Big Decision: How to use Gronkowski?

September, 29, 2012
9/29/12
2:00
PM ET
The day before each game this season, this space will feature one big decision facing Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his staff, in terms of the game-plan.

This week's decision: Should the Patriots get tight end Rob Gronkowski involved more in the passing game?

BillsPatriotsIn last week's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Gronkowski was targeted only three times, and after the game quarterback Tom Brady admitted that he needs to get Gronkowski more involved in the offense.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels later explained that Baltimore's defense gave receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd more opportunities than Gronkowski.

The Patriots scored 30 points in that game, so it would be a stretch to say that Gronkowski's limited opportunities in the passing game had a significant impact on the offense's production.

However, over the long haul, the Patriots will probably look to get Gronkowski more involved. That could start Sunday if Gronkowski is cleared to play, with tight end Aaron Hernandez and receiver Julian Edelman already ruled out. Gronkowski has seven touchdowns in four career games against the Bills, and their top safeties -- Jairus Byrd, George Wilson and Bryan Scott -- have sometimes struggled to contain Gronkowski in the past.

But what will the Patriots be risking in pass protection if they send Gronkowski out on more routes? The Bills have a three-pronged outside pass rush of Mario Williams, Mark Anderson and Chris Kelsay. Will left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer be able to hold their own against that group, with perhaps tight ends Daniel Fells or Michael Hoomanawanui brought on to help?

What do you think? Should the Patriots keep Gronkowski in as a blocker to protect Brady, or use him more in the passing attack? Join the discussion in the comments section below.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?