Lorenzo Alexander isn’t buying into the notion that life just became much easier for the Buffalo Bills and every other team that faces the New England Patriots because of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.
As far as the Bills veteran linebacker is concerned, such opinions are more prominent among those who have never shared the field with arguably the greatest tight end to ever play the game.
‘I like playing against the best’
“I think that’s more of a fan-base feeling,” Alexander told Bob Papa and Charlie Weis on The Opening Drive. “Obviously, Rob has done a great job in his career, been dominant. He’s put up big-time numbers, but I like playing against the best. I’m actually going to miss him being out there.
“He’s probably one of the few tight ends that I’ve played in my career that was obviously elite in the passing game, but then also with getting physical and trying to block you and be a dog in the run game as well. So I’m definitely going to miss him out there, his personality and everything that he brought to the game. … He brought that gritty that you kind of need on a football team. The way he played wasn’t pretty. He was very physical, kind of unorthodox, but he made big plays, he was tough, physical.”
‘Obviously, towards his last year, he was a little nicked up and stuff, so he wasn’t quite the same’
Alexander saw an obvious physical decline in Gronkowski during the 2018 season, due to injury, yet that didn’t stop the tight end from helping the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl.
“He played the game at a high level, had a lot of fun doing it, and always competed at a high level.”
“Obviously, towards his last year, he was a little nicked up and stuff, so he wasn’t quite the same,” Alexander said. “But he came on strong in the playoffs. And that’s just the type of guy he is. He’s going to fight through things, he’s a dog and I have a lot of respect for him on the field. I really don’t know him off the field, but on the field, obviously, he had that one thing with (Bills cornerback) Tre’Davious (White, who Gronkowski purposely slammed his body on in a 2017 game while the much smaller White was on the ground). But I think that was more out of frustration than anything. I’m going to miss the guy. He played the game at a high level, had a lot of fun doing it, and always competed at a high level.”
‘We’ve seen over the years Tom Brady be very fluid in whoever the talent is that they bring in and still be able to compete at a high level’
Alexander acknowledged that, at least for the time being, the Patriots’ offense has a prominent hole “on paper.”
“But we’ve seen over the years Tom Brady be very fluid in whoever the talent is that they bring in and still be able to compete at a high level,” the linebacker said. “This past year is a great picture of what it may look like not to have Rob Gronkowski as we know what Gronk can do. Because this year, he was injured, nicked up and I don’t think, during the season at least, he was as explosive in the pass game or in the blocking game as he tends to be. So they found other ways to win.
‘They just find ways to make plays with the guys they have on the team’
“I’m pretty sure they’ll bring in a guy. They have some younger guys on that team that now have an opportunity and they seem like they always have somebody in the waiting, so from my perspective, when we play them or if they go into the season, I don’t think they’re going to be any less of an offensive issue to deal with from a defensive perspective. They just find ways to make plays with the guys they have on the team.”
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