The Ravens have only allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in the regular season, and they held Jimmy Graham to 47 yards receiving. Do the Ravens have a chance of slowing down Rob Gronkowski, or do you throw out those numbers because he is on a different level?
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss: They can definitely slow Gronkowski, but it will come at a cost. One of the most impressive things about Gronkowski’s season to me is how his 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns hardly tell the whole story. It’s plays like touchdown catches by Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen against the Broncos on Nov. 2 that highlight his true value because there were three to four defenders swarming around Gronkowski in the end zone, creating those one-on-one opportunities for Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen. That was pretty commonplace this season with Gronkowski, who is a pure combination tight end in the sense that he can also dominate as a blocker when he wants; it's not just catching the ball. So I’d be surprised if the Ravens can slow Gronkowski consistently with just one player like safety Will Hill. But if they want to devote extra resources to it, they can probably dictate the ball going elsewhere, and the Patriots have shown the ability to capitalize when that happens.
Mark Kizla of the Denver Post: I'm not certain Thomas will be 100 percent healthy until given the offseason to heal.
"We don't always get the opportunity to let things recover the way a doctor would want you to," he said. "When you know you're this close to our goal and you've worked all year to be in this place, you tell yourself: 'Man, we have three games left. Can you get through it for three games? Can you do whatever you can?' "
Thomas was tied in standard fantasy points with Rob Gronkowski through 10 weeks. From Week 11 on, he managed just five catches for 66 yards while appearing in four of his team's seven games.
The Ravens are one of the tougher run defenses in the NFL, ranking fourth this season in holding opponents to an average of 88.3 yards per game and not allowing a 100-yard rusher in the past 27 games. They are a sturdy front seven and with this in mind, it's hard to imagine the Patriots go with a heavy diet of bigger personnel and a power-running approach. Instead, a more likely scenario is that the Patriots attempt to manipulate matchups in hopes of lightening the box and getting the Ravens into sub packages to test their overall quality and depth in the defensive backfield, which is their primary area of vulnerability. For the Patriots to do this, adding a second tight end with more of a pass-catching profile, third receiver, or second running back makes sense. This is where Wright, a "move" tight end, could be a bigger factor. When blocking-based tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is paired with Rob Gronkowski, it usually results in opponents playing base defense. But when Wright is paired with Gronkowski, it has sometimes been sub because he's more of a pass-catching threat. The Patriots have had success going up-tempo with that grouping as well, so we could envision Wright being a bigger part of the plan Saturday, with receiver Danny Amendola and running back Brandon Bolden (in a two-back set with Shane Vereen) as other options.
Wright's production has been spotty, but when the Patriots have called his number, he has usually delivered.
This is just Volin's opinion but there's probably something to it. There's no need to risk your best offensive weapon with nothing to play for this week. With a bye next week to open the playoffs, perhaps Gronk gets a series or two but he's probably not a safe fantasy option to start.
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss on the possibility that the team rests its starters: I view this game as being similar to a fourth preseason contest when the third preseason game doesn’t go as well as planned. I could envision a scenario where the Patriots want to develop a little momentum on offense, and if that comes early, they start making some personnel changes such as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski taking a seat. On defense, key players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, among others, figure to be "protected" as well. The team also has the luxury of allowing some of its injured players extra time to recover, which I’d expect them to do. So their approach preparation-wise won’t change, but I do believe their personnel-related approach will be different than the norm. How significant, and if Brady and Co. play at all, is obviously something we'll be watching closely.
New England has locked up the #1 seed, but the offense isn't exactly clicking, so they may want their starters to play extensively to see if that momentum returns. It's a guessing game as to how long they'll play. At this point were expecting 2-3 quarters from Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
With fewer three-receiver or more packages being called upon this season, the Patriots will likely continue to dress just four receivers on game day, with the final spot coming down to Brian Tyms or Aaron Dobson.
He ended up not returning but the score was 45-7 so there was no need to push it. Gronk was back this week with three TDs and pushing over defenders on his way to the end zone. It's something to monitor but he should be fine.
As Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski's playing time has increased upon his return from a torn right ACL, the Patriots have trended more toward multiple-tight-end groupings, which makes sense. Specifically, the Patriots seem to have found something that works for them -- going empty with the 2-WR/2-TE/1-RB grouping with Gronkowski and Tim Wright at tight end, which in a lot of ways could be viewed as a 3-WR package of sorts because of Wright's presence as more of a pass-catching tight end.
With a lower percentage of three-receiver packages, it has reduced the playing-time totals for pure slot receiver Danny Amendola. But as we saw Thursday, he's still contributing in that niche role (as well as a kickoff returner).
One could also draw the conclusion that inconsistent play along the offensive line has contributed to fewer three-receiver packages. By playing with a second or third tight end instead of a second or third receiver, the Patriots are devoting more resources to the line of scrimmage. Everything starts up front.
The story goes on to say that every offense needs something to hang its hat on and perhaps the Pats found it. Gronk's health has been key to this and multiple TE sets are allowing QB Tom Brady to takes shots down field while at the same time bolstering things up front. The Pats are used multiple TEs 57-percent of the time this season.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 6:35pm
Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle, probable) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Brady only managed 413 passing yards and one touchdown in two meetings with the Jets last season. The good news is that Rob Gronkowski only played in one of those games.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 1:58pm
Returning from reconstructive knee surgery, Pats TE Rob Gronkowski wasn't running a full route tree, couldn't separate from coverage and failed to make defenders miss after the catch.
We started to see signs that Gronk was recapturing pre-injury form when he racked up 100 yards on six receptions in a tight-end centric offense versus the Bengals in Week 5.
After the two-time All-Pro selection caught seven more passes for 94 yards -- including a go route down the right sideline -- in Sunday's victory at Buffalo, Tom Brady was convinced his difference-making go-to target was back.
"Oh yeah, he's back," Brady said after Sunday's game, via ESPN.com. "Absolutely."
The story went on to point out that the last few weeks Gronkowski ran intermediate and deep routes, made sharp cuts, forced missed tackles and absorbed crushing hits. In short, he looked like the player who led the league in red-zone touchdowns, quarterback-to-receiver completion percentage and yards after catch over his first three NFL seasons. Hopefully for owners, you stuck with him through a slow start and limited snaps that was expected as he went through recovery. Gronkowski's matchups for the rest of the season look pretty favorable with currently no top-10 defenses against TEs.
Saturday, October 11, 2014, 8:13am
In four games, opposing tight ends have caught 33 passes for 395 yards against the Benngals. Last week against the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright victimized the Bengals’ defense for 185 yards on 11 catches and two touchdowns.
The writer believes Panther TEs could be key against the Bengals again this week and that's good news for Olsen and his owners. Olsen is officially listed as questionable with an ankle injury, but all indications are he's going to play. However, it's something to keep an eye on leading up to the game.
Saturday, October 11, 2014, 7:53am
But if Wright can keep the good times going after last Sunday’s breakout game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots will once again have a tight end tandem to remind everyone of the way it used to be.
Rob Gronkowski was surprisingly electric against the Bengals, busting out with six receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown, and he made his greatest strides from a physical standpoint. If Gronkowski and Wright can continue to play off one another, quarterback Tom Brady’s offense will have an element it had lost in the season’s opening month.
The trend should continue against the Buffalo Bills, who have allowed the seventh-most tight end catches per game (5.6) this season.
Wright caught three passes on seam routes up the left side — a 30-yarder, a 17-yard touchdown while absorbing a hard shot, and a 25-yarder when Brady looked for Wright after diagnosing a flaw in the linebackers’ coverage scheme, the story said. Because Brady hasn’t gotten consistent production from anyone other than Gronkowski and Julian Edelman this season, Wright’s ability to take a hit to score will help the cause in the future. Wright is worth an add if you're struggling at the position but this is probably still a bit of a wait-and-see situation. While there seems to be no reason for the Pats to go away from two TEs and Wright, their game plan week-to-week always seems to be opponent-specific.
The New England Patriots didn’t consistently use both tight ends together, but the results were amazing when they did.
With Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright on the field, Tom Brady was 7-for-11 for 101 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots also ran the ball seven times for 70 yards, which includes a career-long 43-yard dash by Stevan Ridley. On that play, Gronkowski and Wright were stand-up tight ends on opposite sides of the line. Wright sealed the edge with a block on Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall that lasted juuuust long enough for Steven Ridley to turn the corner.
The Pats seemed like they went back to the good old days of two TE sets. With a Brady seemingly struggling to connect with his WRs, two TE formations were productive and may be something we see more of to keep the Pats offense rolling like it did vs. Cincy. The story pointed out that the stats on "GronkWright" saw them play together on 18 of the 82 snaps (21.9 percent), but those plays accounted for 33.8 percent of New England’s yardage.
Friday, October 3, 2014, 6:19pm
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 5. Gronkowski was “full” all week for the first time this season. The Patriots may be ready to unleash him on the Bengals in an important game after the thrashing they took against the Chiefs in Week 4.
Thursday, October 2, 2014, 6:31pm
- Page 1