Gronk got called for Offesnive PI early in the second quarter against the Panthers on Sunday. It was a bogus flag IMHFO, which I believe was confirmed when the Panthers were immediately flagged for a DPI against Gronk on the next play. Gronk was doing his best Black Swan impression to get the call, even though he didn't have to. That was make up call city, population Mike Adams. Adams fouled Gronk, and the stripes owed us one. Turns out that would be the only flag on the Panthers all day, but please don't get me started on that again...
We're here to talk about OPI calls on Gronk. I admit when I saw the flag I sighed to myself. Even though that call was a worthless, steaming pile of cow dung, figuratively speaking, I conceded that's life with Gronk. He's going to commit OPI because he's so big and strong. Then I looked at the numbers.
In 2015 Gronk go flagged for OPI 5 times. That was more than 30 teams! Holy butthole Batman. But that flag he picked up on Sunday? That's his first OPI since November 2015, when Bill and Gronk made a commitment to stop getting tagged with that call. That's super impressive. I knew they were way down, but doesn't it feel like he picked up a couple last season? Granted he didn't play the whole year, but clearly they made an adjustment and it's working.
Bill was on Dale and Holly on Monday and had this to say. “Rob and I have talked about the situation," Belichick said. "He understands what he can and can’t do and I think he really tries to do what is legal and tries not to put himself in a situation where they can call him. He doesn’t push off. He doesn’t try to create space. He tries to defend himself and that is what he’s been taught to do. I think that is what he tries to do. Sometimes there is a gray area and it doesn’t go the way you want it to go, but I think he’s done a very good job of that the last couple of years, probably since ’15, the last two years of really being cognizant of — and look, he’s a big, strong guy, so if he pushes somebody it is different than if another guy is pushing him. I think overall he’s done a very good job of that. It was a tough call that we got yesterday. He’s really worked hard to avoid those and for the most part I think he has.”
Let's first take a look at this propoganda video put out by the NFL in an attempt to show what the rules are for one of the most arbitrary calls in all of sports.
Pretty standard stuff. Also LOL at that drop by Marquis Bundy on the Cardinals. Touch it, catch it big guy. How pissed is he there was a perfect example of OPI on this play, forever immortalizing it in the virtual rule book. But the push off is what I want to focus on, because they show it as pretty aggressive.
Now let's look at this breakdown from a few years ago where Soloman Wilcots analyzes all 5 OPI flags against Gronk in 2015. I can't seem to embed the video for whatever reason so just click this link, watch your ad, and suck it up.
I do think Gronk gets an unfair shake by the refs most of the time. Look no further than the ending to the Hawks game last year when he was pulled to the ground by Kam Chancellor like an Inferi coming out of the lake in Voldemort's cave with the ball in the air. But when you watch the above video I would say flags 1, 3, and 4 are blatant offensive PI. I haven't him seen him make a play like that in a long time, which is a testament to how much he's improved on this front. I can't find a highlight of the flag from Sunday, but its a far cry from the physicality in his flags from 2015.
I have ZERO problem with the way Gronk is running his routes. I said on Monday that if they are going to flag that play then there's no point in Gronk. He shouldn't be allowed in the league. Troy Aikman even said if they are going to call that then we will be here all day. Bill is right, Gronk works hard to avoid those calls. He doesn't push off, he boxes out legally, and uses his wide catch radius to get open. I don't expect him to pick up another OPI the rest of the year, and you can take that to the bank.
Good work, Gronk. You've been a beast for us this year. Keep doing your thing. And by that I mean, do the opposite of your thing which is missing half the season every year.