It hasn’t even been a week yet, but people are already starting to forget how Bill Belichick cost his team the Super Bowl.
There were a few reasons why I thought the New England Patriots might lose this game, but Belichick certainly wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, the Philadelphia Eagles are now proud owners of a Lombardi Trophy and the Pats may have been dethroned for good.
And it’s all because one of the greatest coaches in football history made one of the greatest mistakes in football history: benching All-Pro cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Not only did Belichick bench Butler literally minutes before kickoff, but he kept him on the sidelines for the entire game, as Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles threw the ball with just as much authority and success as the future Hall of Famer he was opposing.
It’s still unclear as to why Belichick benched Butler, but rumors suggest it may have had to do with a combination of both Butler being sick earlier in the week and later missing a curfew. Regardless of the reasoning – if there even is any – the answer Belichick gave in his post-game press conference is an insult to everyone’s intelligence:
“We have to make the decisions that we feel are best for the football team and that is what we did… that is what I did. That’s really all I can say about it.”
Sitting your best defensive player in the Super Bowl was “best for the football team”? Even if he truly believed this at kickoff, Belichick should’ve done what was truly “best for the football team” and put Butler in. When it became abundantly clear in the first half that Foles was having a field day with the Pats secondary, especially Butler’s replacement, Eric Rowe, Belichick should have allowed his former starting cornerback in the game.
Some argue Belichick was simply protecting Butler after the game, that perhaps he did something so unforgivable that benching him in the Super Bowl will end up looking like a lax punishment. I don’t buy that for one second. And maybe he did miss a curfew or break some other team rule. To assume the Eagles – the Eagles! – would be playing their most innocent players rather than their best players is so funny that it’s sad.
Belichick’s been commended – and reprimanded – time and time again for doing whatever it takes to win. It’s genuinely shocking how he single-handedly chose to put his Patriots at such a disadvantage.
For a coach who’s known for telling his players to “do your job”, Bill Belichick certainly didn’t do his in Super Bowl LII.