New England Patriots: Atlanta Falcons have a Rob Gronkowski problem

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 15: Tight end Rob Gronkowski
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 15: Tight end Rob Gronkowski /

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski did not play in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, but will play a big role in Sunday night’s matchup. 

Rob Gronkowski could only sit and watch as his team feel down to the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 in Super Bowl LI.  He also witnessed the New England Patriots make a historic comeback to win their fifth championship.

Perhaps, the game would’ve started off differently had a healthy Gronkowski been available.  It is likely that it would’ve been as the dynamic tight end would’ve presented much deeper matchup problems for the Falcons’ defense.

But, let’s not look back at what would’ve been and look forward to what could happen in Week 7 when the teams square off for a Super Bowl LI rematch.

With both teams not playing at the highest of levels, this Sunday night’s game will serve as a litmus test for the two preseason Super Bowl contenders.  Will either team be able to stop the opposing offense?  That will be the question, especially with the Patriots going into the game without cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe.

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On the flip side, the Falcons will have to worry about a component of the Patriots’ offense they didn’t have to prepare for in Super Bowl LI.  That factor is Rob Gronkowski.

With his size, power and athleticism, the Falcons defensive backs and undersized linebackers will be up for a tough task.  Add the fact that Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell injected Gronkowski with a dose of motivation with his proclamation that he can shut down the All-Pro tight end, it could be an interesting night indeed.

"“I feel like at any time, any given time, if I’m not playing my best football, if I’m not taking the coaching points, if I’m not doing the things right out there on the field, then I feel like I could be covered by anyone,” Gronkowski confessed, via the Boston Herald.  “But also at the same time, if I’m doing things right, feeling good, taking the coaching points, then I feel like I can get open on anyone.  It just all comes down to playing the game this coming Sunday night.”"

Twinkle toes

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 15: Tight end Rob Gronkowski
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 15: Tight end Rob Gronkowski /

If the 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end isn’t motivated enough by the challenge presented by De’Vondre Campbell, he has to be super charged up after being given the nickname “twinkle toes” by head coach Bill Belichick.

"“He says I got twinkle toes.  ‘ll take twinkle toes,” Gronkowski said Wednesday, via ESPN.  “I like when I have twinkle toes; that means I’m feeling good.  I’m feeling it.”"

The New England Patriots head coach used “twinkle toes” to describe Gronkowski’s 33-yard touchdown catch against the New York Jets in Week 6.  The big tight end high-stepped into the end zone after distancing himself from two safeties.  The play was reminiscent of the Rob Gronkowski of old.

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With his 26 receptions for 401 yards and four touchdowns so far this season, the Patriots and Bill Belichick hope there is more high stepping all over the field. This Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons make get a heavy dose of those twinkle toes.

You better believe Tom Brady will be looking to get the best of whoever lines up on his big target on the field.