Almost everyone remembers the interception that ended Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks that gave the New England Patriots the win. First and goal from the one-yard line everyone expected the Seahawks to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch but instead, they threw the ball and it was intercepted. It gave Tom Brady his fourth Super Bowl victory instead of having a 3-3 record and losing his last three. Everyone remembers that play but most people didn’t know the player who made that play.
That player was made by Malcolm Butler and undrafted rookie cornerback out of the University of West Alabama. The funny thing about that game is if Kyle Arrington wasn’t benched due to his poor play, Butler would have never gotten the opportunity to play in the game and make arguably the biggest play in NFL history. That play single handily changed Brady’s legacy forever. After that play, Butler continued to improve and played a big role in the Patriot’s defense over the last two years as their number one cornerback.
Butler has started all 16 games the last two seasons. In the 2015 season, it was the first time he got regular playing time at the NFL level. In that season he had 56 tackles, two interceptions and 15 passes defended. Last season he had 48 tackles, four interceptions and 16 passes defended. Butler played 98.8 percent of defensive snaps in 2015, and 96.7 percent in 2016. For the most part, Butler is always playing when the defense is on the field.
Entering this season many believed that Bulter would be the number one cornerback paired with newly acquired Stephon Gillmore to create one of the best duos in the league. For their week two game against the New Orleans Saints, Butler didn’t start the game for the first time since the 2014 season because Eric Rowe got the start. In week two Butler only played on 49 of 65 snaps which is only 75 percent of the plays a lot less than his average over the past two seasons.
There are a few possible reasons why Butler played less than he usually does. The Saints have bigger receivers and Rowe is bigger than Butler. Also, Butler struggled in week one against the Kansas City Chiefs. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Butler plays against the Houston Texans especially because they have a top wide receiver in the league in Deandre Hopkins. If Butler’s playing time continues to decrease it could be another Jamie Collins situation in New England. Butler is a very talented player but Coach Bill Belichick has traded away many talented players before so it will be interesting to see what happens in this situation after what happened this offseason with Butler.
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