Rob Gronkowski clearly caught everyone’s attention in week one after grabbing three touchdowns and quieting a Steelers team that had talked all week about how they planned on jamming the veteran tight end in the hopes of shutting him down.
Well, that didn’t happen and Gronkowski was a big reason why the Steelers started the 2015 season 0-1.
This week against the Bills he’s been the focal point of some of the chatter coming out of Buffalo, with head coach Rex Ryan conceding there will “probably be some snaps when three guys are on him.” That’s an interesting plan, but likely a deadly one if Tom Brady recognizes it and it could mean we see bigger performances from other players in New England’s offense.
The amazing thing about Gronkowski, and one of the things that makes him so good, is the fact that he’s not only a terrific receiver, he’s also an excellent blocker and that makes it difficult to recognize what role he’s playing on a given play. He could be in blocking on one play, and then after his opponent comes off a play where Gronk got the better of him on the previous snap, they come back harder only to have the veteran tight end slip past him and make a big reception down the field.
That’s tough to defend and despite all the things that have been said, Ryan knows they’re going to have a tough time dealing with him.
“He is hard to cover, there’s no question about that,” said Ryan Wednesday. “I mean shutting him down and all that…this dude, he’s gonna make catches, there’s no question about it. But you just don’t want him to go crazy on you. Three touchdowns, whatever it is. I mean obviously you’re trying like hell to eliminate that. But is he as big of challenge as you’ll face in the league as a tight end? Absolutely he is. His size, his speed, his strength. I don’t know, this just in – he’s pretty good.”
Ryan suggested Wednesday it might take a player as big as King Kong to cover and shut down Gronkowski, something the Bills head coach joked a day later they were “still negotiating” when asked if they had signed King Kong yet. Bills Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said Thursday that other clubs have already tried a variety of methods to slow him down that haven’t necessarily worked out, and they’re going to have their work cut out for him.
“I mean that’s a part of it. Teams have tried a number of different things against him with minimal success. I mean the guys a very talented player. You know like Rex (Ryan) said yesterday, heck if you were having the draft all over again he’d go much higher than where he went. I mean he’s a very talented man, he gets the job done for them. I understand how and why they use him the way that they do. We have our work cut out for us, but we feel like we are up for the task.”
We’ll see how ready they are this weekend.
ROUND TWO OF SPYGATE REDUX COMING?
The first attempt at reviving Spygate saw things fizzle out in less than a week and die down, but it sounds like there could be another story coming soon with new allegations that are sure to make things miserable again.
According to Pynter.org, a site that talks about journalism, there was a article in there from Ed Sherman who writes that Don Van Natta, who co-wrote last week’s big ESPN Magazine story that made waves, which plans on releasing more details on the topic in the coming weeks.
After the story came out, Van Natta said it helped “shake the tree”, saying “very ripe fruit” fell and that he doesn’t think we’re done with this just yet.
Van Natta wouldn’t get into details but did admit a couple of leads involved other teams, “although the Patriots remain the main focus.”
Bill Belichick already admitted recently that the accusations diminishing the achievements of what some of his past players had accomplished is “kind of sad” and one would assume he won’t be pleased when the next round hits. Hopefully it will die off as quietly as the last one did, although it’s sure to add more fuel to a team that already has more than enough to motivate them this season.
COLTS REPORTER SEES STORY BACKFIRE:
Sometimes you just have to know when it’s time to back off a little and unfortunately for Colts reporter Bob Kravitz, he doesn’t seem to understand that.
Most Patriots fans remember Kravitz as the one who broke the initial story surrounding “DeflateGate”, which obviously turned into quite a fiasco. Now, after Brady managed to escape the 4-game suspension handed down to him from Roger Goodell, the Patriots followed that up with reinstating the two employees who were suspended but have rejoined the club in a different capacity.
As a result, Kravitz decided to ask ex-NFL linesman Mark Baltz some questions about it and Baltz initially made some potentially troublesome comments about locker-room attendant Jim McNally, including the fact that he had suspicions of potentially harmful conduct.
“If he could get them 10 or 15 minutes before he was supposed to get them, instead of the usual two minutes before the game – and there were some crews that let him do that – he would do it,” Baltz told Kravitz. “I wouldn’t let him take them early, and I think he eventually figured that out because he stopped asking after a while. I probably did 10 to 15 games up there (in Foxboro, Mass.) and those first few times, he’d always ask. I always thought it was very suspicious. He certainly acted in a suspicious manner.’’
This would be all well and good, if it wasn’t for the fact other reporters fact-checked this story after it came out and pointed out Baltz has only done three of Brady’s home games with McNally in charge of the officials room, not 10-15.
So there’s a major hole in his story. Not that there’s a big surprise there considering how this entire offseason has unfolded, but this knowledge obviously changes things dramatically and fortunately the next attempted witch hunt has been silenced for the time being.
COULD RYAN BE INTERESTED IN PATRIOTS DE JONES?
One interesting bit came out of Ryan’s press conference on Thursday while looking over his transcript. When asked a fairly innocent question after a reporter simply asked, “what makes Chandler Jones so special?” Ryan responded, “Do I get in trouble if I talk about another guy?” and followed it with, “New England will think that I’m tampering or something like that with him.”
It was a strange response, especially given his answers when previously talking about Gronkowski after similar questions. That answer likely means that Ryan must be aware that Jones in the final year of his contract in New England, which would leave you to ponder whether the Bills might be in the mix for his services after the season to bolster a Buffalo defense that’s already pretty good.
After settling down following the question, Ryan had some good things to say about the veteran defensive end, who signed a 4-year contract back on May 23, 2012. There has been some speculation that this could be his final year as a Patriots player and as much as it would be tough to see him go, it would be even more frustrating to see him going after Brady twice a season.
“Chandler Jones is a great, you know obviously he’s got…the first thing you notice is that length and the motor he plays with,” said Ryan. “Obviously you don’t want to get in a martial arts fight with him. You know because the blood lines with Jon Jones and all that. So you know you make note of that too.”
However, Jones seems to prefer how things are done here compared to what he’s seen out of Ryan’s club.
“That’s how you’re a professional,” Jones said. “Professionals should carry themselves that way. Let the pads do your talking and not your mouth.”
Hopefully he’ll still feel that way after the season should the Bills come calling.
OTHER NOTES: According to the Boston Globe, the NFL reportedly filed paperwork Thursday to fight to reinstate the suspension of Brady, although most reports seem to believe even if it was reinstated, it probably wouldn’t happen this season. Other legal analysts such as Michael McCann seem to feel that the league doesn’t stand a strong chance of getting Judge Berman’s ruling overturned, but clearly the Commissioner is determined to come out on top…According to the league’s transaction wire, the Patriots waived defensive tackle Khyri Thorton on Thursday. The trade with the Texans to acquire WR Keshawn Martin also finally became official and revealed that New England gave up a 5th and received a 6th round pick in next year’s draft.
UPDATE 8:34am: The Patriots actually received a 6th round pick for Martin, and gave up a 5th round pick in 2016 in exchange for the former Texans receiver.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary