Patriots

These stats prove just how much the Patriots are missing Rob Gronkowski

These stats prove just how much the Patriots are missing Rob Gronkowski

The New England Patriots' passing attack hasn't been as strong this season as it has been in seasons past. And safe to say, part of that is due to the retirement of Rob Gronkowski.

The long-time Patriots tight end called it quits during the 2019 offseason after a nine-year NFL career. While some have been hopeful that Gronk would return, it seems that he is happy to remain retired at this point in time. And that's bad news for the Patriots.

So far during the 2019 campaign, the Patriots have gotten next to no production from their tight ends. Just how bad has it been? The "Boston Sports Info" Twitter account took a deep dive into the Patriots' tight end numbers since Gronkowski was drafted in 2010, and the Patriots' numbers so far in '19 are their worst over the course of the past 10 years.

The Patriots have gotten just 18 catches for 242 yards and one touchdown out of the tight end position through nine games. All of those numbers are worst (or tied for worst) among the team's totals through nine games since 2010.

Comparatively, other seasons over the last decade have routinely seen the squad record double-digit touchdowns, and there were two occasions (2011 and 2016) that saw the position total over 1,000 yards.

As for the second-worst nine-game start at the tight end position, that came in 2013. At that time, the team had just 29 catches for 397 yards and two touchdowns. However, Gronkowski had only played in three games at that point. And excluding his numbers, the skeleton crew of Matthew Mulligan, Zach Sudfeld, and Michael Hoomanawanui combined for just 10 catches, 113 yards, and a score.

So, it's safe to say that the tight end position has lived and died with Gronk over the course of the past decade. Thus, it's no surprise to see the team struggling to produce without him.

If the Patriots want to get some production out of the tight end position, they're going to need to see one of Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, or Ryan Izzo step up. So far, none has generated much of a rapport with Tom Brady. But with the team lacking pass-catching options in general, perhaps this group will find a way to rebound after a poor start to the season.

If not, the position group will continue to be one of the team's biggest on the offensive side of the ball.

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Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

The Patriots have downgraded safety Patrick Chung and running back Damien Harris from questionable to out for the game Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Chung has had heel and chest injuries but did play in the Pats' last game before their bye week, the Nov. 3 loss to the Ravens. Harris appeared on the injury report for the first time on Friday with a hamstring issue. The rookie third-round pick from Alabama has only been active for two games this season.

The loss of Chung could impact the Patriots most in their coverage of Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Taking on tight ends is something Chung has excelled at. 

ESPN Mike Reiss reports that Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse, out with a knee injury since Oct. 10, did travel with the team to Philly so he will likely be active for the game.

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Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

It was one of the most controversial calls in Patriots history...and it didn't come from an official.

It was Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 in the final minutes against the Indianapolis Colts. And it was 10 years ago today.

THE DECISION

It remains Belichick's most talked-about moves this side of Malcolm Butler. In a Week 10 matchup in Indianapolis, the 8-0 Colts faced the 6-2 Patriots in a high-scoring affair. Leading 34-28 but backed up at their own 28-yard-line and needing two yards for a first down, Belichick chose to go for it on fourth down and try and keep the ball out of quarterback Peyton Manning's hands.

THE PLAY

Tom Brady completed a pass to running back Kevin Faulk, who was driven backward by the Colts' Melvin Bullitt. After a measurement, Faulk was ruled short of the first down. Three Colts plays later, a Manning-to-Reggie Wayne TD pass and extra point with 13 seconds left a 35-34 victory.

THE AFTERMATH

There was plenty of second-guessing of Belichick's move. Had he outsmarted himself? Why didn't he punt and show more faith in his defense? 

“We thought we could win the game with that play,” he explained at the time. “That was a yard I was confident we could get.” Belichick had maintained it was more like fourth-and-long-1, rather than 2. Where the ball was spotted after the Faulk play is still the subject of debate.

Those Pats would go on to lose two of their next three, finish 10-6, still win the AFC East but get smoked by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in Foxboro in a wild-card playoff game. Manning's team won its first 14 games, then rested its regulars and lost twice before reaching its first Super Bowl as the Indy Colts and losing to the New Orleans Saints. 

TODAY

When Indianapolis reporter Kevin Bowen tweeted about the play's 10th anniversary on Saturday, it stirred up memories for former Colts linebacker Gary Brackens, who recalled the disrespect he felt from Belichick's decision to test the Indy defense. 

To this day, "Fourth-and-2" means only one thing to most NFL fans.

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