FIRST, Patriots Nation was forced to watch Rob Gronkowski stumble through his first night as a television commentator.
Then, the home fans were forced to again watch the team’s offense without him.
The Fox debut was an example of a square peg in a round hole, but I think Gronk will eventually be OK on camera (he’s naturally funny and goofy). He had to be nervous on Night 1.
The question is: Will the offense ever to better without him?
Besides seeing the big fella on TV in street clothes, the local fans were also teased before the game when Robert Kraft told the world the player has NOT filed his retirement paperwork.
“We all love Gronk and I think the bottom line is, he hasn’t put his retirement papers in,” Kraft told NFL Network. “We can always pray and hope. ... That’s a good academic argument that there is hope for us still with Gronk.”
Clearly, the owner isn’t thinking about Gronk’s well being. This is about football, folks.
On Fox, Gronk made it clear what this is really all about — the condition of a battered 29-year-old body.
“I’ll always keep it open,” he said. “I’ll always keep the door open.
But, as Gronk, who credits CBD oil with helping him recover, said in August: “I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life.”
Terry Bradshaw, who isn’t afraid to blurt out anything (and we love him for it), pressed Gronk.
Bradshaw: “Does that mean football’s out now? You’re never going back? Because I know you didn’t sign that closure contract (retirement papers).”
Gronk: “I’ve answered this question many times before.”
Bradshaw: “Not from me.”
Gronk: “I would have to be feeling it, you know, feeling it big time to come back. It’s always going to be open, in my mind. I love the game of football, you know, I love playing the game, I love being around the game, I even love watching the game of football now . . . the appreciation of watching it, seeing the hits, seeing the glory of it, you understand the game so much more, the fans of the game so much more.”
No Gronk. No Antonio Brown. No Phillip Dorsett. No Rex Burkhead. Josh Gordon got hurt. Others all kinds of banged up. Life wasn’t easy for TB12 Thursday night.
Face it, the Giants, no matter their record, are always tough on Brady.
Asked to describe the sixth straight win to start the season, Brady said, “How do I describe it? Happy we won. Happy to get to 6-0. Yeah, we just grinded it out pretty good. Got kind of forced into one grouping there in the second half. I don’t think that’s ever happened in 20 years, but defense played great, special teams played great. Outside of a few plays, it would have been pretty good. So, we’re hanging in there.”
The defense HAS been great. Heck, it’s been unreal. But Thursday night, it was another Pop Warner offense it faced, and there will be tougher tests (we think) down the road. The Pats scored 35 points and covered, but it wasn’t because of the offense.
Brady scored two touchdowns, saying, “We were low on some bodies and had some opportunity there, so tried to just get it in.”
Low on bodies is a great way to put it.
Got a kick out of something ESPN’s Skip Bayless said, which is something I can’t say every day. Bayless said, “Do you realize Brady has made it work tonight having to throw to Gunner (Olszewski) and Ryan Izzo and Jakobi Meyers? I always say, Brady could go out before a game and pick three guys from Dorchester out of the stands and make it work throwing to them. That’s pretty much what he did tonight.”
Now, the Pats get extra time to prepare for the J-E-T-S on Monday night, Oct. 21, in the Meadowlands.
“There’s certainly a lot of things we need to work on,” coach Bill Belichick said Friday. “There’s certainly a lot of things that we can evaluate. We have six games and these guys have been playing a lot of football.
“Really, it’s been pretty non-stop for the last 12 weeks going back to the start of training camp in July. You grind all the way through camp, grind through six regular-season games. It’s tough. But now it’s an opportunity to get a little window and so we’ll try to take advantage of that and be ready to go against the Jets.”
By the way, an unsung hero in the 6-0 start that should easily go to 8-0 is Brandon Bolden, who has forged his way at least even with a struggling Sony Michel as a primary runner. Bolden continues his strong play on special teams (see blocked punt) as his role on the offense increases.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get,” Bolden said after the game. “The offense trusts me enough to throw me in there, so I’m just trying to do my job the best I can.
“I’m just out there doing what they call on me to do. If it’s out there to rush the punt, I’m going to rush it. If it’s out there to catch a pass, I’m going to do the best I can to catch it. If it’s out there to run the ball, I’m going to put my head down and try to get some yards.”
Offered the incredibly gutsy Julian Edelman on Bolden: “He is a leader on this team, he is a very selfless player and he does a lot for us. It is always good to see him go out there and make plays because he deserves it with how hard he works and the kind of guy he is in the locker room. He is just a great guy to be around and I love that dude.”
You might not have paid much attention because of the late starts, but the Bruins finished an opening four-game road trip with their first loss of the season in Denver — a tough loss that saw two goals taken away by video review.
The New Jersey Devils, off to an 0-2-2 and a minus-11 goal differential start, visit the redesigned TD Garden for the home opener Saturday night. It is the start of a three-game homestand for the B’s (remember, Monday is a holiday day game, against the Ducks).
After Thursday night’s loss, David Krejci said, “Obviously frustrating to lose the last game. We felt like we had a good start. Just a couple tough bounces. Overall, six out of eight points is not bad. We feel in here that we easily could have had eight.”
One thing is clear through the first four games: That potential hangover I talked about in this space after losing Game 7 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final is NOT there.