Following the New England Patriots' loss to the Denver Broncos, one of the biggest storylines has been the number of penalties called on Rob Gronkowski for offensive pass interference.
Incredibly, he's been flagged for it five times this season, which is more than 30 other teams. It's turned into a debate about whether or not officials are targeting Gronkowski with these flags,which Gronkowski agrees with.
Given his size and strength, it's easy to think Gronkowski is committing a penalty. Oftentimes, however, it's just a matter of Gronk being bigger than nearly everyone on the field. That's the argument Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels made on Tuesday.
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“The best thing we can do is try to coach Rob based on the way we've been told we can play,” McDaniels said via ESPN's Mike Reiss. “Rob, very rarely if ever, extends his arms. We try to make sure we don't do that. We try to make sure we're not the one that is pushing or shoving, or trying to move the defender in any way that's illegal. I think a lot of times the contact is initiated and the question is who is initiating it.”
Sunday's call against Gronkowski late in the game is the one that sparked this controversy. He didn't appear to push off a great deal, but it was enough for the referee to throw the flag and negate a first down.
Regardless of the number of times Gronkowski gets flagged, he doesn't expect him to change the way he plays. He's just grateful to have a guy like Gronk on his side.
“We're fortunate to have a guy that is a big athlete and is bigger than the guys that are covering him,” McDaniels said. “Sometimes we feel like contact is made, and because the other guy takes the brunt of it, sometimes we end up getting called for it.”