We’ve seen less of Rob Gronkowski this year than usual, but it’s not too late for him to make an impact for the Patriots down the stretch.
In 2018, superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn’t been nearly as involved in the offense for the New England Patriots as fans are used to.
In previous seasons, he’s been well known for hauling in an abundance of passes from Tom Brady, oftentimes for very large gains, and a plentiful amount of touchdowns. Since Gronkowski entered the league in 2010, he’s been the biggest key to making this offense move — other than Brady himself, of course.
This season, however, that hasn’t been the case. He has missed three games while dealing with back and ankle problems. And when Gronkowski has been healthy enough to play, his in-game action has been very limited. He has made a few highlight-worthy catches this season, but not near as many as you would expect from the league’s best tight end.
The most recent example of Gronkowski’s down year came during Sunday’s 24-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, when he recorded just three receptions on three targets for 26 yards.
“I feel like obviously I can be more effective, for sure,” Gronkowski said, via NESN.com. “But what I’ve been doing is just putting practices together, just been working hard, just been doing what I’ve been asked to do from my teammates, coaches. I’ve just got to keep doing that and sticking to that.”
It’s not too late for him to get more involved in the offense, however. At 9-3, the Patriots are still hoping to secure a first round bye in the playoffs, but they will have to fend off the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers down the stretch. They have an upcoming game in Pittsburgh in Week 15 that could have a serious impact on the playoff positioning.
If Gronkowski is feeling good, utilizing him more in the passing game could be crucial for the Patriots to get a win at Heinz Field. If they’re unable to win that game, and the Steelers and Texans (who have won nine straight) close out their seasons strong, New England might be playing football during the first week of January rather than enjoying a week of rest — something that hasn’t happened since the 2009 season.
If nothing else, Gronkowski still has a ringing endorsement from his quarterback.
“Any time that he’s out there, I have so much confidence in everything he does,” Brady said. “If they don’t cover him, he gets it. If they cover him, it gives other people opportunity. Our offense the other night was a lot of different guys getting it, and that’s a good way to play offense.”