While the Patriots have been highly successful up until this point in the 2019 season, it hasn’t been the result of a lethal passing attack. Even with Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots’ offense has been stagnant and mediocre, to say the least. If not for their excellent defense, the conversation for this team would be in a completely different context. There is some hope, though. It is rumored that former Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski is mulling his return. If this does, in fact, happen, what are the immediate implications?
Yes, Julian Edleman and a host of lesser-known receivers are on the Patriots’ roster, but they don’t provide the deep threat that Gronkowski gives an offense. Currently, Tom Brady is throwing midrange routes and quick slants. The addition of Gronkowski would change that narrative and bring back the potential of deep post or seam routes.
With Tom Brady throwing short and underneath passes, defenses have no reason to spread out their personnel. This in turn affects the effectiveness of the running game, as teams are learning to stack the box with most of their linebackers and some defensive backs. Having Gronkowski back on the roster would require attention to his position on the field and susequently, a more spread out defensive unit. A direct beneficiary would be the running game, as there would be more space at the first level to obtain yards.
It’s no secret that when Gronkowski left the Patriots organization, he left in style, as the Patriots’ leader in touchdown catches. With the Tom Brady and the offense struggling to score points, they have had to rely on the defense to keep the scores low in order to win. Up until this point, it has been an effective strategy. However, there will come a time when they will need to get into a shootout. Gronkowski’s presence would greatly assist in this process, as he is undeniably a touchdown scoring threat.