The news of Rob Gronkowski’s third trip to season-ending Injured Reserve has caused quite a stir within Patriot Nation, and to a lesser extent the entire league. While the news has elicited some experts to declare the AFC suddenly wide open, other analysts have gone the opposite direction, choosing to not sound the alarm quite yet, keeping faith in the greatest quarterback-coach tandem in the NFL’s history to overcome the loss of arguable their most important player (save for TB12).
The Patriots win-loss record without Gronkowski is not great; they are just 14-5 without him in the regular season, and 1-2 in the postseason, which certainly supports the belief that the Patriots cannot win the Super Bowl without Gronkowski. Adding to this narrative is Brady’s statistics with and without the prolific tight end. With a healthy Gronkowski, Brady’s completion percentage is 65.3%, with a 7.9 yards per attempt average and a 103.5 passer rating. However, with Gronkowski sidelined, Brady’s completion percentage dips to 57.3%, while averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt.
The most alarming measure is his passer rating; it dips over twenty points to just 82.4, which would rank 34th in the NFL this season, behind fellow Patriot quarterback Jacoby Brissett (83.9) and only one spot above Geno Smith. Effectively, Tom Brady turns into a third-string quarterback when Gronkowski is unable to play.