The Steelers said they were going to “jam” Rob Gronkowski in the NFL season opener. But the only jamming going in Foxboro last week was the repetitive sound of Bon Jovi’s “This is our house” on the PA system after Gronk found the end zone three different times.
It’s safe to say that Bill head coach Rex Ryan won’t make the same mistake that Mike Tomlin made and will do just about anything to keep the ball out of No. 87’s hands this coming Sunday in Orchard Park (1 p.m., CBS).
Before Ryan was neutered by the Jets front office and lost his bravado, his Jets did a great job on a young Gronkowski. In 2010, Ryan’s Jets played the Patriots three times. Gronkowski, then a rookie, caught just six balls total in those games and did not find the end zone. Even in that infant stage, Gronkowski had been finding the end zone. In the Pats’ four regular season games before a 28-21 home playoff loss to Ryan’s Jets, Gronk registered four touchdown grabs.
In that game, Gronk was targeted six times. X-receiver Deion Branch was targeted a team-high 10 times.
Ryan seemingly doesn’t mind when Tom Brady looks toward outside receivers. Aaron Dobson, in his first pro game, was targeted 10 times in a narrow 13-10 Patriots win over the Jets in 2013. He had a touchdown grab but Ryan’s defense did a solid job of slowing down the New England offense in that game.
Dobson, again the Patriots’ primary outside threat with Brandon LaFell out due to injury, will surely see more targets in Week 2 against Ryan’s Bills. Dobson was targeted just once by Brady in the Pats win over the Steelers last week.
Rex on Gronk:
“He’s a big, huge dude now. He’s got great body control. He’s just a huge target. And he can run a lot better than I think people know.”