“I came here to block, baby” could make it onto a T-shirt, but that’s hardly an accurate representation of why the Buccaneers traded for the privilege of paying Rob Gronkowski $9 million this year.
Gronk, in true Gronk fashion, laughed off his lack of involvement in the Tampa Bay offense through two games, saying “[f]our targets is four more than I thought I was going to get.”
Baloney. Gronk didn’t press pause on a no-pain-plenty-of-gain media career to hitch his wagon to the left or right tackle and take on pass rushers. Gronk came back to do Gronk things. While he always has been respected as a blocker, he’s a future Hall of Famer because of Gronkspikes, not pancakes.
Watching the first two games of the season, the problem is obvious: He can’t move like he previously did. Against the Saints in Week One, after he made his first catch as a Buc, Gronk ran as if his feet were stuck in Mississippi mud.
Although he had no catches in Week Two, two passes were thrown his way. For the first, he made an un-Gronk-like flailing motion for the ball as it sailed over his head. For the second (wiped out by an interference foul on the defense), Gronk had the ball in his hands but hot potatoed it in a way that the Gronk of old never did.
Maybe it will eventually come back. Maybe it won’t. For now, though, the Gronk of Old has been replaced by a Gronk who looks old, and who may be in the process of realizing after a year off that everyone seems a lot faster than they used to be. Primarily because for now he is noticeably slower than he used to be.