NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 7, 2013

Message to Gronk: See you on Sunday?

Bill Burt
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Where are you, Rob Gronkowski?

I’ve seen you on Dunkin Donuts commercials. I’ve seen you doing those boring “foot fire” drills during the media portion of practices. Heck, I’ve seen video of you during some drunken act on some stage doing flips with your brothers.

The only place I haven’t seen you is on some National Football League field, on Sundays.

Mind you, I’m not one to question somebody’s pain threshold or physical toughness. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

But your team needs you. No, I mean your team really needs you.

Trust me, I understand your trepidation. The Patriots probably rushed you back, via peer pressure, last year when you weren’t 100 percent and it cost you a good chunk of the season, possible trip to another Super Bowl and two or three surgeries.

You probably know this by now, but Tom Brady is a mess. He is frustrated and he is forcing plays that aren’t there, which is unbecoming of the future Hall of Famer.

The rookie wide receivers are going to be good. I really believe it. But it’s not going to be for a few months before Brady can depend on them.

Your team needs you. Your quarterback desperately needs you.

All you have to do is watch the opposition play your Patriots defense. It’s not the high-priced, diva-like wide receivers that are killing them. It’s those tight ends that are extending drives and getting open in the middle of the field.

Next Sunday night is going to be interesting around here. The New Orleans Saints, now 5-0 after an impressive win in Chicago yesterday, come to Foxborough for a nationally televised game.

But the interesting part is that the Saints have the best tight end in the NFL not named Rob Gronkowski. His name is Jimmy Graham. He’s already on record as saying he’s the best tight end in football and I’m guessing he will reiterate that this week when provoked.

Graham has some cache on his side. He was recently named the Offensive Player of the Month for September, the first time a tight end has ever earned the honor, with 27 catches, 458 yards and six TD receptions. Yesterday, Graham had 10 catches for 135 yards. If you multiply his performance times three, he will best Gronkowski’s NFL records for yards and touchdowns for a tight end.

Come to think of it, this Graham guy might have a point.

While yesterday was a miserable mess in Cincinnati — Brady completed 18 of 38 passes and didn’t throw a TD pass for the first time in nearly 3 1/2 seasons — this is an interesting New England team. It is the most balanced offense you’ve seen in Foxboro since you arrived in 2010 and this defense might actually be very good.

The Patriots defense did everything in their power to give Brady and the offense a chance to pull it out. The forced fumble by Patriots safety Devon McCourty — who put his helmet on the ball carried by Bengals rookie back Giovani Bernard — with 3:26 remaining in the game bordered on special. That was until the Patriots were forced to punt in three plays.

The Patriots, quite honestly at 4-1, are not too far from being a Super Bowl contender.

But they need help on offense, in the middle of the field, where you have always done your best work.

In other words ... see you Sunday?

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.