Rob Ninkovich says he would be ‘pretty angry’ over Malcolm Butler benching
Bill Belichick has yet to provide an explanation for why he decided to bench Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl on Sunday, and there have been indications that his players are upset with him over it. Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich doesn’t blame them.
In an appearance on “Dale & Holly with Keefe” on WEEI Monday, Ninkovich said he can imagine New England’s defensive players were “angry” over Butler not playing.
“I would be pretty angry, I guess, because everyone out there on that field is giving it everything they’ve got and you want the best players with you,” he said. “I understand the coaching staff said they felt like it gave them the best opportunity to win, but if you look at the outcome of the game and the 7.7 yards per play — it’s like when I played for Miami in 2007, they were 1-15 and they would tell me, ‘Hey, we’re good.’ I would look at them like, ‘No, you’re not. You’re 0-10. Just give me a chance.'”
Ninkovich played for the Patriots for eight years before retiring prior to the 2017 season, so his opinion on the subject holds weight. Rumors have been swirling that Butler violated team rules, but Ninkovich doesn’t even think that would excuse Belichick not letting the cornerback play a single defensive snap.
“I mean, if it was discipline, I don’t know if that is the best way to go about it,” he said. “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.”
Ninkovich said he has no idea why Butler was benched and that he feels badly for his former teammate. If the reason for the benching was disciplinary, you would expect Butler to be more reserved and apologetic about it. Instead, he ripped the Patriots and said he would have been the difference between winning and losing against the Eagles.
If Dont’a Hightower’s social media activity tells part of the story, Patriots players are not happy with their coach.