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Imagine you have a girlfriend. I know, it’s going to take a momentary suspension of reality (Jk, bro. You’re a catch.) You and your girlfriend–lets call her Cheryl–are happy as can be. You two kiss in public, do date nights, she laughs at your jokes and lets you hang out with your friends. You’re basically living out a real life Nicholas Sparks novel.
Then, one day, before you two are about to go to pottery class, she breaks up with you. Just like that. To add insult to injury, she admits she’s leaving you for her personal trainer, Chet, who is a bit taller and bulkier, but who’s also named Chet.
Imagine the confusion you’d feel. The bewilderment. Things were SO good.
That feeling is what hundreds of thousands of New Englanders are feeling this very moment. And will for the foreseeable future.
Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia benched arguably their most dynamic defensive playmaker in the biggest game of the year. Malcolm Butler had played 98 percent of the snaps in the regular season and zero defensive snaps in the Super Bowl. And for what? To give up 41 points and 538 yards of offense.
I mean, scapegoating is for the weak, but holy shit. Absolutely befuddling.
And Patriots Nation still doesn’t have a sufficient answer for it. And probably never will.
New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was asked nine times at his press conference why Malcolm Butler didn’t play a snap at cornerback in the Super Bowl. Nine. He skirted the issue every time.
Here are Patricia’s “answers” to the nine questions, as transcribed by MassLive:
1. What went into the decision with Malcolm not to play him tonight on defense?
“We just played all the guys we could to try to help us win, whatever packages we had, a couple different situations came up and just trying to move some things around. So, that’s about it.”
2. Was he physically able to play, though?
“Yeah, again, I think we just, you know, tried to play all these packages to put everybody out there exactly for the game, so he was active for the game and anybody that is active for the game is ready to go. We just had a situation where we had some matchups and packages that we went with.”
3. Why didn’t Malcolm play on defense at all today?
“Yeah, again, we were just trying to run some packages we had on defense and those guys that were out there were there for all the situations that we needed them for. So, it kind of turned out that way and the game with the way it went and some of the situations that came up, that was just kind of the way it went.”
4. He started 17 out of 18 games for you. It just seemed kind of odd that he couldn’t find his way onto the field when they’re putting up 42 points. It’s gotta be more than that.
“I mean, look, again, we had some guys in different spots that we practiced and in those spots for a couple of weeks. We just felt good about some of those situations that we had out there and some of the matchups that we had that they possessed based on their skill level too.
5. He’s one of the best players on your team. How could you have him on the sidelines for the entire game?
“I mean again, we’re just trying to put everybody in the right spot to make plays, by putting the guys that we thought–
6. By having him on the sideline?
“No, no, the guys that I thought — that we thought could make the plays in the right situation.”
7. …You kept him active, but you didn’t play him at the position that he’s best at.
“I mean we needed enough guys to be active for the game to play. For whatever situations that came up, if he was called upon, he was ready to play in those packages if that situation arose.”
8. Was the situation discipline, do you know?
“Again, it was just the packages that we had in and the guys we had out there for the matchups that we saw.”
9. I imagine this is a repeat, but, I wonder Malcolm Butler didn’t play tonight?
“Again, it’s just some of the packages that we had setup and some of the matchups that we were looking at. You know, he was ready to go if we needed him and it just didn’t work out that way, you know, in those situations.”
I’m just a fan. I’m not overly familiar with NFL schemes. Far from an expert. But, anyone with two eyes and half a brain could deduce that not playing one of your best players in the Super Bowl is the stupidest fucking move you can make. There is no counter-argument that undermines that fact. And the fact that I’ll likely never know the real reason why is the hardest part.