When Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was only a matter of time for Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement. Not only is Gronkowski one of Brady’s favorite targets, but he’s also one of his closest friends. Many thought it could turn into a feast or famine scenario for the Buccaneers offense; so far through two games that hasn’t been the case.
Gronk carries a cap hit of $9.25 million which is a lot for a position that already featured O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. It seems like outside of pleasing Brady, this was a rather redundant move to bring in the future hall of fame tight end. If you look deeper into Gronkowski’s number through the season, he could be the ultimate distraction.
Going into this season, the glaring hole for this Buccaneers team was the offensive line. What better way to disguise that than by sending one of the greatest tight ends of all time out on routes – and not targeting him – along with two of the NFL’s top 10 receivers? You’ve got two dual threat backs in Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones plus LeSean McCoy. Brady picked apart the Carolina Panthers defense, minus the receiver drops on Sunday, his game was near perfect.
Through two games this season, Gronkowski has been on the field for 73% of the Bucs offensive snaps. Brady has only thrown the ball his way four times, but it’s Gronk, and you have to account or him as a defensive coordinator. Mike Evans was hobbled in the first game with a hamstring, and Chris Godwin missed last weeks game in the concussion protocol; the Buccaneers have yet to play with a full strength receiving corps. With injuries at the receiver positions, you’d assume that Brady would look at his most familiar target more often.
Look at the shiny ball
The Buccaneers travel to Denver on Sunday and play with Broncos, fully healthy. For the first time this season, the “pick your poision” offense comes to fruition. Bruce Arians commented, after the game, saying that “we aren’t throwing the ball to the tight end 50 times a game.” Will Gronkowski be featured differently, or will he continue to be the Buccaneers “shiny ball” for defenses?