Rob Gronkowski off to slow start with Buccaneers, but Bruce Arians credits tight end’s run blocking

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There’s been a lot of attention paid to how Tom Brady is meshing with the Buccaneers as he goes through his first season in Tampa, but it’s been relatively quiet — both on and off the field — for the other Patriot that made his way down south this offseason — Mr. Rob Gronkowski. While there was a ton of promise heading into his first season with the Bucs after spending all of last year in retirement, the veteran tight end has been off to a slow start with Tampa Bay. 

Through two games, Gronkowski has looked a step slower from when we last saw him on the field and has only totaled just two receptions on four targets for 11 yards. In Sunday’s win over the Panthers where the Bucs were without star receiver Chris Godwin, Gronkowski was targeted just once and came away with zero catches while playing 69% of the offensive snaps. 

“Not really,” said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians when asked on Monday if he is surprised with Gronk’s lack of production. “He got a nice pass interference call for us [and we] missed him on the over route. We’re not throwing the ball 50 times to tight ends – that’s what we have receivers for [and] that’s the way our offense is built. Gronk’s playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I’m not concerned with his pass catches or his targets.” 

Arians also doesn’t believe that teams are scheming to specifically shut Gronkowski down. The ball simply isn’t going his way. 

“I don’t think they’re paying that much attention to him,” he said. “Tom [Brady] has the ball [and] he decides where it’s going, so he’s reading the defenses and he’s taking whatever they’re giving him. We don’t force passes to anybody.”

It is a bit curious that Brady hasn’t seemed to look Gronkowski’s way much throughout their first couple of games in Tampa together. Even with Gronkowski sitting out all of last season in retirement, the two have nearly a decade of experience with one another that simply hasn’t been on display with the Buccaneers to this point. Of course, that could be due to Gronkowski still shaking off some rust and Brady still learning the nuances of the Tampa Bay offense. Still, it is noteworthy that Gronkowski hasn’t cannonballed his way into Tampa like most originally thought. 

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