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Monday, 09 December 2013 05:05

New England Patriots Must Carry On Without Rob Gronkowski

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Rob Gronkowski has been a game changer for the New England Patriots since his return from back and forearm injuries. He helped transform an offense that wasn't up to par into the second highest scoring offense since his return. Gronkowski injured his right knee Sunday and it appears from reports that his season is over with a torn ACL.  The injury occurred in the third quarter when Browns safety went for a tackle at the knee of Rob Gronkowski (better than the head right Roger?). After the game Ward said "It was a decision I made just to make a tackle on a big man and unfortunately he got hurt, but if I would've hit up high, there's a chance I would get fined and all that other stuff. I'm just being safe,"  Injuries to the knee are at an all time high this season. Two years ago after the NFL lockout was concluded restrictions were put on offseason workouts as well as hitting during practice.  All to make the game safer.  It has done nothing of the sort.  If anything soft tissue and muscle injuries are at an all time high.  Head injuries are nothing to take lightly but obviously after Ward's comment we can see going low is on players minds.  Now the Patriots must plan for life without Gronk for the remainder of the season.  How will the Patriots manage?  The team has overcome so much already this season and they are resilient.  Here are some ways and reason for hope for Patriots fans. While the offense was not great with Gronk out of the offense for the first six games of the season, the team was 5-1.  Unlike last years team which lost Gronk during the playoffs and the 2011 team where he played at less than 100 percent during the Super Bowl, this years team has played without him. In the first six games not only was the offense without Gronkowski but they were missing Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen for five of them as well. While Amendola is working his way back from a torn groin he is getting better by the week. Amendola has 41 reception for 448 yards and two trips to the endzone. He will be counted on to replace Gronk across the middle.  Shane Vereen is the really important cog in the machine.  In the four games since he returned he has 33 receptions and is constantly making plays. In the five games Vereen has played he has 40 catches for 373 yards. Both these men will need to continue performing well for the team to have a chance.  Game planning. Josh McDaniels is having a rough year in the eyes of many Patriots fans and media alike.  He needs to step up and game plan for what he has on the field. The Patriots when rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins come back will have some great depth at wide receiver.  They will need to work in many three wide sets and hope to get mismatches with guys like Julien Edelman, Shane Vereen, and Amendola.  The running game needs to be relied upon. This means that Stevan Ridley needs to become what he was last year. He needs to hold onto the ball and run hard between the tackles.  Shane Vereen needs to be given a chance to be more of a runner.  In game one against the Bills he carried the ball 14 times. In the four games since his return he only has 22 carries.  This could be to protect his wrist but it's time to let the shifty back be the star he can be. The Patriots have been put through much adversity this season.  Season ending injuries  to Mayo, Wilfork, Kelly and Vollmer have hurt but each week they find a way to win. The coaching staff must continue to put this team in position to win. The players must do a better job of executing the offense.  They must be near perfect now but any team that has Tom Brady at the helm has a chance. Just look at the ways this team has been all but dead in games and won. Down 24 versus the Denver Broncos they find a way to win. Giving up a late lead to the Saints they win with five second left. Finally Sunday with a little over two minutes left with a 12 point deficit and a fourth loss staring them in the face the Patriots win. The season has been special and a war of attrition and the battle tested Patriots have lost another solider, yet they continue to fight the battle and look to win the war.  
Jeff Kane

Jeff Kane is the Patriots Beat Manager for CLNS Radio He is the lead host for Patriots Beat and Host of the Patriots Post Game Show. His quick-witted style and knowlege of the New England Patriots are some of his endearing qualities to CLNS listeners.

Jeff is a lifelong Boston sports fan who grew up right outside of Boston. His passion for the New England Patriots dates back to watching his first game in 1984. Jeff grew up with love for the Larry Bird led Celtics, watching games after his bedtime with his father Chuck.

A self describe football know-it-all. Jeff says his favorite sports memories are the Snow Bowl Game and attending game one of the NBA playoffs with his father in 2008.

Jeff currently resides in New Hampton, New Hampshire with his Wife Michelle and his two sons Connelly and Saygen.

Jeff can be reached by email: jkane@clnsradio.com

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