I have a theory about why Malcolm Butler didn’t play in the super bowl and it has something to do with Bill Belichick’s future. For those of you who listen to A Chester Minute you know that going into the game I thought the Patriot’s CBs were perfect matchups for the Eagles WRs. While Gilmore proved me right by shutting down Jeffery in the second half of the game, my theory was based on Butler, one of the Patriot’s best defenders doing his share.
I like to think I’m a smart guy but my football knowledge is MAYBE 1/1000th of Belichicks, so why did he bench him? I think we first need to patch together what we know. Devin McCourty came out and said they knew all week that Butler wasn’t starting. We also know Butler didn’t fly with the team. While it was reported that he was sick, maybe there was more to the story. My thought is that Butler did something against team rules, written or unwritten, and Belichick benched him to prove a point. WHY would you bench one of your best players during a super bowl though, especially with Tom Brady’s championship window closing? Culture.
While it is hard to explain how much a team’s culture contributes to their success let’s just briefly look at this year’s super bowl teams. The Patriots have “the Patriot way” everyone always talks about. Their culture is: come in, work hard and IF you can help the team, you’ll play. That culture has won five super bowl rings and if you take away a combined three plays, they very well may have eight rings. The Eagles are about as opposite as can be but their culture of having fun in games led them to be close throughout the year. When Wentz went down and they embraced an underdog role, they had a parade down Broad Street within 2 months.
While ESPN has been reporting that Belichick could be on his way out, maybe the company who manufactured deflategate and openly doesn’t like the Patriots was wrong. Maybe Bill Belichick is staying around (now to help McDaniels learn to ropes) for another 3-5 years. Maybe the best coach of all time looked at the situation with Butler and thought “we might win this super bowl with him, but it’s going to hurt our chances at winning 2-3 in the next 5 years” and therefore had to bench him. Did he really have to bench him the entire game? What did Butler do wrong? I don’t know. We may never know, I doubt Belichick is going to say anything. This situation is about as odd as I could think of and if this isn’t the case Belichick may have cost them one super bowl ring, but maybe he just built them the culture to win two.