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Friday, August 23, 2019

Rob Gronkowski

10 most important players of Super Bowl LIII

Rob Gronkowski

Just as coaching staffs have been analyzing their Super Bowl opponents and formulating gameplans, fans and pundits are looking at matchups and potential talking points for the big game. There’s a lot to digest in a matchup of Bill Belichick and Sean McVay, along with the numerous weapons both coaches have at their disposal.

Which players will matter most, though? There are several names who could flip the game if they play at their best. Here are ten key players to look out for once Super Bowl LIII kicks off.

10) C.J. Anderson, RB, Rams

It’s become abundantly clear over the course of the playoffs that Anderson has a big role in the Los Angeles offense, particularly as a vertical runner. He outran Todd Gurley against the Cowboys and got significantly more carries against the Saints. How they’ll choose to deploy him against the Patriots remains to be seen, but there’s little doubt that Anderson is in line for a major role as they try to keep the New England defense and scheme on its toes.

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Rob Gronkowski’s brother shares thoughts on retirement talk surrounding TE

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski did not make a major impact on the stat sheet this season the way he has done throughout the majority of his career, but his presence has been felt in a big way during the playoffs. While a slightly slower Gronk is better than most of the tight ends in football, that does not mean he is committed to continuing his career after the Super Bowl.

Gronkowski’s older brother Chris, a former NFL fullback, told TMZ this week that Rob probably has not made up his mind about whether or not he will keep playing.

“I think that’s a question that I don’t think anybody actually knows the answer to at this point,” Chris said. “There’s so many emotions going throughout a season, throughout an offseason, throughout a game. I think that’s probably the last thing on anybody’s mind right now. You don’t even think about that stuff going into a huge game like this.

“I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t even think at this point that he knows what he’s going to do after the season.”

While a lot of the retirement rumors stem from the fact that Gronkowski has looked a step slower this season, he really brought them on himself. After the Patriots lost to the Eagles in the Super Bowl last year, Gronk openly contemplated retirement and said he was going to take some time to evaluate his future.

Gronkowski’s extensive injury history may be what pushes him to call it a career, but his brother is not the only person who has taken note of the contributions he is making during New England’s latest Super Bowl run. If the Patriots beat the Rams, Gronk’s decision might be a little bit easier.

Rob Gronkowski not expected to pursue WWE career after football

Rob Gronkowski

There has long been speculation that Rob Gronkowski could pursue a career in wrestling when he retires from playing football, and that retirement may come within the next month. However, it still seems unlikely that Gronk will be signing any type of deal with Vince McMahon when calls it a career.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reiterated on Sunday that people close to Gronkowski believe there is a “strong chance” the star tight end will retire after the season, but he is more likely to pursue a career in Hollywood than the WWE.

If Gronkowski does retire from football, injuries will probably be the motivation behind the decision. Say what you will about pro wrestlers, but they still put their bodies through plenty of physical stress. That’s probably not the best career path for Gronk if he wants to remain healthy.

Having said that, Gronk has already made an appearance at a major WWE event. Even if he doesn’t pursue wrestling full-time, there will likely be more opportunities like that in the future.

Rob Gronkowski insists he is not thinking about retirement

Rob Gronkowski

There has been a lot of speculation that Rob Gronkowski may be playing out the final games of his career with the New England Patriots, but the star tight end insists he is not thinking about retirement as he tries to help the team win another title.

Prior to New England’s dominating win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that people close to Gronkowski believe the five-time Pro Bowler will retire after the season. Gronk later told reporters he is “all in” and not giving that any thought.

Gronkowski caught his lone target on Sunday and turned it into 25 yards, shedding defenders the way we have seen him do so many times throughout his career. He also played a massive role in the run game and drew the praise of one of his former teammates for the way he dominated Chargers defenders at the line of scrimmage.

While he’s still only 29, Gronkowski has suffered multiple significant injuries throughout his career. He can’t be surprised that people are talking about him retiring, especially since he openly contemplated doing so a year ago and was nearly traded around the same time.

Martellus Bennett praises Rob Gronkowski for his quiet contributions

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski once again did not play a major role in the passing game for the New England Patriots on Sunday, but to say his presence was felt would be an understatement. Martellus Bennett understands that more than most, and the former NFL tight end called attention to it.

Gronkowski did not catch a pass in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers, but he was an absolute beast in the running game. Here’s one of several blocks he threw that helped the Patriots run wild against LA:

Because he is known for scoring touchdowns and dominating defensive backs, many don’t realize how big of an impact a healthy Gronkowski makes in the running game. Bennett, who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2016, has seen it in person and said that part of Gronk’s game is what makes him the NFL’s best.

Considering Gronkowski has had back issues throughout his career and again this season, the way he opened up holes and blocked multiple defenders on some plays was a great sign for the Patriots. Even if he has lost some speed and explosiveness, he can clearly play a huge role without catching the ball. That, New England’s play in all phases of the game, and some of the inexcusable mistakes that were made on Sunday gave the Chargers no chance.

Report: People close to Rob Gronkowki expect star TE to retire

Rob Gronkowski

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has looked like a shell of his once-dominant self this season, and some say he is injured while others say he has lost his passion for football. Both could be factors, and it sounds legitimately possible that this could be Gronk’s last season in the NFL.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, some people close to Gronkowski expect him to retire after the season. Gronkowski is apparently healthy heading into Sunday’s playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but sources told Rapoport “everything has been a battle” for the 29-year-old and they wonder how much he still loves playing.

Gronkowski openly contemplated retirement after the Patriots’ heartbreaking loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl last year, and there were reports that Bill Belichick came close to trading him to the Detroit Lions. Gronk has said he would not want to play for any other team and would only catch passes from Tom Brady, and he supposedly went to Patriots owner Robert Kraft to veto an agreed upon trade involving him.

Even if Gronk wants to keep playing football in 2019, the Patriots probably don’t want to pay him his base salary of $9 million next season after he caught just 47 passes in 13 regular-season games this year. If Gronkowski truly would not play for any other team, that might make his decision easier.

There was some talk about Gronkowski being unhappy with his financial situation heading into 2018, but it seems doubtful that will be an issue this offseason. His level of commitment to football will likely be the biggest question.

End of Patriots’ dynasty is so clearly upon us

Tom Brady

The New England Patriots’ dynasty came to an end with their Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last season, and the team’s downfall is now so clearly upon us.

The Patriots lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 on Sunday and looked bad in so many regards. Tom Brady threw an ugly red zone interception late in the game — the second straight week where he made a terrible play in the red zone. He was getting rid of balls early like he was worried that the offensive line wouldn’t hold up. Rob Gronkowski has looked old, slow, injured, and unmotivated for much of the season. Julian Edelman has displayed shaky hands. On the whole, the offense is in a class behind the NFL’s elite units, like the Chiefs, Rams and Saints. Bill Belichick seems to recognize that, which is probably why he surprisingly kicked a field goal rather than go for it on 4th-and-1 from the six late in the third.

The stats following the loss to the Steelers scream the end of the dynasty.

– New England’s five losses this season are their most of the decade (since 2010, they were no worse than 12-4).
– This is the first time since 2002 that they’ve lost consecutive games in December
– This is the first time since 2009 that they’ve had a losing road record

The Patriots will still probably win the AFC East and a playoff game or two, but they do not look like a Super Bowl team. You get the feeling that this would have been a perfect time to start transitioning towards Jimmy Garoppolo, but we all know it’s too late for that.

The Patriots’ Super Bowl window with this core has shut.