Mail: How will the Broncos cover Rob Gronkowski?

Chris Jordan asks:

This is a great question, Chris.

Interestingly enough, it's the same question other teams ask themselves about Julius Thomas, except at this point in their careers, Thomas is more of a threat. There are really four options:

  1. Cover him with a linebacker. If the Broncos had Danny Trevathan, I'd feel much better about this option. This doesn't mean that Brandon Marshall can't do it for a play or two, and he certainly looked capable last week. However, it's not a strategy I'd go with all game.
  2. Cover him with a defensive back. This is an intriguing option, since the Broncos are loaded in this department. I'd like to propose something crazy. Put Chris Harris, Jr. on him all game. While Gronk is bigger and stronger, Harris is so strong out of the slot and can mix it up physically with Gronk, at least enough to make the Patriots choose "other." However, I don't think the Broncos will do this.
  3. Bracket Gronk. This is probably the option we'll see more often than not, and it involves a linebacker underneath and a defensive back over the top, hence the word "bracket." It's essentially a double team. It would neutralize Gronkowski, unless there were serious coverage breakdowns. It would also require the Broncos to handle the other Patriots threats, which they can do.
  4. Play zone. This involves dropping linebackers and extra defensive back into short zone coverage. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Broncos do exactly that. Gronk and Tom Brady are pretty good about finding the openings, though, so don't expect it to keep Gronkowski without some catches.

So, to review--I like Chris Harris on Gronk because I think Harris is that good, but more likely, the Broncos will play some bracket and zone coverage throughout the game.

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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