Rob Gronkowski is “Locked in, Ready to Roll”.
“Gronk” seemingly put the fear of another Super Bowl without the big man to rest earlier today, posting a photo on Instagram boasting a confident grin and captioning the picture with ‘Locked In, Ready to roll. Minnesota we here. #superbowl52 #anotherone #minneapolis’. In layman’s terms, Gronkowski has self-proclaimed himself a go for this Sunday in Minnesota.
Gronkowski has been in concussion-protocol since leaving the game against Jacksonville last Sunday after a gory hit to the head from Barry Church that left him sidelined for the remainder of the game, and possibly the Super Bowl. However, since Saturday all signs have been leading towards the news that he would in fact play. That’s the day that Gronkowski came back to the field, in spite of the fact he hadn’t yet been cleared from the concussion protocol. Which leaves an unsettling ache in the stomachs of all Patriots fans, players, and coaches.
There were no major reports; however, implying that Gronkowski would ever not play in the Super Bowl. Thanks in part to the extra week prior to the Super Bowl, this Instagram post easily erases any doubt in my mind that he’ll play. Unfortunately, that leaves the elite ‘Underdogs’ defense with one more, vital, weapon to plan for.
The Eagles defense are below average when it comes to stopping the opposing tight ends. The final numbers against them in 16 regular season games were 111 targets, 73 receptions, 66% completion percentage, 745 yards and 5 touchdowns. All five of these fall in the 16-20 ranking range. With the Eagles being a below-average regular season defense when it comes to tight ends, the real question is “How has Philadelphia has fared against tight ends in the playoffs?”
In their first playoff game — against Atlanta — the Eagles didn’t need to focus on the tight end. Austin Hooper hadn’t been relevant since week one, and this game proved to be the same. Hooper finished with an anemic one catch for three yards.
After beating the Falcons, the Eagles played Minnesota. The Vikings roll out a solidified, top-ten tight end every week in Kyle Rudolph. The Eagles had to make sure they held Rudolph in check. Luckily, Case Keenum did not show up to the game and the Eagles defense swarmed anything in purple. Rudolph was held to just one catch for 25 yards. Nonetheless, that single catch was the lone touchdown for the Vikings.
In a word, the Eagles have done a stand-up job, holding the opposing tight ends in check in January. But one thing’s for sure, Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t fall in January, it falls in February and that’s the time Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots love to eat.