JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It may be the NFL’s greatest unsolved mystery. How do you defend Rob Gronkowski?
“Damn,” says Jaguars defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. “That’s a good question.”
Asked the same question on Monday – how do you defend Gronk in Sunday’s AFC championship – Jags coach Doug Marrone said, “I’m not sure you can.”
Dareus breaks the Pats tight end down this way: “He can be X. He can be Y. He can be slot. He can be tight end. He can be blocking tight end. Just so dynamic.”
So, how to defend him?
“Best way is to have a big cover linebacker who can run,” Dareus said. “In Buffalo we had Manny Lawson. He did a pretty good job. That’s the only thing I can say.”
Manny Lawson is 6-foot-5 and years ago once ran a 4.43 at the scouting combine. Do the Jags have anyone like that?
“Not as big as Manny Lawson,” Dareus said. “Our guys can cover pretty well. It’s just … He’s a big dude. Simple as that.”
Gronkowski is not only the best tight end remaining in the playoffs; he’s the best skill-position player. The Minnesota Vikings have Adam Thielen and the Philadelphia Eagles have Zach Ertz and the Jags have Leonard Fournette, but Gronkowski has traits of all three.
What will the Jags counter with? Jalen Ramsey? Myles Jack? Both? They have the speed. But both are listed as 6-1, and Gronkowski is 6-6. Add the “catch radius” Marrone and others describe – supplemented by a subtle shove from the burly tight end – and difficult becomes borderline impossible.
on this: air yards per target. It’s a measure of how