Hannable: Tom Brady has good reason to be upset with Bill Belichick, and it’s not over Alex Guerrero

Ryan Hannable
February 06, 2018 - 12:03 am

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Tom Brady had one of the greatest performances in Super Bowl history against the Eagles, but lost the game, 41-33.

All because of Bill Belichick benching one of the better players on his defense in cornerback Malcolm Butler. 

Belichick has taken away Alex Guerrero's (Brady's personal trainer) access to Gillette Stadium. This forced him to work on Brady in a family suite, shown in Tom vs. Time, before the Week 17 game against the Jets because his private office is no more. But, this isn’t why Brady should be upset with Belichick this week.

It’s because his decision to not play Butler spoiled arguably Brady’s best playoff game ever and a sixth Super Bowl ring.

The 40-year-old finished the game 28-for-48 with 505 yards, three touchdown passes and no interceptions. The 505 yards passing were the most in Super Bowl history. In fact, there have been three Super Bowls where a quarterback has thrown for 400 yards or more, and Brady has two of them (last year vs. Atlanta with 466 was the previous high).

Furthermore, the 33 points were the most scored in a Super Bowl loss, and the 613 total yards are the most in a loss in any game in NFL history. Also, Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to lose a game (regular season or postseason) with at least 500 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Brady did not deserve to lose the game, but a major reason why he did was the Patriots didn’t have Butler on defense.

After playing 97.8 percent of the defensive snaps during the regular season, he didn’t play any in Super Bowl LII. Instead, Eric Rowe was the No. 2 cornerback and even Johnson Bademosi played over him as the No. 3 corner. 

The Patriots allowed 538 yards, which were the most ever allowed by the Patriots defense under Belichick. Butler certainly could have helped.

“I addressed [it] after the game,” Belichick said on a conference call Monday. “I respect Malcolm’s competitiveness and I am sure that he felt like he could have helped. I am sure other players felt the same way, but in the end, 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.”

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, it was a complicated issue involving multiple factors, including Butler showing up a day late in Minnesota because he was sick, having a bad week of practice, attitude issues, and a small violation of team rules that occurred earlier in the week. Also, WEEI's Kirk Minihane reported it was not a discipline issue and Belichick made the final decision just hours before the game, which made some players and coaches "furious."

No matter what it was, it just seems like the Super Bowl wasn’t the time to make a point to the 27-year-old. Butler is a free agent after the season, so couldn’t Belichick have dealt with it for just one game and not punish the rest of the team?

Even former Patriots outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich questioned the move.

“I mean, if it was discipline, I don’t know if that is the best way to go about it," he said Monday on Dale & Holley with Keefe. "You need good players on the field to execute. Bill says it all the time, Bill will say it in interviews, ‘Coaches don’t win games, players do. Coaches lose games.’ At the end of the day you have to have your best players on the field and you question if Malcolm not being on the field is the best option to win the football game.”

Belichick has been known for scrapping game plans in the middle of games over the years, so why didn’t he see Rowe and Bademosi weren’t getting it done and insert Butler into the game to start the second half? After all, he had almost 30 minutes at halftime to think about it.

Like before, Butler is a free agent and certainly isn’t coming back, so isn’t potentially winning a Super Bowl greater than an ego thing for Belichick?

Brady certainly did his part Sunday night, it’s hard to say the same for Belichick.

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