Every New England Patriots fan is focused on Rob Gronkowski‘s decision to retire or to remain playing football for the Pats. It would be a tough loss for New England if they were unable to bring back the NFL’s best tight end (when healthy) and one of the toughest players to cover
1-on-1. However, there are several reasons that if Gronk does decide to retire, it would not be the end of the world. Patriots fans shouldn’t lose faith in their team if it does happen.
The Patriots With And Without Rob Gronkowski
What if Gronkowski Retires?
The first thing that fans need to remember is that wide receiver Julian Edelman will be back from his ACL injury that he suffered in preseason last year against the Detroit Lions. Edelman has been a reliable and favorite target for quarterback Tom Brady, especially on third down.
In 2016, Edelman had 98 receptions for 1106 yards with three touchdowns. In that postseason, the Patriots’ wide receiver caught 21 passes for 342 yards and one touchdown on the way to a Super Bowl ring.
Filling Gronk’s Shoes
If Gronkowski decides to retire that would leave a big hole at the TE position. However, Martellus Bennett has stated he wants to continue playing despite contemplating retirement during the 2017 season. The Patriots are supposedly on his short list of teams he wants to play for.
Bennett returned to the Patriots to play two games last season before being shut down with shoulder and hamstring injuries. If the Patriots can retain Bennett that would fill a major role in the New England offense.
Bennett played a full season for the Patriots in 2016, catching 55 passes for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. These numbers came playing behind Gronkowski for half of the season until Gronk missed eight games and had back surgery.
If Gronk does retire and Bennett resigns with the Patriots, he would be the primary TE. He’s also familiar and comfortable with the Patriots offense and coordinator Josh McDaniels.
You Need A Good QB
Of course, none of these receivers are putting up such numbers without a successful quarterback. Luckily the Patriots have that in Brady. In his 18th season, Brady completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,577 yards including 32 touchdown passes to only eight interceptions. Brady led the NFL in passing yards and was the regular season MVP.
All those numbers, of course, came without Edelman on the field. If Brady can maintain a core receiving crew, the Pats will be in good shape. With Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks at WR and Bennett at TE, the Patriots offense is better than most. The key would be giving Brady a tight end in Bennett if the Patriots cannot keep Gronkowski on the team.
What If Gronk Stays?
If Gronkowski doesn’t retire, the Patriots could still aim to bring back Bennett. Then the Pats can run their very successful dual tight end offense. On top of that, having Edelman and Hogan in the lineup is dangerous.
That offense led New England to a Super Bowl in 2016, even though Gronk missed the remainder of the season. If Gronk and Bennett were both healthy for the entire season, it would be very difficult for defenses to matchup and successfully cover both of the TEs.
Defense Wins Championships
Gronk’s decision will change the look of the 2018 Patriots, but there are ways to remain successful. That being said, this move would not change the defense and that is where the problem sits for the New England Patriots.
They were able to get to the Super Bowl with the “bend but don’t break” mentality. However, it broke in Super Bowl LII when the defense gave up 41 points in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
So yes, the Patriots have to worry about what Gronk will do. They have to figure out plans to fill his stats if he does go. On the other hand, defense should be the priority to avoid “breaking” like they did in the Super Bowl.