By Justin McKinney, Sports Editor
Tom Brady threw for over 500 yards in Super Bowl LII and hurled three touchdowns with a 58 percent completion percentage and a passer rating of 115; however, Tom Terrific lost. His defense hung him out to dry when he needed them most.
SBLII turned out to be a shootout of epic proportions as the Philadelphia Eagles captured their first Super Bowl victory in a 41-33 game. Malcom Butler, the hero of SBXLIX as he intercepted Russell Wilson in the end zone to seal the game for the Patriots. However, last night Butler was nowhere to be found as he was benched by Bill Belichick.
While rumors have been floating around as to the reason why the cornerback who started almost every game for the Patriots this season didn’t touch the field on defense last night, one thing remains true, the team felt his loss.
If one watched the game closely, they’d notice that the Patriots where getting burned in zone coverages packages throughout the game. These same zone packages that the team was running may have looked familiar as they can be blamed for the horrid start the team had to the season.
While at the beginning of the year the zone packages were in place as the result of some trial and error coaching, last night they existed out of necessity. Having Butler and fellow corner Stephon Diggs on the field at once puts the Patriots in great position to play man coverage.
Take one off the field though and the defense is essentially forced into zone as it cannot play man coverage given the fact it lacks the shutdown play of either corner. Butler’s benching put the Patriots defense in the same vulnerable position that hurt them early in the year as they lost two of their first four games.
Whatever the reason for Butler’s benching was, it wasn’t worth it. He was the missing puzzle piece and I think that if he plays you take at least two touchdowns off the board and the Eagles don’t drive down field on that last drive and take the lead back.
When an NFL defense plays zone for a whole game and doesn’t make proper adjustments because of lack of personnel as what happened in SBLII, they are going to let up a lot of points. I suppose the most aggravating part is that it didn’t have to be this way.
I understand that the Patriots are a strict organization and Belichick is its spearhead, however that defense was embarrassing and frankly it did not have to be.
One also has to wonder, given the fact that Patricia was already hired as the Lions head coach, where was his head at? He was officially announced as head coach this morning, but the fact is he was hired weeks ago.
While I doubt that Belichick would allow him to skimp on coaching the defense in order to plan for his first season as a head coach, one cannot help but wonder.
Either way, the sad fact is that Tom Brady delivered the best Super Bowl performance of all time last night and is going home ring-less over a foolish coaching decision.