Steelers Know It Will Take A Group Effort To Keep Gronk In Check

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is now back with his team again after serving his one-game suspension last week and thus he should be well-rested for the Sunday road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gronkowski has had quite a bit of success against the Steelers during his career as he’s caught 30 passes for 496 yards and eight touchdowns in five career games against Pittsburgh. So, which Steelers defensive player will ultimately get the honor of covering Gronkowski this coming Sunday at Heinz Field? According to Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, we’re likely to see several different defensive players attempt to cover the league’s best tight end.

“We’ve got several guys we’re going to try to throw (at him),” Mitchell said, according to Jeremy Fowler of “It’s going to require coaches calling the right calls, it’s going be us executing everything they call to a T. There’s no real one real answer.”

Mitchell is exactly right and knowing the Patriots, they’re likely to use a lot of big personnel grouping packages on Sunday in an attempt to force the Steelers to use their base defense. With inside linebacker Ryan Shazier now out for the season, Gronkowski is likely to have a matchup to his liking on Sunday should the Steelers be forced to use their base 3-4 personnel grouping quite a bit during the Week 15 game.

The Steelers could attempt to use either their nickel or dime personnel grouping regardless of whatever offensive personnel the Patriots decide to utilize and if that’s ultimately the case, then we could see undersized nickel cornerback Mike Hilton attempting to cover the 6-6 Gronkowski some on Sunday.

“Basing off what they do, they try to give you mismatches,” Hilton said, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “They try to mix it up. And (Tom Brady) is one of the best quarterbacks — if not the best quarterback — to play the game. He will look that way. We know what to expect. It’s just a matter of executing and not beating ourselves.”

Hilton, who has played well in his first full season with the Steelers, sounds like he already has a plan in place should he ultimately be forced to cover Gronkowski some on Sunday.

“I know he’s a physical guy, so I feel like if I use my quickness and not let him get his hands on me, I will be able to break with him and have a chance to make a play,” Hilton said.

As for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who didn’t play all that well in his team’s Monday night road loss to the Miami Dolphins, he’s glad to have his top offensive weapon back this week and he talked on Thursday about how the big tight end makes his life as a quarterback easier.

“I mean, hes a great player,” Brady said of Gronkowski. “So, he’s a great matchup for us in the passing game, he’s a great blocker in the run game and his size, speed is good. And so they’ve really got to factor him in. He’s obviously a big part of our offense and gets a lot of targets and he makes a lot of big plays. So, I think when he’s out there, he’s tougher to defend The better players you have the field the tougher it is to defend and Gronk’s been one of the best to ever play at that position. So it’s good for our offense.”

The last time the Steelers beat the Patriots was in 2011 at Heinz Field and while their defense certainly didn’t shut down Gronkowski in that game as he caught 7 passes from Brady for 94 yards, they did manage to keep him from scoring during that contest. If the 2017 version of the Steelers can hold Gronkowski to a very similar stat-line Sunday at Heinz Field, it will go a long way in helping their chances of winning the game.

“At the end of the day, it’s just about getting hands on him and trying to disrupt him as best as possible,” Steelers rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt said.

That’s easier said than done, T.J.

Gronkowski enters Week 15 with 55 catches ob the season for 849 yards and seven touchdowns.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    The 2011 game was a blueprint for success against the Pats. If Haden is available they can pull it off.

  • Orlysteel

    Shazier starts physical rehabilitation, wow!!!!

  • MC

    I’d be comfortable having Watt and Sean Davis on him. Definitely not Golden and none of our short corners. Davis has experience at nickel, could be good to have him line up there and Gay at SS. Wouldn’t happen but its a thought.

    I don’t really want Hilton on him, he plays bigger than what he is but he is still too much of a size mismatch. Plus I think the pressure that Hilton brings on blitzes will be key in this game.

  • ThePointe

    Perhaps, just perhaps his injury might not be career ending.

  • pittfan

    I’d use every inch of the 5 yards you get to chuck the dickens out of this guy. If his WWF Hulk Hogan impersonation shows anything it’s that you can get under his skin by knocking him off, or disrupting his routes. Brady does a ton of presnap realignments. I’d run a LB out to chuck Gronk when he splits out and then pass him off to a safety or CB. But always have someone in his face.

  • DirtDawg1964

    How about if someone covers him? We’ve had a bad habit of leaving this guy alone at times.

  • StillerzHaterzAmuseMe

    We aren’t holding Gronk in check. We gotta score 35+ along with a couple defensive splash plays.

  • Reggie Cunningham

    do not play Golden in this game

  • mhurk

    Bryan Allen? I remember a big young corner Cortez ? shut Him down once. Just sayin.

  • cencalsteeler

    The Pats try to expose the short middle of the field by using hi low route trees. Usually a slant (low) with Gronk running the higher route (cross, posts).
    If Watt, Dupree, Hilton and/or Gay can take away those slant patterns, it makes covering Gronk simpler for the backers and the safety. MM also needs to play closer to keep Brady’s window over the middle smaller and be there to break up a pass or maybe get a pick.

  • Danielsteelstrong81

    Bryan Allen hasn’t even played..what makes you think this?


    I know it is way off topic but here we go.

    A sad day for America when three lobbiest/liars/cowards single handledly destroy the internet as they vote to repeal net neutrality. How do you see this affecting your website decicated to the best franchise in all of sports?

    I’m willing to bet there is a large amount of your readers that doesn’t even know what they lost today. Hopefully congress steps in and rights the enormous wrong that happened today.

  • mhurk

    Nobody thought Cortez Allen would shut Him down a few years back but He did. Just a long shot wild guess.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    brian* allen. not even close to polished enough to shut down gronk. and cortez? cortez couldnt shut down a water bottle.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    it should be. he will be lucky if he even walks again. reports are that his physical therapy today was just to try and sit up.

  • How about you let Ryan make that decision…

  • gdeuce

    what reports said that?

  • Mark

    Agree, we don’t know what GOD has in store for this young man

  • Vic

    Indeed, is there anyway we can all unite and fight these bastards? Black, Brown, white,& yellow we all gotta unite!

  • Mark

    Yes, and in/out bracket by Davis and Watt would be great with Deebo rushing.

  • AndyR34

    Write, call and talk to your Congressional Representative and both your Senators. Otherwise, pray that one or more of the lawsuits against this move is successful.

  • Steve

    After Hayden was off a few weeks, it’ll take him time to get into “Football Shape”. Joe will be better than 70% of CB’s in the league, but like Spence last week, it takes time for them legs to work properly and he may need to have a set or 2 off, until he is 100%.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Net Neutrality has been in place since only 2015. I believe this site has been around since 2007.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the sky is not falling, contrary to those who don’t have a real understanding of how the Net Neutrality rules and regulations were designed to work and what the positives and YES, NEGATIVES of such an encroachment by government into the private sector was truly meaning.

    I’m not saying you don’t, nor that you don’t feel passionately about your point of view, but just like with every issue, there is more than one side to the argument about its virtuousness.

  • mhurk

    ” The fact that the Steelers put their secret weapon Cortez Allen on one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the league shows the confidence that they had in his ability to take Gronkowski out of the game. Due to his smarts, ball hawking ability, and his physicality, Cortez Allen was able to shut down Gronkowski, leading the Steelers to victory.”

  • mhurk

    Steeler’s CB’s named Allen are Gronk’s Kryptonite! Somebody got to match up with Him, Who do You suggest? Golden?

  • mhurk

    On October 30th, 2011, the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the New England Patriots

  • John Phillips

    And I have a sneaking suspicion that net neutrality has been around as long As the internet itself.

  • Darth Blount 47

    If that’s true, guess we didn’t need to go and sign a law then, and moreover, don’t need to freak out about it suddenly being repealed if it were always there.

  • will


  • will


  • MJK

    ? can chickillo run with gronk ?

  • FATCAT716

    We can’t try that corner blitz with Tom. But when we go man I want Hilton on a running back or hogan

  • Michael Mosgrove

    even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and thne. where is cortez now? out of the league because he was an idiot.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    it was linked on twitter cant remember who.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    If we’re being real, even Shazier struggled with him. The guy’s just a beast and is likely to get his catches and yards. Pressure would really help and I fully expect to see Deebo up his play count.

  • Darth, you sound really ignorant on this topic. I think you should do some research on this topic.

    The man from the FCC who championed this push to appeal Net Neatrality is a former lawyer for Verison, and it seems as though he is still on their payroll.

    First of all, it is not democracy when three go against what hundreds on millions of people want. Aren’t they susposed to work for us?

    This is simply a way for the richest of the rich to get even richer at the expense of the American populous, liberal and conservative alike.

    There was a reason this law was put into place two years ago an it was because big services providors were taking advantage of small business and slowing down bandwidth rates on certain sites. It was a real problem, and to a certain degree still is, even under the law.

    The big service providers also plan to monetize the internet like cable TV plan. There is a basic plan that envelopes the basics of web action. Are you a gamer? It will cost extra to have use Playstation Network, Xbox Live, Twitch, Steam, etc. Are you a streamer? It will cost extra to use YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Iheartradio, etc. Are you an online shopper? It will cost extra to use Amazon, Ebay, etc.

    As you can see this is already going to affect a lot of people. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Service providers will now be able to block competitor websites. So if you have Verison like I do (they are the only network provider in my area so I have no choice) they can block Comcast sites, At&t sites etc. My cell phone provider is At&t, if my internet provider blocks their competition, now I have to find alternative ways to pay my bill because online payment is no longer an option.

    This also hurt small businesses becuase they won’t be able to pay enough money to show up in search results. Their websites loose traffic and in return, profit. How about not be able to to look for a new job when it’s time to move on?

    There is so much wrong with this and for you to simply brush it off, you have no clue on this. I emplore you to do some digging on this topic. You may not like what you find though, because it will affect you.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    I can only ever remember one team really beating the Pats with edge pressure. That was the Denver Broncos when they featured Von Miller and Demarcus Ware as their edge rushers. That’s one future hall of famer and another guy who is a Super Bowl MVP and on pace to make the hall. It might sound ridulous, but (depending which side he lines up on) Watt and Dupree might be more useful if they focused their attention on keeping Gronk at the LOS for as long as possible. In this scenario, the OLB would focus first on keeping Gronk from releasing and second on pass rush. He would NOT be the primary guy in coverage on Gronk. You’d basically be dedicating 2 guys to Gronkowski at the cost of an extra pass rusher. Perhaps though, stopping Gronk is the best way to stop Brady. Also, if you’re gonna get to Brady it’s more likely you’ll do it with inside pressure.

  • Intense Camel

    If I see Golden in on defense I’m turning the game off.

  • NCSteel

    The Gronk matchup concerns me, I suppose Hilton could probably keep up from a speed aspect but none of these guys can tackle worth a darn and that dude is a load.
    This game has concerned me all year and it still does.
    I have faith, but faith in this sense could use some positive facts to back it up. Home field is one I guess. Anybody got any more facts to help me here ???

  • Axe Skot

    He’s done. If he isn’t he’s crazy, so says my chiropractor. If he were to come back and injure that spot again, he is almost certainly paralyzed for life.

  • will

    No….that is Shamarko

  • Axe Skot

    I think Gronk is great. That is, my hatred for Gronk is almost as great as it is for Brady. I can’t wait to see Cindy frustrated by the D-line and screaming at his interior linemen.

  • will

    Why is this not good?

  • will

    DEEBo time for the pass rush

  • Sitting up is likely the first stage of physical therapy for any lower back surgery and doesn’t mean anything.

  • Why don’t you just burn your stuff already…

  • Intense Camel

    Why don’t you open your eyes? If he plays there’s literally no chance they win.

  • If you think this is good you are in the slimmest of minorities. You should do some research so you’ll know what you are talking about.

    Simply put, that law protected the internet and its freedom of speach. Now your service provider will have absolute control over your internet privileges and speeds, blocking you from sites they choose to (from competitors), and charging you for “advanced” web usages like gaming, streaming and shopping that used to be free. But its okay, continue being ignorant, it is what you are best at, right?

    Edit – Isn’t that why you edited your comment from a statement to a question?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    he sucked too.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    I’d love to see it, but I’m not holding my breath. They’ve underutilized him all season. Maybe just maybe tho…

  • ciscor65

    I have a feeling TJ Watt is going to play a big role in keeping gronk in check. The size and speed is a closer match now. I don’t think gronk will be shut down but I could be wrong. He earned his suspension last week out of frustration, the D was in his head. Lets see what the Steelers D can do, we know we will get their best Sunday. I can’t wait, its time for the Steelers to retake control of this rivalry after a lopsided 10+ years.

  • ciscor65

    Hopefully we will see Watt in that mix. There is a size and speed similarity. This could open up a corner blitz among other things. But this is only one part of the match up, our Steelers need to play well in all areas of the game to win. Here’s to a good game.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Oh, my friend… if you only knew just how ignorant on this topic that I WASN’T. But I can’t spend my time today explaining in simple terms, how a Libertarian philosophy on the matter, refuses to give in to the notion that I’d rather have our government in charge of regulating most anything, and how the power of the dollar is most effective when it is in the hands of people who need to wield it as a weapon, instead of sitting back and just accepting the things they don’t like.

    The ONLY way monopolies are created, are with the help and consent of the government. Maybe if we had a TRULY FREE MARKET, we’d be able to feel more confident, that people would stop being fluoridated zombies, and instead realize THEY have ALL of the power. If a company does a practice with which you and others dislike and disagree with, you MUST boycott that company, and refuse to support them.

    If, however, you find that it is only you (in the proverbial sense, meaning the practices are FINE with the majority and you, perhaps unfortunately, find yourself in the minority on it) it requires you to then do as you claim, and accept DEMOCRACY, which is nothing more than submitting to the will of the majority.

    If, however, a company is grossly negatively affected, because the majority of its consumers are unhappy with its services, and are WILLING TO SHOW IT THROUGH THE PURCHASING POWER OF DOLLARS, then a company has only two options… bend to the will of its consumers and immediately cease activity, OR it can go out of business. If you don’t believe that other ISP’s will spring forth, if a company is unwilling to meet the demand requirements of its people, in order to fill any voids that are there in the market to be had and taken advantage of, then what you are suddenly realizing, is that the market isn’t FREE, we are living in fascistic state created by our tolerance of all that is wrong with an incestuous relationship with government and business, and instead of finding ways to continue those practices… perhaps we should do what is right and REVOLT.

    I’m sick and tired of people not willing to break from the teats of the bull we find ourselves suckling from, and instead want to moan and writhe while continuing the charade. I’m of the opinion that sometimes if people like you are correct, maybe it is better to inflict pain upon the people in order to bring about a resolution that rips us out the other side, instead of allowing the baby to stay in the womb for 13 months.

    “Aren’t they supposed to work for us?” They may work for you, but they’ve hardly ever been there to work for me. So I always side with the approach that says the only way to start the birthing process, is to get government the hell out of business. Only then, will our masters become more obvious, and we can stop with the silly notion that ANYONE “works for “Us.”

  • It sounds great on in a comment section of a football article, good luck getting people to boycott the internet. And you typed all that, another monopoly was created in the form whe Disney just purchasing Fox on the eve they are about to break box offices records yet again. Wait and see what happens with your mighty weapon tucked away in its sheath neatly stored in a shoe box under your mattress, others are out there submitting for you. The American people are too self absorded to open a door for someone else, much less ban together to affect change. They got their face glued to their smartphones which already tell the government everything they need to know about us.

  • Darth Blount 47

    It’s a sad reality, indeed.

    But just don’t believe that the people in Washington DC, whose ONLY motivation is to get elected and re-elected ad nauseum, so they can collect lifetime benefits, have your best interest at heart for a single second either. For if they did, they wouldn’t assassinate our leaders, send our children off to die in nefarious wars, lie, cheat, and steal from us, endlessly raid our troves, and form those incestuous relationships with corporations that I mentioned earlier, while also desperately attempting to maintain the shroud of “choice” that has people forever stuck in a left-right paradigm. Sure, they’d have you believe it was “Us or Them,” and it turns out in a sickly ironic way, it actually is Us or Them, just not in the way they intended it to be framed.

    The Framers had a notion that if left unchecked by the populous, the tyrannical nature of men under the cloak of “government,” would turn ugly and dictatorial, and here we sit today wondering how we got so far down the barrel. Thomas Jefferson said it best about having to replenish the tree of liberty.

    I admit, relying on the people to stand up anymore is a perilous notion. But I also refuse to be the one who actively participates in cutting more of their legs out from under them — just because it’s easier or seemingly more noble. Anything that gives the power to the people to decide, even if foolhardy, is more palatable to me than relying on centralized power to save the day. If people feel abandoned or abused by the things they spend their money on, either commit those funds to other enterprises, or start up new and better ones. Stop abdicating the power to those representing themselves over their constituents.

    Maybe people should stop spending their money on The Perversely Magical World of Disney.

    But if the fights are already lost, why worry so much, and maybe take the Jim Morrison approach of: “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, man… I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I just wanna have my kicks before the whole shi*house goes up in flames. Alright! ALRIGHT!”

  • will

    No. Fist why do you ALWAYS throw insults? That is childish. I am asking a question because I do not know the answer.

  • Instead of asking, do so research and form your own opinion.

  • will

    Asking you is part of my research. Are you not a good source of information?