Patriots

Gronk Retirement Watch: He'll reportedly take time to think about it after tonight

Gronk Retirement Watch: He'll reportedly take time to think about it after tonight

Last year, Rob Gronkowski seemed somewhat taken aback when, immediately after the Patriots' Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, he was asked if he planned to retire.

"I don't know how you heard about that," the Patriots tight end answered at the time after Mike Florio of NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk had reported hours before the Super Bowl 52 loss in Minneapolis of a possible retirement.

Gronk retirement talk was a big part of this run-up to this Super Bowl, too - see here and here - and now Florio reports that Gronk will not announce any decision in the aftermath of the game tonight and "likely will spend some time considering his options after the season officially ends."

Florio further reports that how Gronk, who turns 30 in May, emerges healthwise from the game and Tom Brady actually returning next season as he has promised will also be key factors in the tight end's decision on playing again after tonight.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the ankle injury that had Gronk listed on the injury report earlier this season was actually Achilles tendonitis and the back ailment that he'd also been listed with was a bulging disc. 

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Patriots defense must beat Cowboys QB Dak Prescott in this area of the field

Patriots defense must beat Cowboys QB Dak Prescott in this area of the field

One of the key matchups in Sunday's Week 12 game between the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys will be passes outside the numbers.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has shredded defenses on throws outside the numbers in 2019. The Patriots are the best team in the league at defending these passes.

NFL Research tweeted a few interesting stats Tuesday that highlight the importance of this matchup:

Prescott is playing at an MVP-level this season, and he's performed at a particularly high level over the last three weeks with 1,202 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions over that span. The Cowboys' success, in a lot of ways, rests on his shoulders.

The Patriots will be Prescott's toughest test of the year so far. Here's where New England's pass defense ranks in several statistical categories:

TD allowed 4 (1st)
Yards allowed/game: 152.6 (2nd)
Interceptions: 19 (1st)
Sacks: 37 (2nd)
Yards/Attempt: 5.3 (1st)
QB Cmp %: 53.6 (1st)
QB rating: 49.2 (1st)

The Cowboys are in a tight race with the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East title, and they enter Sunday's matchup at Gillette Stadium with a slim 1-game lead over their division rivals. It's hard to imagine the Cowboys leaving Foxboro with an upset win if Prescott doesn't play well, so it'll be exciting to watch how he handles going against the league's best pass defense on the road.

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Rob Gronkowski includes cruel joke in his assessment of 2019 Patriots

Rob Gronkowski includes cruel joke in his assessment of 2019 Patriots

Rob Gronkowski essentially put the kibosh on a return to the New England Patriots in 2019. But he hasn't closed the book on his former team.

Shortly after revealing his latest "big announcement" -- he's hosting a mega beach bash in Miami on Super Bowl weekend -- the retired tight end told ESPN's Mike Reiss he's open to considering an NFL comeback down the road.

"I wouldn't say 'never coming back,' " Gronkowski told Reiss on Tuesday. "I'm 30 years old. I'm young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it.

"I'm feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man."

The Patriots have gone 9-1 without him this season, but as Tom Brady will tell you, there are major issues to address on offense.

Gronkowski, who has kept a close eye on New England's games this season as a fan and analyst for NFL on FOX, couldn't resist pointing out one way the Patriots could address those issues in his assessment of the 2019 team.

"The defense is just tremendous, the way they're coming together with the veteran leadership they have there, and the skill set they have," Gronkowski told Reiss. 

"With the offense, they're finding ways to make it work like they've always done, putting guys in the right situation to make plays.

"But man, they're missing some guy who is 6-6, 260 [pounds]. They're missing that guy, for sure."

Gronkowski is referencing himself, of course, which is a cruel joke considering just how much the Patriots could benefit from his presence: New England's tight ends have combined for just 23 catches on the season, with 38-year-old Ben Watson accounting for 11 of them.

It sounds like Gronk misses the Patriots, too, even if 30-year-old has enough business and entertainment irons in the fire to keep him occupied through the end of 2019.

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