With the Bucs down four of their top six receivers, many thought a big game was coming from Rob Gronkowski against the Panthers. But the Bucs star tight end was only targeted twice, catching one pass for 23 yards. The other throw, a dime from Tom Brady in the back corner of the end zone, was dropped. That’s becoming a bit of a habit from Gronkowski over the past two weeks.
“Just number of opportunities,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said on Bucs Total Access this week. “He’s uncharacteristically dropped a couple balls. I thought he had a touchdown in this game. But it didn’t happen.”
When healthy, Gronkowski has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL this season. The 11-year vet has 41 catches for 550 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. But over the past two games, Gronkowski has gone quiet. He drew 11 targets against the Saints, but managed just two catches for 29 yards. The former All-Pro tight end dropped three passes in Week 15. Gronkowski also had a couple other catchable opportunities fall incomplete.
Against the Panthers, Gronkowski just wasn’t featured that much. He spent five reps in pass protection, his most since Week 3. Unfortunately, he also had Brady’s best pass of the day go right through his hands on a would-be touchdown. The Bucs would settle for a field goal instead.
“Yeah, we dropped one. ‘Gronk’ (Rob Gronkowski) 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.”
Despite Gronkowski’s recent struggles, this seems more like the exception rather than the rule. Four drops in two games is a bump in the road for a player with Gronk’s history. If the Bucs can get him back on track and get Mike Evans back on the field, their offense will be formidable once again.
You can listen to the excellent entirety of Bucs Total Access right here.