EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - There are numerous strategies you can deploy to defend Rob Gronkowski, problem is none of them really work.
Can you press Gronkowski at the line?
"You must not have been watching film (laughter)," Todd Bowles said half-joking. "Many have tried. (You've) just got to play ball."
And there in lies the rub with any strategy for stopping Gronkowski. Teams have tried everything and sure certain strategies can work on any given play but on any given play Gronkowski can destroy your perfect plan. Gronkowski is barely human, he's a freak of nature. To be that size, that fast with such good hands defies the laws of nature. Gronkowski gets compared to a caveman for his size and personality but the reality is he is further along, from a physical stand point, in the evolutionary process then rest of us puny humans.
Because of this, there is no one way to stop Gronkowski. You can try to jam him, but he's bigger and stronger than your cornerbacks. You can try to use linebackers and safeties but he's faster than them, and oh yeah he's bigger and stronger than them too. You can get lucky enough to have him completely covered but he's hands are so strong he will probably make the catch anyway. The only thing you can do is mix up your coverages so Tom Brady doesn't know exactly what your doing and how to beat it.
Calvin Pryor has assumed a lot of the duties of covering tight ends this year and he has done an excellent job, but he won't be tasked with covering Gronkowski alone, Todd Bowles isn't that foolish.
"I've seen the best cover Gronkowski and they couldn't cover him," Bowles said. "It doesn't matter, we've got to mix it up and we've got to play our game. It's not about Calvin and (Gronkowski), it's about us trying to beat them."
With both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola out for the Patriots you can expect to see the Patriots go to multiple tight end sets often and there's a good chance you see them send Gronkowski out wide as a receiver. The Patriots know the Jets will try to mix up the coverage on Gronkowski so naturally Bill Belichick will mix up the ways they use Gronkowski.
"You got to have different game plans when you go against him," Pryor said. "You know, he's so big and physical and he's able to get off the jam quite easily when somebody tries to jam him because he's so strong. (You) just have to switch it up on him."
Will the mixing and matching of game plans work?
"We'll have to see Sunday," Pryor said with a big smile draped across his face.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)