Gronk...the most important (non-QB) player in the NFL

Kenny F'ing Powers

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There.
 
I said it.
 
Although, I'm not the first.
 
 
Among non-quarterbacks on offense, Gronkowski is the single biggest difference-maker in the NFL. Since entering the league in 2010, he leads the league in red-zone touchdowns, quarterback-to-receiver completion percentage and yards after catch.
Players of Gronk's size (6-foot-6, 265) aren't supposed to be able to bend over in mid-stride and pluck a fastball off the carpet like he did on this spectacular 23-yard touchdown grab last week.
http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000292820/article/tom-brady-rob-gronkowski-give-patriots-top-offense
 
What has his impact been on the offense? Pulling from a bleacher report article (which used Pro-Football-Reference.com for their numbers):
 

 
What's even more interesting is that the average points allowed for the first 6 teams they faced was 23.5, while the average points allowed from the 6 teams they've faced since Gronk has been back is 22.7. In other words, the defenses the Patriots have played since Gronk has been back have, on average, been better than before he came back.
 
Of course, some of this can be attributed to getting a healthy Amendola back, and Brady building chemistry with the younger receivers. Still, Gronk's presence can't be ignored.
 
 
Their red-zone offense has improved by over 27 percentage points since Gronkowski has returned. The tight end has caught three of Brady's eight red-zone touchdown passes in the past six games, but as we saw on Sunday, his presence has even helped others to get free.
 
They then go on to show the quad-covered Gronk on the wide open Vereen TD against Houston.
 
What I'm saying is...remember all those discussions about "Who's better, Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski"? I'll let Bob Ryan answer that question:
 
 
The Boston Globe's estimable Bob Ryan opined Sunday that no tight end in history -- not Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe or John Mackey -- could match Gronkowski at this point in his career.
 
He's not lying.
 
Fuck that noise.
 
Is there a more important non-QB player in the NFL than Rob Gronkowski?
 

DJnVa

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Also from that article:
 
For all of the early-season handwringing over the loss of Wes Welker, Edelman has the "Slot Machine" beat in receptions (70 to 68) and the two are nearly identical in yards (711 to 717) through 12 games.
 
 

Mooch

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The only guy who comes close is Calvin Johnson.  The Lions offense against Green Bay without Megatron was Jets-level awful.
 

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It is definitely close between Johnson and Gronk, because Gronk offers more than just pass-catching. He's arguably the best pass-catching and the probably the best run-blocking Tight End in the NFL. I'm not well-versed enough to know if he's the only such TE in NFL history to have that distinction, but I can't think if another TE that reaches his skill set in the last 25 years. Johnson is a freak as well, no doubt about, but I don't think a simple receiving yards comparison does the trick. Peterson is another guy that belongs in the conversation, but it's easier to stop RB, especially when the surrounding offense sucks a lemur's eyelids. Josh Gordon is moving his way up the list as well. If we're talking recent NFL history, nobody tops Moss from my perspective, and I believed that far before he ever joined my most favoritest team.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Mooch said:
The only guy who comes close is Calvin Johnson.  The Lions offense against Green Bay without Megatron was Jets-level awful.
 
Was it?
 
Stafford had a 90 QB rating, the team had more 1st downs than Green Bay and ran the same amount of plays despite having the ball for 5 minutes less. Hell, 5 of their 10 drives were 8 plays or more. They could get the chains moving, they just stalled out. I wouldn't say that's "Jets-level awful".
 

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Dgilpin said:
Calvin Johnson... and its not even close
 
Do you have anything more to offer than a conclusory statement?
 
I don't really care about a Gronk/Megatron argument, but this is downright boring.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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No kidding.
 
I find it interesting that people will go straight to Calvin Johnson. At least AP has carried crappy teams on his back. As great as Johnson is (and he is great) his teams have won 29 of 112 (26%) of his games. As the best player on his team (or best non-QB), his teams have gone through a zero win season in 2008, a 2 win season in 2009, a 6 win season in 2010, and a 4 win season in 2012 (last year).
 
I didn't say that Gronk was the most talented or impressive player in the NFL. I also understand that Megatron doesn't play defense, QB, etc. But I'm curious how important he is when the team sucks regardless of how he performs on the field.
 
I also think this is a matter of position. By playing TE, Gronk is able to control 75% of the field (middle, deep seems, out routes), while Johnson can realistically only control 50%. This has to open up more receivers around the field.
 
This also says nothing about his ability to line up on the line and help block. The team averaged 4.15 YPC (120 Yards a game) without Gronk. In November with Gronk back, they averaged 4.6 YPC (140 yards per game).
 
Again, I don't see any discussion about Gronk being a more talented/athletic player than Johnson. I see plenty that say he's more important to his teams success.
 

Dgilpin

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Mystic Merlin said:
 
Do you have anything more to offer than a conclusory statement?
 
I don't really care about a Gronk/Megatron argument, but this is downright boring.
 
Well its kind of tough since Johnson has missed 1 game in the last 2 years, so its hard to gauge the Lions offense without him. However the game this year against GB they really couldn't do anything, they did rack up a few Drives in garbage time which skews the stats KFP posted. Here's their drive chart from that game:
 
             Time            Plays Yards
15:00 1 05:38 DET 20 9        35 Punt
01:24 1 00:59 DET 21 3         -4 Punt
11:19 2 02:15 DET 20 4        14 Punt
03:47 2 03:32 DET 11 13      54 Field Goal
12:35 3 05:01 DET 20 8       19 Punt
05:04 3 00:49 DET 20 3        3 Punt
03:12 3 03:12 DET 20 6       34 Punt
10:16 4 03:15 DET 20 10     50 Downs
03:50 4 01:44 DET 20 8       80 Touchdown
00:17 4 00:17 DET 10 1 -1 End of Game
 

Dgilpin

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Kenny F'ing Powers said:
No kidding.
 
I find it interesting that people will go straight to Calvin Johnson. At least AP has carried crappy teams on his back. As great as Johnson is (and he is great) his teams have won 29 of 112 (26%) of his games. As the best player on his team (or best non-QB), his teams have gone through a zero win season in 2008, a 2 win season in 2009, a 6 win season in 2010, and a 4 win season in 2012 (last year).
 
I didn't say that Gronk was the most talented or impressive player in the NFL. I also understand that Megatron doesn't play defense, QB, etc. But I'm curious how important he is when the team sucks regardless of how he performs on the field.
 
I also think this is a matter of position. By playing TE, Gronk is able to control 75% of the field (middle, deep seems, out routes), while Johnson can realistically only control 50%. This has to open up more receivers around the field.
 
This also says nothing about his ability to line up on the line and help block. The team averaged 4.15 YPC (120 Yards a game) without Gronk. In November with Gronk back, they averaged 4.6 YPC (140 yards per game).
 
Again, I don't see any discussion about Gronk being a more talented/athletic player than Johnson. I see plenty that say he's more important to his teams success.
 
 
However haven't the Pats achieved an almost equal amount of success without him on the field. I agree Gronk helps in many different areas, however he isn't the focal point of an offense like Johnson is to the Lions.
 

Stitch01

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JJ Watt belongs in this conversation, Geno Atkins probably did last year. 
 
Completely different offense with Gronk back and Im pleasantly shocked how close to 100% effective he has been.  His career ceiling really is greatest TE of all time and first ballot HOF.
 

PedrosRedGlove

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Dgilpin said:
However haven't the Pats achieved an almost equal amount of success without him on the field. I agree Gronk helps in many different areas, however he isn't the focal point of an offense like Johnson is to the Lions.
The motivation for this thread was how much better the Patriots offense has been since Gronk re-entered the line up. So no, they haven't had the same success, and as long as Gronk has been on the team, they've struggled in his absence. ('11 Super Bowl(a severely limited Gronk, last year's playoffs)

Also he led the team in targets his first game back from injury, there are other talented weapons, but he is absolutely the focal point of this offense.

Edit: I think you may mean W-L wise the Pats haven't been worse off, which may or may not be true, (they probably have better luck in the postseason with a healthy Gronk) but I don't think that's so important when there is such a big difference in the offensive numbers.
 

Dgilpin

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PedrosRedGlove said:
The motivation for this thread was how much better the Patriots offense has been since Gronk re-entered the line up. So no, they haven't had the same success, and as long as Gronk has been on the team, they've struggled in his absence. ('11 Super Bowl(a severely limited Gronk, last year's playoffs)

Also he led the team in targets his first game back from injury, there are other talented weapons, but he is absolutely the focal point of this offense.
 
I was speaking in terms of wins and losses, which was how KFP compared Calvin's effect on the Lions
 

bowiac

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Polamalu has been worth about 2 points per game to the Steelers defense over his career. Since becoming a fulltime starter, over 82 games, they've allowed 16.3 points per game with him on the field, and 18.3 without him on the field. That represents a pretty big difference in terms of chances of winning.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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bowiac said:
Polamalu has been worth about 2 points per game to the Steelers defense over his career. Since becoming a fulltime starter, over 82 games, they've allowed 16.3 points per game with him on the field, and 18.3 without him on the field. That represents a pretty big difference in terms of chances of winning.
 
 
Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
The Patriots have averaged +12 PPG with Gronk on the field this year.
 
Gronk waves his dick at Polamalu's +2 PPG.
 

DanoooME

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What are the same numbers for 2012?  He missed 5 games, plus the playoffs right?  Might as well get a full sample size.
 
I'd have to do some research, but it wouldn't surprise me that one of the Smiths on SF might have a good argument too.  It seemed like when one of them was out, their D wasn't nearly effective.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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DanoooME said:
What are the same numbers for 2012?  He missed 5 games, plus the playoffs right?  Might as well get a full sample size.
 
I'd have to do some research, but it wouldn't surprise me that one of the Smiths on SF might have a good argument too.  It seemed like when one of them was out, their D wasn't nearly effective.
 
Yeah. You might as well get a full sample size.
 
Edit: Don't worry you lazy prick, I looked for you.
 
The team averaged 34.2 points a game without him, 35.1 with him. Basically +1 with him on the field.
 

PedrosRedGlove

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Yea I added an edit when I realized the tone of what you were saying. I don't agree with that point either though, they've had the same regular season success record wise. However the team is clearly a more dynamic and powerful offense with Gronk on the field, and their postseason success recently has hinged on Gronk's health.

Even this year when the team played well without Gronk, the only reason they got through that stretch is because the defense was playing the best it had in years before Wilfork and Mayo went down.
 

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Field Yates touched on this as well today
 
http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4754608/gronk-patriots-offense-are-back
 
Patriots' Ranks -- This Season   Weeks 1-6 Weeks 7-13 PPG 22nd 2nd Red zone eff 30th 5th Pass YPG 19th 6th 1st downs PG 16th 1st Total QBR 15th 3rd
>>Rob Gronkowski returned Week 7
 
Patriots with Rob Gronkowski On/Off Field This Season   On Off Comp pct 64.4 58.0<< Yds per att 7.5 6.5 Total QBR 71.1 55.0 >>48.5 pct in red zone (64 pct on field)
 
Rob Gronkowski- Since Week 7     Next Highest?<< Targets 61 48 (A. Gates) Rec 37 31 (J. Graham & H. Miller) Rec yds 560 395 (J. Graham) 1st downs 29 21 (J. Graham & J. Reed) >>Among TE
 
Edit: no clue how to table-ize
 

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Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
 
 
The Patriots have averaged +12 PPG with Gronk on the field this year.
 
Gronk waves his dick at Polamalu's +2 PPG.
 
Don't give him any ideas
 

H78

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We need to trade Mallett for Megatron. Gronk and Megatron = trophies. Big ones.
 

Dehere

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Polamalu has been worth about 2 points per game to the Steelers defense over his career. Since becoming a fulltime starter, over 82 games, they've allowed 16.3 points per game with him on the field, and 18.3 without him on the field. That represents a pretty big difference in terms of chances of winning.


How'd you come up with that? This is his 11th year and 10th as the starter so that count of 82 games seems low.

Directionally I agree with you. When he was in his 20s he was incredibly impactful. Since he hit 30 I've actually thought the PIT defense would be better with him off the field.
 

KiltedFool

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From the initial link:
Among non-quarterbacks on offense
 
 
Polamalu, JJ Watt, Geno Atkins don't belong in the conversation as initially formulated. 
 
And reading the initial link in the "single biggest difference maker" that comes off to me as which offensive player that is not a QB do you immediately say "they're fucked" when that player is carted off? 
 
e: I realize KFP extended the initial "on offense" to all players.
 

bowiac

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DanoooME said:
I'd have to do some research, but it wouldn't surprise me that one of the Smiths on SF might have a good argument too.  It seemed like when one of them was out, their D wasn't nearly effective.
I was going to run this analysis on the Smiths, but neither of them have much of a useful sample size. What makes Polamalu ripe for this sort of +/- analysis is that he's started only about 50% of games. The Smiths have only missed a couple games here and there, so the data will be all noise.
 

bowiac

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Dehere said:
How'd you come up with that? This is his 11th year and 10th as the starter so that count of 82 games seems low.

Directionally I agree with you. When he was in his 20s he was incredibly impactful. Since he hit 30 I've actually thought the PIT defense would be better with him off the field.
I went to his game log, put into an excel sheet, pulled the number of points allowed by the Steelers in his games, then compared that to how many points were allowed by the Steelers generally, and calculated the averages.
 

bowiac

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However, Dehere is correct that since the 2011 season (when he turned 30), Polamalu's +/- effect totally vanishes. 18.68 points per game with him, and 18.61 points overall. 
 
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Wouldn't it be better to look at the average where he was in games vs the average when he wasn't in games, as opposed to vs the average of all games?
 

bowiac

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MentalDisabldLst said:
Wouldn't it be better to look at the average where he was in games vs the average when he wasn't in games, as opposed to vs the average of all games?
That's what the 16.3 vs. 18.3 figure is for his overall career. It's 16.3 when he plays, and 18.3 when he doesn't.
 
When I did the sub-sample of since turning 30, since the number when he plays is almost identical to the overall average, I didn't bother splitting it.
 

bowiac

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The pre/post turning 30 thing is interesting as well, in that before turning 30, they were 14.55 points per game with him, and 18.70 without him
 

TomRicardo

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Dgilpin said:
Calvin Johnson... and its not even close
 
Eh, besides the fact Gronkowski is an amazing run blocker Gronkowski has only caught three less TD pass than Megatron while missing what amounts to almost a full season.  Healthy Gronk averages almost TD/GS and 14.4 Y/R.
 
If it wasn't for health I wouldn't trade a Gronk for Megatron
 

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Gronk and Calvin are both really fucking good. An argument over who means more to their team seems kind of pointless to me.
 
Since we are just throwing names out now, I think Luke Kuechly deserves some consideration. What he has been able to do from a MLB position has been tremendous.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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Kliq said:
Gronk and Calvin are both really fucking good. An argument over who means more to their team seems kind of pointless to me.
 
Since we are just throwing names out now, I think Luke Kuechly deserves some consideration. What he has been able to do from a MLB position has been tremendous.
 
OK. We won't miss you from this thread.
 

FL4WL3SS

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Don't we need to take into account who is throwing the ball to these guys. I feel like we'd be talking about Megatron the same way we're talking about Gronk if they were on opposite teams. Brady would make Megatron look even better than he does with Stafford throwing to him.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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FO recently pointed out that Denver's defense was 29th in the league in DVOA before the return of Von Miller and has been 7th in the league since then. As with all these scenarios, its a SSS and there are other changes in play as well, but that's still a pretty ridiculous turnaround.
 

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Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
Yeah. You might as well get a full sample size.
 
Edit: Don't worry you lazy prick, I looked for you.
 
The team averaged 34.2 points a game without him, 35.1 with him. Basically +1 with him on the field.
 
No I'm not lazy.  Well, maybe.
 
I was too busy calculating the myriad of options the Seahawks have to deal with in the playoffs and their potential success rates.
 

deconstruction

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Kenny F'ing Powers said:
 
Yeah. You might as well get a full sample size.
 
Edit: Don't worry you lazy prick, I looked for you.
 
The team averaged 34.2 points a game without him, 35.1 with him. Basically +1 with him on the field.
 
You included defensive and special teams TDs.
 
Offense scored 31.1 points/game with him, 31.4 points/game without.
 

quint

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a really good source
phragle said:
Defensive players are more important than non-QB offensive players
Really now? Is this a statistical stance you're taking or is there a logical argument you're attempting to make?

Think carefully, there may be a test later.
 

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quint said:
Really now? Is this a statistical stance you're taking or is there a logical argument you're attempting to make?

Think carefully, there may be a test later.
 
Can't tell if serious
 

quint

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quint said:
Really now? Is this a statistical stance you're taking or is there a logical argument you're attempting to make?

Think carefully, there may be a test later.
 
No, I'm fairly serious. I'm don't really have a dog in the fight one way or the other, I mean one could make an argument for any positional player - depending on the player, I'm just legitimately curious as to your viewpoint on this. I mean, you made the statement.
 
Think of it as an open exchange of interesting ideas.
 

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quint said:
 
No, I'm fairly serious. I'm don't really have a dog in the fight one way or the other, I mean one could make an argument for any positional player - depending on the player, I'm just legitimately curious as to your viewpoint on this. I mean, you made the statement.
 
Think of it as an open exchange of interesting ideas.
 
If the importance of the offense and the defense are about equal, but the quarterback is by far the most important player on the team, then the remaining 10 offensive players are less important on average than the defensive players.
 

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phragle said:
 
If the importance of the offense and the defense are about equal, but the quarterback is by far the most important player on the team, then the remaining 10 offensive players are less important on average than the defensive players.
 
Well, importance is not spread equally among players other than the QB.
 
Actually, it would be sort of interesting to try estimate importance for all positions on both sides of the ball.  Really hard though. I wouldn't even know where to start. And then you get into weird issues like team composition. I.e. if the best, say RB and reciever were  on the same team, their relative important would probably depend on QB quality a bit.
 

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deconstruction said:
 
You included defensive and special teams TDs.
 
Offense scored 31.1 points/game with him, 31.4 points/game without.
 
 
phragle said:
Defensive players are more important than non-QB offensive players
 
Both good points, an overstated claim in this thread based on an isolated SSS this season with a ton of noise. What has also not been mentioned is Gronk's injuries -- you can't be the most important non-QB if you've played 6 games out of 12 games. Long term, that he's ( missed regular season and playoff games in previous years causes worry.
 
That said, no need to be churlish -- when on the field he's a man among (very big) boys and I would take him on a per game basis over Megatron.
 

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BucketOBalls said:
 
Well, importance is not spread equally among players other than the QB.
 
Actually, it would be sort of interesting to try estimate importance for all positions on both sides of the ball.  Really hard though. I wouldn't even know where to start. And then you get into weird issues like team composition. I.e. if the best, say RB and reciever were  on the same team, their relative important would probably depend on QB quality a bit.
 
The easiest way to do this is to look at average salary by position.  That tells you what the market thinks the most important positions are.  
 
The average salary ranking is QB, DE, DL, WR, OL, NT, C, CB, LB, K, RB, TE, FB, P, LS.  (http://www.besttickets.com/blog/unofficial-2013-nfl-census/)
 
The ranking in terms of the average of top 5 salaries at each position (which tells you more what elite talent is worth): DE, QB, OT, WR, CB, LB, S, RB, DT, TE, G, C, K, P.  (http://www.businessinsider.com/nfls-highest-paid-positions-sports-chart-of-the-day-2012-9)