Could Rob Gronkowski’s Back End The Patriots Dynasty?


An NFL Media report says that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to have back surgery and will must a significant amount of time.

Any type of back surgery would certainly be classified as serious and although there’s been no report of anything being career threatening, one would have to explore the possibility of Gronkowski not being the same player when he returns.

Various reports expect Gronk to miss up to eight weeks, and the Super Bowl is exactly nine weeks away.

What will the Patriots be missing without Gronkowski?  

He’s quite possibly the most dominant player in the NFL.  He is on a career arc to become the best player ever at his position and he’s been the main target for Tom Brady.

Without Gronk, the Pats look like a pedestrian offense as they don’t have much speed on the outside to stretch the field.  Teams can press up and force Brady to try to throw over the top of them.

Perhaps the biggest problem the Patriots will have is in the red zone, where they are one of the best teams in football.  Gronkowski must be accounted for with multiple defenders and now there are very few guys New England can put on the field that can beat single coverage.

Which teams benefit the most from this injury? 

Initially, one would think of the Denver Broncos.  Denver has been able to shut down the Patriots with Gronkowski and now it will be extremely difficult for New England to find any offense against that pass rush.

With Trevor Siemian beginning to come into his own, the Broncos offense has been showing signs of life.  They first have to make the postseason, but if they do they will have a great shot to take down the Patriots.

The Oakland Raiders are the next team that should greatly benefit.  Both the Raiders and Patriots are tied at the top of the AFC with identical 9-2 records. After playing the L.A. Rams this Sunday, New England still has games against the first place Baltimore Ravens; on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos; a game at home against the rival New York Jets and they finish the season on the road against the Miami Dolphins.

This could help the Raiders capture the No. 1 seed in the AFC and all playoff roads would lead through Oakland.

The Miami Dolphins now have their best shot to make the postseason since 2008, when they benefitted from Tom Brady missing 15 games.  Even if they don’t make up the two-game deficit, they now have a greater opportunity to beat New England in the season finale.

The Kansas City Chiefs have always been an interesting matchup for the Patriots and with a healthy Justin Houston they can rush the passer.  Without Gronkowski on the field, the Chiefs offense (which closely resembles that of the Patriots) has more playmakers.

It has always been too soon to say this, but the Patriots dynasty could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.  As we wait for Father Time to finally make his visit to the Brady residence, he’s not the same quarterback without Gronkowski.  This is Gronk’s third back surgery and if he does indeed have a disc issue he may never be the same player.

It’s extremely likely that at least one of, if not both of New England’s coordinators (Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia) may leave this offseason for NFL head coaching jobs.  If Gronkowski isn’t the same player and Tom Brady approaching the big 4-0, the Patriots may not have enough time to rebuild the offense before mediocrity sets in.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.