When a player can be multi-faceted and excel in specific roles they become a force multiplier. Rob Gronkowski’s role on this offense has shown the multiple jobs he can fill. The ability to fulfill these demanding tasks has made him the Buccaneers’ ultimate role player.
To provide utility Gronkowski has been asked to satisfy a few roles. By breaking down his snaps we can see his usage. So, as it stands, this year Gronkowski has played in roughly 80.4% of the offenses plays. That works out to be a total of 809 snaps.
335 of those snaps he was assigned to run blocking this season. An additional blocker on the line of scrimmage with Gronkowski’s skill set is important. Ultimately it creates a dilemma for defenses. They must determine rather quickly if it is a pass play or a run play. Since Gronkowski is solid as a receiver it aids in hiding the offense’s intentions and makes defending more difficult. This has helped Ronald Jones averaged 5.1 yards a carry this season. So far Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn are all averaging over four yards a carry in the postseason. Gronkowski has helped the run game against some of the NFL’s best defenses.
Used less often but not unheard of is Gronkowski’s use as a pass blocker. This year his 86 snaps have helped the Buccaneers and Tom Brady while they have looked to stretch the field. Having Gronkowski anchor the end of the line of scrimmage buys Brady time and allows the play to develop. Though he less often used in this fashion he still grades at a 62 by Pro Football Focus (PFF, subscription required). When utilized this way the offensive line is substantially improved.
Receiving is where Gronkowski fills in the stat line. PFF grades him at a stout 76.5. This regular season has seen “Gronk” haul in 45 of 77 targets. That is roughly a catch percentage of 58%. Those catches have been huge for this offense. More than half of his receptions have been for first downs (29) and he averages 13.8 yards a reception on the season. Additionally, he has an average of 5.5 yards after the catch. This makes Gronkowski a threat as a receiver but also takes much of the pressure off of the wideouts who are lined up.
Gronkowski represents the horns of a dilemma for opposing defenses. They must choose between two or more things (who to cover), all of which are unpleasant or difficult.
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