Rob Gronkowski entered Week 3 on a 3-game hot streak going back to Super Bowl LV. Over those games, Gronkowski tallied 18 receptions for 196 yards and six touchdowns. However, the All-Pro didn’t fare as well on Sunday, during the Rams 34-24 victory over the Bucs.

The loss wasn’t on Gronkowski. In fact, while Bucs fans (rightfully) expect their team to score more than 24 points every game, this was, in my opinion, an overwhelmingly positive game for the offense (more on that later this week). This made Gronkowski’s struggles stick out even more.

With the score tied at zero, the Buccaneers faced a pivotal moment in the first quarter on third-and-5. The Rams showed man coverage pre-snap with a single-high safety. Tom Brady knew Gronkowski’s corner route would be his best option against this defense and that there’d be open space away from the safety. While under pressure in the pocket, Brady anticipated the pass perfectly and began his throwing motion before Gronkowski even made his cut. Gronkowski dropped the accurately placed ball.

With less than a minute to go in the second quarter, and the Rams up 14-7, Brady connected with Chris Godwin for a big gain off of Bruce Arians’ Tier concept. The play was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty from Gronkowski. In fairness to Gronkowski, this was an extremely questionable call.

Later in the possession, Gronkowski drew an impossible matchup. The Bucs left him one-on-one against Aaron Donald in pass protection off the edge. It’s unclear why the pass protection was set in a way that would leave Donald against a single blocker, especially when that blocker is a tight end. Donald easily rushed by Gronkowski and caused a sack-fumble for a loss of six yards. The drive ended with Ryan Succop missing wide right on a 55-yard field goal attempt.

Down 31-17 with a goal-to-go late in the third quarter, the Bucs had an opportunity to get back in the game. Brady recognized the Rams’ Cover 1 Hole defense. Against the strong coverage, Brady put the ball perfectly on the outside where only Gronkowski could make a play. However, as Jon Ledyard pointed out during the Pewter Report Gameday livestream, Gronkowski mistimed his jump and failed to pull in the would-be touchdown. The drive ended with a short field goal.

The Buccaneers came out with a 1×3 formation (1×3, as opposed to 3×1, denotes that a tight end is the isolated player) on first-and-ten midway through the fourth quarter. Brady recognized that Gronkowski was one-on-one and threw to the fade route against press coverage. Again though, Gronkowski’s timing was off, and he slowed down while the ball was in the air. The 32-year old tight end was grabbed by the defensive back, but should finish stronger through contact.

This was a rare game with several miscues from the future Hall of Famer. The encouraging part is, despite the mistakes, Gronkowski looked good physically and athletically. In fact, he created separation against faster, smaller cornerbacks multiple times. The vast majority of the time, Gronkowski will finish most of these plays. But on Sunday, the fact that he didn’t was a major contributor to the Bucs’ loss.

Gronkowski will look to bounce back when he returns to New England to face the Patriots next Sunday night.

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About the Author: Paul Atwal

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4 months ago

No, that pass was not dropped. It wasn’t caught. It was obviously not placed well – heck the photo that you published here shows Gronk stretching for all he was worth trying to catch a virtually uncatchable ball. And why even bring up the OPI call when it was obvious to everybody that it was a stupid call? Blaming Gronk is just dumb. There is always a host of characters who contribute to every win and to every loss. In this particular game, the least well performing players were the defensive front seven who managed to get only a single… Read more »

4 months ago

I don’t agree with this hypercritical assessment of Gronk at all. Firstly, the pass on 3rd down in the opening quarter was not ‘dropped’ per se, it was just not caught, but further examination of the tape shows that TB 12 was under real pressure as he threw and the throw was simply not ‘on the money’, barely grazing Gronk’s fingertips at full stretch. The offensive pass interference call was complete and utter BS, as alluded to, which should therefore be totally discounted. As for putting even Gronk, who is an excellent blocker, 1 on 1 with Aaron Donald, the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by compewterpirate
Reply to  compewterpirate
4 months ago

I concur.

Pete Wood
4 months ago

Cut Gronk some slack. The man is nothing but consistent. He came out of retirement to make sure the Bucs won a Super Bowl. Make no mistake, they wouldn’t have won without him.
The Bucs are going to be just fine. They have some issues, but a rare average day for Gronk is not one of them. He’ll be back. The Bucs will bounce back and finish the season with home field advantage

4 months ago

You are way off here. if you want to isolate the main reason this team lost put your magniifying glass on the defensive line.

Reply to  drdneast
3 months ago

The fact you said that shows your clueless. Do you know how many screens they ran? Every team especially Dallas and Rams threw crazy amount screens. Our secondary and sometimes others don’t get penetration or come off blocks to stop it. You throw tons screens because a team has a good pass rush. Not because you have time for 5-7 step drops moron. Yes The pass rush wasn’t great. It hasn’t been great in terms of sacks this year. It wasn’t nearly as bad though as the secondary play with guys wide open and the lack of communication. Kupp caught… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by fredster
3 months ago

Way too much focus on the Offense. Brate and Howard did come in and did help some. It was the Defensive issues which cost us the game. Also not must to say about Special Teams too.

3 months ago

So many bad things to focus on gronks play isn’t even on the list

3 months ago

He looked like he was in real pain at one point and was not the same afterwards. Hope he can heal up fine for the NE game

3 months ago

So the only play is the sacc fumble. smh Gronk WAS NOT left 1 on 1 with A. Donald. It’s a double team. To account for Donald’s first step his height as leverage uses his speed to wall off the out. T. Brady then steps in the poccet when Donald tries a counter bacc inside is me by Smith. Effectively neutralizing him. The play works to perfection except his spot he’s supposed to step into is occupied by Cappa because got pushed back buy a Rams LB 50-60lbs lighter than him. That was the only bad about that play. So… Read more »

Reply to  DMIbucs98
3 months ago

There’s more I can articulate but that’s to anyone and everyone harping on these coaching about schemes and play calling when they can’t even comprehend a simple protection scheme on their television. Let alone no the teams personal, opponents scout cards and everything else. SHUT AND WATCH THE GAME!! coach from your chair wouldn’t even win your local youth rec team.