FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots held their training camp in late July and into August, it was often noted that quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and cornerback Darrelle Revis would work together on one practice field, usually during full-club special teams work.
Brady reflected on that work Wednesday when asked about the impact Gronkowski has had on the offense. What the Patriots were focusing on was Gronkowski's body position against excellent coverage players.
"We did a lot of work in training camp when Darrelle was covering him and Gronk was trying to do some rehabilitation and stuff like that; he just gets great body position and I think that's such a big part of it because he's such a big guy [6-6, 265]. It's hard to go through him. If he can get himself in the right position, and get the defender where he wants him in the right place on the route, the defender can't do anything about it," Brady said.
"They know that too, so I think they panic. When they panic, it's even more of an advantage to the offense. It's like sometimes when you get a bigger receiver on the perimeter and a smaller DB is matched up on him, the mindset of the DB might even change because they think, 'Oh my God, this guy is so much bigger and taller and stronger; what am I going to do?' They're already beat sometimes before the ball is snapped. So that's a good mindset for an offensive player. When he's making those plays and the defenders are defensive before the ball is even snapped -- not only are they at a physical disadvantage but they're at a mental disadvantage."
Brady compared it to his viewpoint as a quarterback and how he might not throw at a cornerback because of his top-notch skill-set (e.g. Revis).
So that's the type of impact Gronkowski is having, which is evident when the ball is thrown to him or others.
"He has great physical ability and I think he understands the game so much more now than he has in the past," Brady said. "He's just tough to stop. If they use extra guys to stop him, it really gives other guys opportunity -- maybe more opportunity than they would typically get. When Gronk does well, it really benefits all the other pass-catchers, too."