? So, that’s our challenge as an offense is we’re playing 11 guys, we’re playing their coaching staff and the schemes they put up against us. And, right now, they’re playing better defense than anybody in the league. So, we’ll see how we do. I don’t know. It will be tough, I know that.
Obviously, Butler will be a talking point regardless of what the Patriots’ head coach says this week. But Belichick is doing what he can to minimize the chatter.