Will Gronk rule on Sunday?

One of the dumbest things I’ve heard in sports was said several years ago. The New England Patriots were rolling to another inevitable Super Bowl appearance as Tom Brady was carving up defenses. Then Rob Gronkowski got hurt, and people naturally wondered what impact that would have on the Patriots offense. I was stunned at the time when many so-called experts said the Patriots could easily overcome that loss and continue to dominate. Of course the opposite happened and the Patriots were on their couches for the Super Bowl.

Gronk is healthy this year, and that’s one huge factor as to why the Patriots are back for their sixth Super Bowl appearance with Tom Brady. Analysts love to point out that Brady has rarely had great receivers at his disposal, and that’s true. But in the latter stages of his career he’s had one of the most dominating tight ends we’ve seen. Gronkowski is a scoring machine and he’s a matchup nightmare for most defenses. So if you’re leaning towards the Patriots , Gronk is probably one of the main factors you’re considering.

Of course, the Seattle defense won’t be intimidated, and they will have a plan for Gronk. Peter King breaks this down nicely as he looks back to how the Legion of Boom disrupted another great tight end in Jimmy Graham by jamming him at the line. Yet King points out, correctly, that jamming a physical beast like Gronk is an entirely different matter. The Patriots will be ready for this strategy and will certainly have a plan to break Gronk free. Also, too much emphasis on Gronk by Seattle can open up other options for Brady and the offense.

For example, too much emphasis on Gronk can open up the running game as well, as those safeties may be out of position if they’re constantly obsessed with hitting Gronk at the line. So keep your eyes on the big man, even when he’s not the main target.


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