Titans coach Mike Vrabel isn’t ready to do what Patriots coach Bill Belichick did to Malcolm Butler. He’s not benching him quite yet.
On Tuesday, one day after the Cowboys picked on Butler during the Titans’ 28-14 win, Vrabel revealed that Butler won’t be demoted this week.
It wasn’t just Monday night. It’s been a season-long struggle for Butler.
According to Pro Football Focus (h/t Mike Clay of ESPN), Butler is responsible for seven of the 14 touchdowns that have been scored on the Titans’ defense this season. On Monday night, the Cowboys scored both of their touchdowns against Butler, who got burned by Amari Cooper and Allen Hurns.
?: #TENvsDAL on ESPN #SaluteToServicepic.twitter.com/woIej2zuAw
“See ya.” – @A1hurns, probably
?: #TENvsDAL on ESPN #SaluteToServicepic.twitter.com/3A1EfYono3
Statistically, he’s been the worst cornerback in football.
In actuality, Butler’s struggles date back to last season when he was still a member of the Patriots. Before his still mysterious benching in the Super Bowl, Butler described his 2017 season as “s—-y.” According to PFF, Butler allowed a 96.6 passer rating in coverage last year, which was way up from his 78.2 passer rating in coverage in 2016.
Despite those struggles, the Titans — a team run by two ex-Patriots in Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson — signed Butler to a five-year, $61 million contract in the offseason. Butler’s average salary of just over $12 million per season ranks as the 10th highest among all cornerbacks, per Spotrac. That’s probably why they’re insistent on letting him play through his issues. As it stands, Butler might just be the worst free-agent signing of the offseason, as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell noted.
The rest of the Titans’ defense, however, is playing at a high level. The Titans are ranked eighth in yards allowed per game and are allowing an NFL-low 17.6 points per game. That’s the biggest reason the Titans are 4-4 and one game behind the Texans in the loss column despite their issues on offense.
Next up for the Titans are the Patriots, giving Butler a chance to redeem himself against the coach that benched him for the Super Bowl.
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