In case you haven’t heard by now, the Jets are catching a big break Thursday night. Rob Gronkowski, star tight end of the Patriots, will not play on Thursday night after breaking his arm on the last extra point of Sunday’s game against the Colts. The Patriots are hopeful that Gronk will be available when the postseason begins. As Aaron Hernandez has not been at full strength in some time, this is a huge break for the Jets on Thursday. You might wonder why it is so huge. “Brady is the best, he’ll just use his other weapons.” Make no mistake about it, this is more than a loss for the Patriots, it is a huge loss for them.
Look back at the first game these two teams played in 2012, the game that the Patriots won 29-26 in OT. Guess who led his team in receiving? With 6 catches for 78 yards and 2 TDs, it was Rob Gronkowski. Go back to the game before that, in 2011, when the Patriots beat the Jets at MetLife by a score of 37-16. Again, Gronk led in receiving with 8 catches, 113 yards, and 2 TDs. That makes Rob Gronkowski’s average stats in the last 2 meetings with the Jets: 7 catches, 95.5 yards, and 2 TDs. That, my friends, is a huge impact for any receiver, much less a tight end.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the team. Does anyone recall how I have said that stopping the guys down the middle is the most important thing for the Jets in order to beat New England, because their outside receivers aren’t scary? Well, take a look at the Patriots receiving statistics without Gronkowski:
Wes Welker: 78 Rec, 890 Yds, 2 Tds
Brandon Lloyd: 46 Rec, 525 Yds, 3 Tds
Danny Woodhead: 23 Rec, 246 Yds, 2 Tds
Julian Edelman: 18 Rec, 158 Yds, 2 Tds
Aaron Hernandez: 17 Rec, 143 Yds, 2 Tds
We stop there because, no matter what we think of this team, those are the only receivers with over 100 yards of receiving on the season. Seriously. So, you have Welker, who is obvious their number one target, but after that…..what do you have? Brandon Lloyd is basically a wash with Jeremy Kerley, as he only has recorded 10 more yards and one more TD. Move on down the list, and Danny Woodhead is next, who hasn’t even outgained the injured Santonio Holmes yet. After Woodhead, you have Edelman, who Keller has out-gained 220 to 158. And next, Chaz Schilens has out-gained Aaron Hernandez by 7 yards.
Without Gronk, where is the scary weapon? Obviously it’s Welker, but after that, who really scares you? Brandon Lloyd? I am not so sure. If you can take out Welker with Cromartie, there will be two keys, stopping Brandon Lloyd and stopping the improved running attack of New England. But, it seems much more like a feasible task.
It’s possible. The loss of Gronkowski is huge. The Jets have a decent shot to win because of it.