Is Gronkowski A Factor During The Postseason

By PFC Patriots Blogger Shaun Brown

Is a healthy Rob Gronkowski what the New England Patriots really need come playoff time?  There is no doubt that the Patriots offense is red hot with or without Gronkowski, but they definitely become more versatile and a lot harder to defend with their two tight end sets.  Gronkowski broke his forearm in a Week 11, 25 point rout of the Indianapolis Colts, on a meaningless play.  The injury happened when he was attempting to block an extra point.  He was forced to the sideline for five games in which the Patriots went 4-1 without him with a lone loss to the 49ers in Foxborough.  After returning to duty in their first playoff game of the season, Gronkowski re-injured his forearm on his very first target which resulted in an incomplete pass.  The Patriots will now go the rest of the way without their star tight end.  In the Week 3 match-up versus the Baltimore Ravens, Gronk was held to just two receptions for 21 yards in a 31-30 road loss. So if the Patriots were able to almost manage a win without Gronkowski putting up blazing hot numbers, the AFC Championship match-up shouldn’t be any different with or without him right?

I beg to differ.  Much of what makes him a stand out athlete is the fundamentals that do not show up on the stats sheet at the end of games.  Gronkowski is one of the best, if not the best, blocking tights ends in the game today.  Aaron Hernandez and Michael Hoomanawanui will need to step up their blocking assignments if Tom Brady looks to get extra time in the pocket and the Patriots running backs look to gain yards out on the edges.  I would look to Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Aaron Hernandez to pickup the usual slack in the receptions category.  Welker and Lloyd combined for 250 yards on 17 receptions back in their Week 3 matchup with the Ravens.  Having Hernandez healthy for this game will benefit the Pats in the passing game, especially in the red zone without Gronkowski.

Conclusion: If New England advances to the Super Bowl over Baltimore, I have a feeling it will be due largely to the fact that they keep their tight end presence known in the red zone and that all the blocking assignments were dealt with correctly.  We all know what this team is capable of regardless of which player is on the field or not.  It’s a system.  It’s been a system.  It will always be a system.  And like any well oiled machine that’s rolling ahead a full speed, it will take something external to knock it out of sync.

Prediction: The Pats end Ray Lewis’s storybook career.  Look for Baltimore to cover the line, but New England to advance to the Super Bowl.

Listed below is Gronkowski’s postseason statistics as well as the team’s result during those games.

Year

Game

Receptions

Yards

Result

2010

Jets

4

65

L 28-21

2011

Broncos

10

145

W 45-10

2011

Ravens

5

87

W 23-20

2011

Giants

2

26

L 21-17

2012

Texans

0

0

W 41-28