Rob Gronkowski is simply a man among boys. You cannot stop him, only hope to slow him down.
This season he’s averaging more than 5 catches per game at a ridiculous 19.3 yards per catch. To go along with that, Gronkowski has 4 TDs in just 3 games. Week after week, defensive coordinators are faced with slowing him down and week after week, they fail.
So what can the Cowboys do to contain him? The answer is much more simply said than done.
Dallas can’t allow Gronk to get a clean release off the line. Whether he’s playing as an in-line TE or split out in the slot, Defenders need to get their hands on him early and often. This is primarily difficult when he is playing inline, as the covering defender cannot press, leaving the responsibility on the DE to hit Gronk.
Luckily for us, Byron Jones was considered by many (including myself) a top – if not the top – press corner coming out of the draft. Jones has done a fine job this season covering tight ends and will need to continue that this Sunday if the Cowboys have hopes of winning.
When Gronkowski is allowed a clean release, he is simply too big and athletic to cover. He’ll be a mismatch no matter who is defending him. The Key for Byron will be to play sound technique and disrupt the timing off the line. If he fails to do that, it could be a long day for both Byron and the entire Cowboys defense.
But Byron Jones, although a first round pick, will not be able to cover Gronk alone.
He will need help from his linebackers underneath, and sound over-the-top coverage will also be key from the safeties. For more on Jones: Looking for Byron Jones: Keeping Busy in the Cowboys’ Secondary)
While J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church have struggled tackling over the past couple weeks, it will be crucial for them to limit Gronkowski after the catch. I look forward to seeing how rookie Byron Jones will compete facing the league’s best TE.