Devin McCourty clarified in a new interview that the Patriots defense knew Malcolm Butler wasn't starting in Super Bowl LII against the Eagles. But they did not, in fact, know that Butler wouldn't play at all.
In other words, the mystery continues. As to why Butler remained on the bench for all defensive snaps in the Patriots' loss to the Eagles, we still don't know and may never find out.
Speaking to SiriusXM Radio, McCourty expounded upon his earlier comments that the Patriots knew ahead of the Super Bowl that Butler wasn't starting on defense. But of course, that does not explain why he never entered the game on defense at all, even as his backups looked over-matched and got torched by Nick Foles and the Eagles.
"We never really knew...the starting part we knew, but him not playing...as Bill said it was a coaching decision," said McCourty.
Still No Answers
Asked if Butler's absence hurt the defense, McCourty took a very Patriots-like, diplomatic approach: "A lot hurt us...we didn't stop anything defensively...we can go down the list of Hall of Famers we could have used."
Clearly, this story still doesn't appear close to going away. And it may never completely disappear. But ultimately, it seems as if Bill Belichick did indeed make a pure football decision not to play Butler for any defensive snaps in the Super Bowl.
However, as long as there remains a lack of answers, there will also remain questions. How could Butler have been any worse than Johnson Bademosi? How bad could Butler have really been in the week leading up to the Super Bowl that he goes from over 97 percent of defensive snaps for the whole season to zero in the Super Bowl? Why would the coaches never even consider an adjustment that included Butler making it on the field for the defense?
The real answers may never come. And it sounds like McCourty could have some of the same questions about Butler that most people in New England have.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].