The best moments in press conferences come when players and coaches are transparent about what happens behind the scenes during a game. Thanks to Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski, we know exactly how his second touchdown reception from Tom Brady transpired in Week 1.
Before the snap Dallas showed pressure across the board, covering every gap at the line of scrimmage. As a counter Brady adjusted the protection, then realized he had a potential solution at his disposal. By giving Gronkowski the opportunity to check-release at the line of scrimmage, Brady knew he would have a wide open target over the middle if the tight end could sell the block.
The Cowboys sent seven rushers on a Cover Zero blitz, leaving four defensive backs to cover four Buccaneers receivers. That left Gronkowski, who was in-line to protect, with an advantageous matchup if he could release into his route. Gronkowski sold the route with a great set to block, then quickly burst upfield before defensive end Demarcus Lawrence could react. The result was Brady and Gronkowski’s 100th connection for a touchdown.
Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
“I know, I don’t like to give away that play, that’s my favorite play,” Gronkowski said after the game. “Tom made a great call. I think I was actually on a route and then he checked me into blocking, then checked me into blocking and releasing. I was like, ‘oh man’. He just sees it all on the field, it’s impressive.
“He’s been playing for like 80 years, so he’s seen every defense and every player. He has played with so many and has seen so many fronts too. He saw it, he read it well. It’s a play we have scored a couple [touchdowns] on in our career. No more talking about that play, because I like that play and I don’t like anyone knowing about it.”
Brady’s intelligence at the line of scrimmage is second-to-none, but perhaps Gronkowski doesn’t get enough credit for his football IQ. According to Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, the future Hall of Fame tight end’s work ethic and dedication to his craft are huge reasons for his success.
“He really does [know the game well],” Arians said. “And he works his tail off. I mean, he’s here early, he leaves late. He doesn’t leave anything unturned in his preparation. He’s meticulous, just like Tom [Brady]. I think that’s why he’s one of Tom’s favorite players.”
Gronkowski finished the game with eight catches on eight targets for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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