The New England Patriots steamrolled the New York Jets yesterday, beating them 41-3. It was a successful day for the entire team as it played well in all three phases of the game while leaving without any injuries on a day that saw two AFC hopefuls lose their starting quarterbacks. In short: It was a good Christmas eve for the team.
Well, except for one player: Malcom Brown. Until yesterday, the 22-year old formed the starting defensive tackle duo together with Alan Branch. Against the Jets, however, it was rookie Vincent Valentine who took this spot until Brown came off the bench in the fourth quarter — at which point the game was already decided.
Naturally, this led to speculation why Brown was demoted. Turns out that it was neither performance nor health related: According to Mike Reiss, Brown was late to a meeting this week and starting the game on the bench was the consequence.
Under head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots take a hard stance on appearing late to practices or meetings no matter your status on the team. Randy Moss, Darrelle Revis and Jonas Grey, fresh off a 201-yard rushing performance, all had to experience this. And while Brown has evolved into a starter and defensive leader, the same rules apply to him: You show up late, you feel the consequences.
Reiss also notes, though, that many inside the Patriots organization view Brown as "mature beyond his years" and that his arriving late to a meeting appears to fall under the category "honest mistake". Consequently, he should be back in the starting lineup next week against the Miami Dolphins.