Super Bowl 52 was a wild shootout, with the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots by a final score of 41-33. It was one of the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time in part because both defenses struggled in a big way.
The Patriots’ struggles in particular highlight an odd coaching decision. Cornerback Malcolm Butler, expected to command a sizable salary in free agency, was benched on defense. He played on special teams, but as far as I can tell, he never touched the field with the Patriots defense.
At halftime, Belichick said, “I made the decisions that give us the best chances to win.” It was clearly a coaches’ decision, and Butler was not pleased after the game.
Malcolm Butler: 'I ain't got nothing to say'— Kevin Patra (@kpatra) February 5, 2018
Fooch’s update: Here’s another quotation from Butler. He’s not pleased.
Just caught up with a very emotional Malcolm Butler, alongside Adam Schefter. "They gave up on me. F—. It is what it is," Butler told us. https://t.co/GQLxM6eTGL— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) February 5, 2018
Fooch’s update No. 2: And more comments
Malcolm Butler: "It was a coach's decision. I was just doing my job and supporting my teammates. I have nothing but great things to say about the organization. They gave me an opportunity. That's about it." https://t.co/jTtjF5ZjJv— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) February 5, 2018
The Patriots could elect to use their franchise tag on Butler, but given his defensive DNP in the biggest game of the year, I would be surprised if they franchised him.
The San Francisco 49ers head into the offseason with a big need at cornerback. Butler and Trumaine Johnson are two of the biggest names in free agency. This year’s draft features some strong options as well, but with Ahkello Witherspoon as the 49ers only option on the outside, it might make sense to bring in a big time veteran.