The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dismantled the Carolina Panthers 32-6 last week.
By and large, the defending champs were firing on all cylinders in that game – except for one.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, despite his girlfriend’s excitement, wasn’t great. He only caught one pass for 23 yards in the affair and once again struggled to pull in the football.
3rd down, goal-to-go, under pressure, tight coverage. Can’t throw it better than this. Gronk gotta squeeze this one. pic.twitter.com/QioKX6vGOY
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) December 29, 2021
During an appearance on Bucs Total Access this week, head coach Bruce Arians kept it real on his woes.
“Just number of opportunities,” Arians said. “He’s uncharacteristically dropped a couple balls. I thought he had a touchdown in this game. But it didn’t happen.”
As far as Arians is concerned, when Gronkowski is targeted in the end zone – he’s got to catch it.
“Yeah, we dropped one,” he continued. “‘Gronk’ has got to catch that ball. The other one, they had good coverage on the one. There wasn’t anything special, we just didn’t convert. We didn’t play very well in the red zone (and) inside the five.”
Over the course of nine seasons with the New England Patriots, when Gronkowski established himself as arguably the tight end GOAT, he posted a 65.6 percent catch rate. This year? A 59.4 percent catch rate. Clearly something is off.
Arians also called Gronkowski out for his drops the prior week.
“Yeah, I’d like to see Gronk catch about four more,” Arians said two weeks ago. “I’m not used to seeing him drop the ball, and we missed a couple down the sideline, but Cam [Brate] had some targets and he was involved heavily. It’s just one of those games where we just did not match their intensity with our offense or our special teams.”
It will be interesting to see how Gronkowski ultimately looks in the playoffs. He is a security blanket for quarterback Tom Brady and his preferred target in games that truly matter.
That’s definitely one way to celebrate your birthday.https://t.co/lNQAfTc1bm
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 30, 2021
So long as he gets it together by the end of the regular season, Gronkowski’s recent drops problem likely won’t be an issue.
If he isn’t able to get it under control, though – the Bucs might be in a bit of trouble this year.