Following the Patriots sixth Super Bowl win this past February, the talk instantly began about Rob Gronkowski’s future in the NFL. As we all know, a few weeks after the victory, he made an Instagram post explaining his retirement. Since then, there have been a plethora of rumors about his return, and he himself has even alluded to it a few teams. In fact, just this past week, he made it clear that a big announcement was coming, and of course, we all thought that it could perhaps be that he was coming back for the remainder of the season. Instead, he announced that while he will be attending the Super Bowl, he will just be hosting a big beach party in Miami.
With Gronk officially out of the picture for the 2019-2020 season, the Patriots will be forced to roll with what they already have going forward. Sure, they are 9-1 so far this year without him and sit atop of the AFC. With that said, Tom Brady has made it crystal clear that he is unhappy with the way that the offense has been functioning. They often cannot get into a rhythm, sometimes struggle to move the ball down the field, and sometimes even get tackled in the back field. Outside of week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England’s offense just has not looked the way it normally has in years past.
Some would argue that this is a personnel problem; no Gronkowski, no more Antonio Brown, and a weak offensive line. Others would say that it is Brady’s unwillingness to work with young guys such as Jakobi Meyers and N’keal Harry. I would say it is a bit of a mixture of both, but would also say that at this point of the year, it is hard to be complaining about personnel. They have gotten this far with what they have, so there really is no excuse for why the offense has been so stagnant.
A huge factor that should improve both the passing game and the running game is the return of Isaiah Wynn. The left tackle will be a huge upgrade over Marshall Newhouse, and really should open a ton of things up on the field. Brady has been rushed all year long, forcing him to get the ball out quickly, and often has caused him just throw it at the legs of receivers. With a formidable left tackle, he should have more time to remain in the pocket, and wait until he finds an open receiver. If Wynn can just be an average blocker, the passing game could completely turn around.
Much of the Patriots success just a season ago was due to their strong running game. Week after week they would pound the ball down the field, which also opened up defenses to allow Brady to pass. Running was their identity last year, but now they have been virtually unable to gain yards on the ground. With a stronger offensive line, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead could really get things going in the coming weeks.
As Muhammed Sanu, Harry, and Meyers all continue working their way into the picture, we truly could see an offense that gets back to its usual pace. Not to mention the fact that Phillip Dorsett is healthy again and should be returning to being a key part of the passing attack. Unfortunately, we are not going to get to see Rob Gronkowski in 2019-2020, but New England should be able to figure things out without him sooner rather than later.