Bill Barnwell writes about the 2014-15 Super Bowl,

Gronkowski spent a surprising amount of time matched up early split out as the world’s biggest decoy against Richard Sherman, but as the game wore on, he ended up in matchups against linebackers and safety Kam Chancellor and found them more to his liking.

Why would the Patriots split Gronkowski, arguably the Patriots' biggest receiving threat and a guy who's comfortable in the middle of the field out wide, where Richard Sherman is at his best?


1 Answer 1


Well to answer the question specifically, a big reason they chose to split him out wide against Sherman, is because of Sherman's arm injury. A big part of Sherman's game is getting his hands on receivers, being more physical, and bumping them off their routes. Now Gronk has 3 inches and 70 pounds on Sherman, and with his bum arm, he wasn't able to lift it and use it to full strength, so Gronk would be able to take advantage of the size differential a lot better with a less than healthy Sherman. That's why you saw, at times in the game, other people going against Gronk, because Sherman wasn't at his best and able to be as effective against the bigger receiver like he usually is.

"The one thing that stands out on tape is that no matter where he(Gronkowski) lines up, the teams that disrupted him -- either at the line of scrimmage or within five yards of his release -- had the most success. Gronk is a bad man and if he gets a free run off the line, bad things happen."


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    There's also the fact that Seattle likes to play Cover-3 most of the time, a formation that leaves Earl Thomas as the centerfield and puts Kam Chancellor near the line. Now, Gronk almost always draw double-coverage from the defense, but since Thomas is set as the deep safety, Seattle had to commit Kam or some of the linebackers to Gronk outside. This opened a gigantic hole in the middle of Seahawks defense, where Brady completed passes to Edelman, Amendola and Vereen, moving the chains. Belichick knew he could not count on running on Seattle for first downs.
    – lsdr
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:34

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