We’re all guilty of saying or thinking some version of the following: “Well once Gronk comes back it will get better, the offense will get on track.”
It’s been five weeks, five grueling games and what we have now is one frustrated quarterback and a fan base that has heard quite enough of the phrase “day to day”.
Having Rob Gronkowski back in the fold will certainly help, but it isn’t the one thing that will get the Patriots offense back on track.
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Since the beginning of the season Bill Belichick hasn’t had much to say about the status of Rob Gronkowski. The fact that he didn’t start the season on injured reserved seemed promising but now it’s week 6 and fans are ready for Gronk to get in the game. He’s become a sort of saving grace for a lackluster offense.
What isn’t exactly fair is the weight that has been placed on his return. Yes it will make a differences and yes it’s better to have him on the field than on the bench, but don’t expect his return to completely change this team. Gronk isn’t the little known tight end anymore. Defenses are ready for him and have a plan in place to limit his impact. Tom Brady hasn’t been throwing the type of passes we’ve seen in the past and his age is starting to show, even if we don’t want to admit it. This opens up opportunities for a defender to deflect a pass or capitalize on a mis-thrown ball and create a turnover. The window gets bigger in double coverage which we can expect a lot of when Gronk finally does return.
One benefit of this is with two men on him, someone else is left open. The concern is, will that receiver be able to come up with the play when called upon? That is something Josh McDaniels will need to prep his offense for. Hopefully the Patriots’ rookie receivers can adjust and we can start seeing some drives that put points on the board and take minutes off the clock. The Patriots offense thus far has lacked any sort of rhythm when trying to get downfield.
The return of a playmaker like Gronk will effect the dynamic of this offense much more than just having him as a reliable receiver. His blocking will open up room for the run and the threat of him in the passing game will help the other receivers. Brady hasn’t made much use of the tight ends so far this season and we know that will change once Gronk enters the game. Just don’t expect him to be the guy who takes this team to the promise land. One player can’t do it alone and it’s up to the coaches, Brady and the team as a whole to adjust and make it work.