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What's with Gronk's lack of production? Bucs coach explains

/ by Darren Hartwell
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Tom Brady hasn't been spectacular through two games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he's still shown flashes of the quarterback who won six Super Bowl titles with the Patriots.

The tight end he brought with him from New England? That's a different story.

Rob Gronkowski has been a virtual ghost for the Bucs so far, with just two catches for 11 yards on four targets in two games played.

Brady reacts to Bucs' dropped passes in Week 2

Gronkowski was held without a catch Sunday against the Carolina Panthers -- only the fifth time in his 117-game career that's happened -- and the only pass Brady threw his way was intercepted.

That's a surprising development for one of the best tight ends in NFL history, is it not?

“Not really," Bucs head coach Bruce Arians told reporters Monday. "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.”

While Gronkowski has been neutralized in games before, it's usually because the defense loads up to stop him. From Arians' vantage point, that's not happening in 2020 -- Brady simply isn't throwing his tight end the ball.

Where'd ya go, Gronk?

Gronkowski's targets per game in New England (117 games)
7.1
Gronkowski's targets per game in Tampa Bay (2 games)
2

"I don’t think they’re paying that much attention to him," Arians said of Gronkowski. "Tom 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."

 

The Bucs aren't paying Gronkowski $9.25 million this season to be a glorified blocking tight end. But it sounds like the 31-year-old tight end simply isn't getting open, a potential sign he's still has rust to shake off after missing the entire 2019 season.