New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is a coverage mismatch, so opponents must take extralegal precautions to defend him.
But, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN, the 6’6″, 265-pounder says he understands why players hold him — and would do the same.
“If I was one of those [defensive backs], and you’ve seen film over the last few years, I would definitely be doing that if I was a DB — 100 percent. You don’t really see it called ever, so I’ve just got to play with it. Play how the game is called. If I was a DB, I’d do that, too.”
Gronkowski towers over many of the players who cover him. In Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, for example, 6’0″ Eric Berry tracked Gronk. And on the touchdown that was ultimately overturned, he drove past 5’11” Terrance Mitchell for the catch attempt.
As the Patriots star suggested, holding is an understandable choice.
Unless the referees start flagging defenders every time — though sometimes it may already feel that way — cornerbacks and safeties should take advantage when covering a bigger player like Gronkowski.
Perhaps he’ll start to get a couple more calls when opponents hold him. And should that happen, then the mission of voicing this complaint was accomplished. But if not, Gronk will continue to return the favor and out-muscle defenders on his routes — and that physicality will go uncalled, too.