I’ve got some big shoes to fill this week as our main writer for Jimmy Graham got some cold feet when we asked him to say something bad about Rob Gronkowski. I can understand. He’s a big guy and I sure wouldn’t want to tick him off either. Rob this isn’t personal, I promise, but we’ve got to realize that Graham has just got a better set up than you. Can we still be friends?
In order for me to talk about the positives for Jimmy I’m gonna have to focus on the negatives for Rob without the aforementioned ticking the Gronk off. Now there’s a reason Rob got all that target love last season with 124 from the great butt chin himself, Tom Brady. Let’s look at his receiving corps for 2011 shall we? Last year, it was the Wes Welker (122) and Gronk (90) show in New England with a side of gimpy Aaron Hernandez (79) as the three leading receivers for the Pats. Why is a slot receiver and two tight ends the main targets for such a high powered offense, you ask? Besides the obvious – those are three talented dudes – there really wasn’t anyone else to throw it to. Well there was Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch with 51 receptions but that Superbowl was in 2005 and he’s 5′ 9″. Now I’m no genius, but I googled Welker’s height and saw he too was listed at 5′ 9″. If Wes is 5′ 9″ then Frodo can dunk a basketball. Let’s just agree that sometimes media guides about players ‘stretch the truth’ a bit, ok? To fix this vertical problem, the Pats went out and got themselves a decent sized receiver in Brandon Lloyd. Sure, Lloyd is no 2007 Randy Moss but he’s a much better down field target than Peter D(eion)klage Branch to spread the field with. Sorry, Gronk owners, but that means they’re gonna spread the wealth as well. You couple that with a healthy Hernandez and you have a recipe for reduced looks for Gronk. No, Rob, I didn’t just call you ugly there I promise!
Alright, now that we’ve shaken your faith in Rob let’s give you a beacon of hope in the darkness. Follow me, my child and I shall show you the way to Saint Jimmy. Graham, not unlike Gronk, had a breakout 2011 campaign as he led his team in the holy receiving trifecta: 99 receptions, 1310 rec yards and 11 touchdowns. The difference for Graham is the targets surrounding him aren’t getting better and in fact, the team has downsized it’s wide receiving corps by letting Robert Meachem go to the Chargers over the off-season. Though Meachem’s role wasn’t huge in that offense, he did account for 40 receptions and 6 touchdowns. Maybe a few more of the end zone looks go Graham’s way. Maybe a few more receptions land in his hands. Maybe he dances with the devil by the pale moon light. I honestly don’t know but for as big of a season Jimmy had in 2011, Rob had a bigger one and it’s due for regression given the makeup of his team. I think Graham can stay in line with what he gave you in 2011 with a little room for upside in touchdowns and receptions while Rob is gonna come back to earth a bit. Of course we all know you’re going to get something good out of both of them, but give me the one that can excel his 2011 numbers but won’t have a hard time repeating them either. There, there Rob, don’t cry…seriously don’t, you’re huge and it’s kind of embarrassing. I know what’ll cheer you up…let’s go to Aruba!