Jason Whitlock thinks Bill Belichick is taking the high road in the Malcolm Butler benching

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Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Eric Mangini and Tony Gonzalez discuss Malcom Butler's Super Bowl benching. What happened in New England?

- Whitlock, did Belichick's pride cost the Patriots the football game?

- Last night, I thought it did. This morning, today, I don't think it's about pride. I actually think Bill Belichick is taking one for Malcolm Butler. I think if Bill Belichick wanted to spell out the reasons why Malcolm Butler got benched, people would be like, oh, I get it. And Browner's had some additional posts over social media that allude to some potential problems involving Malcolm Butler that caused him to be benched.

I think Bill Belichick is actually taking the high road here, not throwing Malcolm Butler under the bus when he's leaving New England. He won them a Super Bowl with a big play. I think out of respect for Malcolm Butler, Belichick-- he's not going to say why Malcolm Butler got benched, but I don't think it's foolish pride. I think it was irresponsible behavior by Malcolm Butler that I would imagine led to this.

- Well, even as a parent, if you're too rigid or your punishment's too strong, there's repercussions. You know, that's the-- the dad that doesn't let the daughter do anything, you know, she ends up being the rebel. And if the stories are true, what Malcolm Butler did, it doesn't feel like a game suspension. It feels like a dumb move. You keep a guy out for a quarter. I think in the end, of a 53-man roster, 52 guys paid the punishment for one guy. And I don't like that. I don't like that-- I remember in high school--

- That's why I blame Malcolm Butler.

- Well, I'm not saying he's not culpable, but if you're-- everybody else worked for the last seven months on this team. And literally, one of the defensive backs was like, yeah, I didn't know before the game, so now my assignments change against a multiple offense that's well-coached.

- This is-- look, this is a really difficult situation. When you coach the secondary and work in the secondary and you prepare one way throughout the course of the process, the player understands how he fits in the scheme, everybody understands how they fit in relationship to that player, and then suddenly it changes right before, it's a problem, especially against an offense like this with shifts and motions and all the things that go into it.

But just like the Garoppolo trade, we're never going to figure out the different layers behind this. And there has to be something that made him make the decision that's a lot deeper than just one event. This-- to me, it's got to be bigger than that.

And look, Malcolm Butler needs to get his story out because when he goes into free agency, you're talking about one of the greatest, or arguably the greatest, defensive coach benches you before the Super Bowl, teams are going to need a little bit more than I don't know why he did it before they sign him.

- Yeah, and because of what you just said there, I refuse to believe that Belichick would put any-- would compromise his team to send a message to one player in a Super Bowl game. I just don't-- I don't see that. And I thought more about it too. It's like, like with you last night, and I think on your show earlier, I was saying, yeah, that might have been foolish, or maybe if he could think about this, Belichick, maybe he would change his mind.

But I don't think so. I think he felt in his heart, this guy can't help us. He can't deal with the shifts. I don't know what it is. But there's something there that I have to trust the great one. Trust-- why would you go against what Belichick's doing now.

- Didn't this game, though, Jason-- it was different. First of all, New England's never sloppy on special teams. They were. They never got a pass rush. They're the great adjusting team. They never adjusted defensively. They were as bad in the second as they were in the first. Didn't go for it on fourth. I guess that's a-- you know, that's a coin flip. It didn't-- there was so much noise leading up to this Super Bowl, documentaries. This whole week, they were off brand.

- Again-- and I went into this game at the end of the week saying Philadelphia was going to win because I thought something was off with the Patriots. But again, circling back to Malcolm Butler specifically, they wanted to trade him. You know, he won them a Super Bowl, and they wanted to move on from him. That's an indication that there's more of a problem with Malcolm Butler than just his on-field performance. He sounds like a high maintenance guy. And I guarantee you if Belichick made this decision, it's about what transpired all season long, and he got to a final straw Super Bowl week.

- And there's a lot of truth to that. What comes out in the media is such a tip of the iceberg in terms of what really happens throughout the course of the season and the locker room, we only find out a small percentage of it, so you would have to imagine this was the final straw, as opposed to a one off event where he said, OK, I'm gonna make this decision, you know, impulsively.

- He won you a Super Bowl and you wanted to trade him. You wanted to move on from him.

- And also, let's remember that this defense was thin to begin. Hightower's gone so you're thinking to yourself-- I mean, if you watch the film-- you guys watch film-- Philadelphia's O-line jumps off the tape. You're probably thinking to yourself, we're not going to get a huge pass rush, meaning I need my best defensive backs.

- Maybe he's not the best, though. That's the thing about it. Maybe-- maybe he's just not that good compared to the other guys. Maybe he understands the scheme better.

- What bothers me the most about this is-- or it concerns me the most, is Dont'a Hightower liking what Brandon Browner said. This is the defensive captain, and he's got a three-year extension. That, to me, stood out more than anything.

- That stands out to me because I think it's frustration. He just lost the Super Bowl, and it-- come hell or high water, he wanted Malcolm Butler out there because I-- he gave him the best chance, Tony. You can't-- he played 98% of their snaps during the regular season.

- And Jacksonville [INAUDIBLE].

- Yeah, you can't go from that to you don't even play in dime and nickel situations.

- I just-- come on, though. Do you really think in a Super Bowl situation, I'm going to say, you know what? I'm going to send a message to this guy.

- No, no. I don't think it's about sending a message.

- To cost me a Super Bowl? I'm-- I'm just saying I think we can win without him. That's what it's saying.

- It-- he's definitely saying that, but I think he's also just staying true to his message to the team. The Patriots going all the way back to their first Super Bowl, no one's bigger than the team. You know, next man up. He's been preaching that for 17, 18 years. And Malcolm Butler, seems like to me, must've just been pushing and pushing and pushing the envelope, and Belichick snapped.

- Safe to say, he's gone.