The Patriots know that when it comes to a Rob Gronkowski suspension, things are out of their hands.
"Anything that is out of our control," Bill Belichick said on Monday morning before Gronkowski's one-game ban was announced, "such as injuries that could go down to pregame workouts and so forth . . . Things that are out of our control are out of our control. We’ll address the things that we can address."
If the Patriots are forced to go without Gronkowski -- he's appealing the suspension -- they'll be down their most dynamic offensive weapon. But his absence is something that they've obviously dealt with in the past, and as recently as Week 5 in Tampa Bay.
Gronkowski was a late scratch from that game with a leg injury, and the Patriots eventually edged the Bucs, 19-14, with their All-Pro tight end watching from the sidelines. Tom Brady threw the ball 40 times, relying on receivers Chris Hogan (11 targets), Brandin Cooks (eight), Danny Amendola (eight) and running back James White (nine). Only one tight end, Jacob Hollister, saw a pass sent his way.
Dwayne Allen, who did not see target in the four games leading up to the Week 9 bye, could factor into the Patriots passing game more significantly if Gronkowski is out. Allen's seen seven throws in four games since the Week 9 bye, catching five for 40 yards.
In all likelihood, though, Patriots receivers and backs will have to split the majority of the passes that would normally go Gronkowski's way if he sits. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could also rely on their running game, led by Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, which has been highly efficient of late.
Regardless of Gronkowski's fate, Allen should continue to see significant work as a blocker, where the Patriots have been very pleased with his progress.
"Dwayne’s had a very solid role for us all year long. He’s played a lot of football, and I’m sure he’ll continue to play a lot of football for us," Belichick said. "Dwayne works hard. He does what we ask him to do. He tries his best to do it the way that we ask him to do it. Some things are different than the way he was taught to do them in the past, but he’s been very open and receptive to trying to do what the team needs him to do on any particular play or situation or technique or whatever it happens to be. So, he’s been a great guy to have on the team. He’s got a great attitude, he’s willing to do anything that we’ve asked him to do to help the football team, and you can’t ask for any more than that."