Colts know they can’t stop Gronk, but can slow him down
How do you put a lid on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski?
Well, according to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, you basically try to prevent him from doing too much damage.
“It’s a daunting task no matter who you put on him,” Pagano said. “(If) you have a linebacker that can run, he’s bigger and physical but he may not have the coverage ability because he doesn’t do it that much. Put a safety on him, and he might not have the stature that a linebacker has but runs better and those kind of things.
“You’ve just got to do a good job of mixing things up and making it as difficult as you can, and just try to slow him down if you can.”
Gronkowski is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds. Colts cornerback Vontae Davis is 5-foot-11 and 204 pounds.
“He’s a big guy,” Davis said. “It’s going to take more than just me trying to tackle Gronk.”
Colts Must Stalemate Rob Gronkowski
Of course, that statistic doesn’t really do justice to how he played. The Patriots only threw the ball 30 times because the run game was so dominant in a 42-20 win. Also, Gronkowski treated the Colts’ back seven like a bowling ball treats bumpers on a ridiculous 26-yard touchdown catch that put the game away.
Still, that was about the best the Colts could hope for given the coverage players they had up the middle. A team is fooling itself if it thinks it can shut down someone as physically dominant as Gronkowski. The Colts did an excellent job of limiting him, though, and they did it mostly because they staggered their coverages to keep Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off-balance.
If the elephant in the room is stopping New England’s ground game, then the next step to keeping the Patriots in check is to make sure Gronkowski doesn’t go off. The Colts showed they could do it in Week 11. Can they once again keep him from dominating the ball with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line?