By Jason Keidel
With a lot swirling across the Patriots this yr, largely the residue of Deflategate, and the scrumptious risk of Roger Goodell handing the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft & Co., we overlook the Pats acquired right here sans their second-greatest participant.
Rob Gronkowski performed his final full recreation towards the Seattle Seahawks on November thirteen. He was injured two weeks later towards the New York Jets, and missed the remainder of the common season. He has not performed within the playoffs.
So, in fact, the Pats haven’t misplaced since. Their army ethic is just astounding. Tom Brady misses the primary 4 video games. No sweat. A hybrid QB assault of Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett goes three-1. When the machine burps, they merely attain again into the gridiron storage and seize a spare half.
Gronkowski, arguably probably the most potent tight finish in NFL historical past, is Brady’s greatest and favourite weapon. Too huge for corners to cowl, too quick for linebackers to blanket, he has defensive coordinators velocity-dialing their psychiatrists.
But to listen to the media and the plenty, you’d by no means know Gronk sat out for 1 / 4, a lot much less a month. The Patriots so strongly adhere to the group ethos it looks like all the group is actually interchangeable. The Patriots wouldn’t be right here with out Brady, in fact, but when there have been one different indispensable a part of the unit, it was Gronkowski.
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Think about the Falcons reaching the Tremendous Bowl with out Julio Jones? The Steelers making the AFC title recreation with out Le’Veon Bell? The Cowboys enjoying with out Ezekiel Elliott?
And Gronk wasn’t simply accumulating a examine when he received harm. He had a monstrous October. In three straight video games, towards the Bengals, Payments and Steelers — hardly three creampuffs, two of which on the street — Gronk scored a TD in every recreation, averaged an absurd 23 yards per catch and had 362 yards. In case you account for the sport towards the Cleveland Browns (October 9), Gronk had 471 yards in 4 video games. These are PlayStation stats for a decent finish.
Positive, it’s good to have Martellus Bennett on the pine, a digital Professional-Bowl expertise as backup TE. However Bennett doesn’t have Gronk’s maddening amalgam of measurement, power and palms. Nor does Bennett have the delicate chemistry that Brady and Gronkowski cultivated during the last seven years.
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