Rob Gronkowski has five offensive pass interference penalties this season, the most in the NFL, but he’s certainly not trying to rack them up.
The Patriots tight end got a questionable (but huge) OPI call in New England’s loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked Tuesday what the team was trying to do to prevent those calls. According to McDaniels, they’ve been trying to prevent them all along.
“I think that the best thing we can do is try to coach Rob based on the way that we’ve been told we can play,” McDaniels said. “Rob very rarely, if ever, extends his arms, and we try to make sure that we don’t do that. And I think that we try to make sure that we’re not the one that’s pushing or shoving or trying to move the defender in any way that’s illegal.”
Gronk seems to think he’s being targeted by officials, but McDaniels suggested the calls might have more to do with Gronkowski’s 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame.
“We’re fortunate to have a guy who is a big athlete and is bigger than the guys who are covering him, and at times I think sometimes we feel like the contact is made and because the other guy takes the brunt of it, sometimes we end up getting called for it,” McDaniels said. “But, you know, I think Rob is trying to play within the rules 100 percent of the time.”
The Patriots likely won’t have to worry about Gronkowski in Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, as he’s expected to miss the game with a bone bruise in his knee. But McDaniels emphasized that getting penalties is never the goal.
“We’ll do everything we can to try to clean that up and help Rob — and anybody else, for that matter — because we’ve been called for a few other ones along the way, too, to try to avoid those things coming up again,” McDaniels said.
Thumbnail photo via Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Images