After the New England Patriots loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship, Greg Bedard wrote, in my opinion, the greatest in-depth and insightful analysis column. He highlighted certain reasons for the Patriots loss, and claimed that they played their worst at the absolute worst time. Failure of the run game, poor blocking, indecisive coaching, and missed tackles were where the Patriots had their shortcomings, thus resulting in a loss to a better team. All of this seems obvious, but I took one extremely glaring conclusions from his column - First, Rob Gronkowski is an extremely viable candidate for Patriots offensive MVP, and that it the highest of praise for a team that features a future Hall of Fame Quarterback in Tom Brady.
Prior to the Playoffs starting, I claimed that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl because of their improved run game, and their renovated defensive scheme. Well as we all know, Aqib Talib went out, Marquis Cole came in, and the Patriots never made the Ravens feel threatened by the ground game. The Ravens never even showed a sign of worry. According to Bedard, the Ravens played three snaps in their base defense, and the rest of the time in the Nickel Defense. This means that the Ravens basically played the pass all game, therefore never sensing that they could get beat by the run. The Patriots proved them right. They ran for 3.6 yards a carry against the Nickel (3.9 yards overall). Why? Bedard points to the poor tight end blocking by Aaron Hernandez and Michael Hoomanawanui. This brings me to my original conclusion. If anybody has read my prior material, I listed numerous reasons about why those who entertained the idea of trading Gronk were perfectly insane (read it here). Bedard gives this telling statistic:
"In the game before Gronkowski got hurt, the Patriots averaged 4.1 explosive runs (runs over 10 yards). After: 2.1." Stated Bedard.Add that to the already extensive list of Gronkowski's achievements that make his value even greater. I am so glad we locked him down for years.