The Patriots will once again be without Rob Gronkowski in Tennessee on Sunday, but it shouldn’t hurt them too much.
As expected, the New England Patriots are continuing to play it safe with their superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is dealing with back and ankle issues (shocking, right?). For the third time in four games, Gronkowski will not be playing when the Patriots square off with the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
While it’s never quite as fun to watch the Patriots without arguably the best tight end in football, on the field, it really shouldn’t impact New England’s offense too severely. To be quite honest, the Patriots have been just fine in the games that Gronkowski has missed.
As a matter of fact, the New England offense has performed significantly better in the two games Gronkowski missed than they did in the one game he played in over the past few contests.
In the last three weeks, New England has played the Chicago Bears on the road, the Buffalo Bills on the road, and the Green Bay Packers at home. The only game Gronkowski played in was the game in Buffalo, and in that game, the Patriots scored nothing but field goals until the fourth quarter. In that game, Gronkowski only reeled in three receptions for 43 yards.
In the other two games, however, the Patriots offense looked nearly flawless. They scored 38 points against Chicago in a seven-point win, and then two weeks later, put up 31 against the Packers in a 31-17 victory. One player that has really stepped up in the absence of both Gronkowski and rookie running back Sony Michel has been veteran receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. The former Vikings wide receiver has even taken snaps at running back, making a handful of solid plays on the ground.
Perhaps the biggest reason the Patriots have still thrived offensively without Gronkowski has been the trade for wide receiver Josh Gordon. Although it took him some time to get acclimated, Gordon has really hit his stride the past few games. Gordon has gone over 100 yards in two of the last three games, and his snap count keeps rising as Brady and him continue to get more comfortable with each other.
In the games without Gronkowski, the Patriots have essentially performed just as well offensively as they would if Gronkowski was available. I’m not saying anything blasphemous like they are better off without the star tight end, but they have clearly proven that he’s not a make-or-break player on this team.
As we are seeing once again in 2018, the only make-or-break player for the Patriots is 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady. Bill Belichick will continue to plug-and-play skill players around Brady to ensure that the New England offense keeps on rolling.