Devastating news for the Patriots as Rob Gronkowski’s herniated disk will likely end the all-pro tight end’s season. The team and Gronkowski confirmed the news in a statement yesterday, with Gronk headed for surgery today in Los Angeles — New England’s star dealing with a bruised lung, herniated disc and impinged nerve.
And now the Patriots — a team that looked like the Super Bowl favorite — is without its most dangerous offensive weapon. And the loss of Gronk does more than rob the team of their best receiving threat, it impacts tom Brady’s ability to effectively lead this offense.
Brady’s a different quarterback when he’s got Gronk in the lineup. With him, he completes 65.3% of his throws. Without him, he’s completing just 57.3. With him, he’s got a 5-1 td-int ratio, without him that number’s essentially cut in half. With him, he’s Tom freaking Brady. Without him – he’s Brock bleeping Osweiler. All right, he’s not that bad. Pretty much no one is but you seem me working.
Sure, Pats still have Marty Bennett… and I’m not going to say the loss of Gronk suddenly makes the Pats the Jets. Although they did recently have all sorts of trouble beating the Jets.
You do have to wonder where this leaves Gronk. He’s 27. This is either his 8th or 9th surgery depending on reports, since 2009. The same guy who missed the better part of 2 of the three seasons he played in college at Arizona, a major reason why he slid out of the 1st round to begin with. He’s had major work done on his forearm. His knee. Now his third back surgery, third! And Gronk will have missed 24 regular season games since 2011. He’s the most dominant tight end ever when he’s on the field. But he just can’t stay on the field.
So the question isn’t whether he can make it back in time for the Super Bowl, it’s whether they can make a Super Bowl run without him.
And when he does come back, most likely next season, will he still be the dominant force he’s been? And how long before he’s on the rack again? You look at him and it’s hard to imagine, a bigger, stronger, most skilled athlete, ever. He looks indestructible. But we know just the opposite to be true. And if he can’t stay on the field, then what does the Hood do about it. Hard to imagine the hood ripping Tommy B’s favorite and most valuable target from him, but how many times has Belichick broken off vets a moment early as opposed to holding on them a minute or two, too long? How many times? Every time.
They’ve run franchise type players out before and they’ll do it again. Not saying that will happen here. But I am saying, he and they are cold-blooded, and big Gronk is going under the knife for a third time. On his back! So it could happen to Gronk. It can happen to any of them except Brady. And with this injury, the AFC is wide open.