Ryan Izzo

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 TE Matt LaCosse to out; Shaq Mason, James White travel to Baltimore

Patriots downgrade TE Matt LaCosse to out; Shaq Mason, James White travel to Baltimore

The Patriots have downgraded tight end Matt LaCosse to out with a knee injury for their Sunday night game against the Ravens in Baltimore.

LaCosse had been among several Patriots listed as questionable on the injury report Friday. The team will go with Ben Watson and Ryan Izzo, who was among the questionable as he recovers from a concussion, at tight end.

ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that right guard Shaq Mason (questionable with an ankle injury) and running back (added to the list of questionables on Friday with a toe injury) made the trip to Baltimore.

Earlier Saturday, the Patriots reportedly activated wide receiver N'Keal Harry off injured reserve. 

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NFL Rumors: Could Phillip Dorsett, Ryan Izzo be trade deadline targets?

NFL Rumors: Could Phillip Dorsett, Ryan Izzo be trade deadline targets?

Do the New England Patriots have another surprise move in them ahead of next week's NFL trade deadline?

The Patriots already acquired wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and dealt defensive end Michael Bennett to the Dallas Cowboys. But in his trade deadline preview Thursday, the MMQB's Albert Breer listed two rather surprising Patriots players who may draw interest from other NFL teams.

From Breer:

One rival team’s pro director wondered aloud about teams calling on Philip Dorsett. Presumably, New England’s de facto release of Josh Gordon ... takes care of that. But it does raise the possibility that New England could dip into its roster depth to fill a hole somewhere else in its lineup (like, potentially, along the offensive line.)

It seems unlikely the Patriots would trade Dorsett, who's been one of the few constants at a wide receiver position with plenty of turnover. The 26-year-old is New England's fourth-leading receiver this season with 18 catches and has developed a good rapport with quarterback Tom Brady.

Breer also mentioned a second potential trade piece that's even more of an eye-opener: tight end Ryan Izzo.

Young tight end Ryan Izzo, surprisingly enough, is one name that came up as possible trade fodder on Wednesday.

The Patriots are incredibly thin at tight end, as injuries to Izzo and Matt LaCosse left Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson as the team's only two healthy tight ends in Week 7.

Izzo is set to miss his second consecutive game due to a concussion, though, and if the Patriots don't believe he can be an effective contributor going forward, they may consider moving him to shore up depth in another area.

Breer mentioned offensive line as an area where New England could use help with starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn still on injured reserve. Per Breer, Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai may be on the trade market and is a name to watch.

The Patriots dealing Dorsett or Izzo before Tuesday's deadline would be unexpected, but head coach Bill Belichick has made more unconventional deadline moves.

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