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Adam Schefter on D&C: Patriots ‘not nearly as formidable’ without Rob Gronkowski

12.09.13 at 10:03 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the potential season-ending injury suffered by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, and the team’s third straight come-from-behind victory on Sunday.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

New England scored 13 points in the final 2:39 and overcame a late 12-point deficit to defeat the Browns 27-26 at Gillette Stadium. But the win came with a gigantic loss in the big picture. Schefter reported that the team fears Gronkowski tore his ACL, an injury that will sideline him for the rest of the season.

“There have been some reports that it’s an ACL and an MCL,” Schefter said, adding: “When he’s out there, they average 32 points, without him there they average 20. They’re just a more dynamic offense, a more dangerous offense.”

The Patriots played the first six games of the season without Gronkowski, who was recovering from multiple offseason surgeries.

“They are not nearly as formidable without Gronk,” Schefter said. “This team has been resilient, it has been crafty, it has been incredibly lucky, remarkable, talented, clutch to come back the way that it has. To think that it could go beat a Denver or a Seattle without Gronk, I’m not going to say it can’t happen because it certainly can, but it just becomes that much more challenging to be able do without a guy like that.”

Gronkowski’s injury history in his young career is becoming extensive. He’s broken his arm multiple times, he’s had back issues in both college and the pros, and he just suffered perhaps the most serious injury of his football career.

“One of the knocks on Gronk, and the reason that he slipped to the second round to begin with, was a question of his health,” Schefter said, adding: “That was why someone as freakish as him was there in the second round.”

New England can partially credit its win to a controversial call. Cleveland cornerback Leon McFadden was whistled for pass interference in the end zone, a 29-yard penalty that resulted in the ball being placed at the 1-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Tom Brady and wide receiver Danny Amendola hooked up on the next play for a touchdown pass to complete the comeback. Schefter discussed the spot-of-the-foul pass interference rule in the NFL and contrasted it to college, where pass interference automatically results in a 15-yard penalty.

“I think the league is pretty comfortable with where it’s at with those rules, but it reserves the right to review all that during the offseason,” Schefter said.

Brady completed 32-of-52 passes for 417 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He now has 3,685 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season.

“Tom Brady has been really good, and really resilient,” Schefter said. “But I don’t view it as one of his better seasons overall. … It’s one of his most impressive seasons, but it’s not one of his best seasons.”

Last week, the Texans became the first team to fire a coach during the 2013 season as they canned long-time coach Gary Kubiak. With reports of serious tumult in the Redskins organization, Mike Shanahan could be next.

“Last Friday morning I woke up, I knew that Gary Kubiak was probably going to get fired that day. I tweeted at about 5:30, Gary Kubiak was on the clock,” Schefter said. “And I think Mike Shanahan is one the clock today.

Added Schefter: “It was a case where, basically, the relationship between [owner Dan] Snyder and Shanahan has disintegrated to the point where I think it’s fair to say right now that the atmosphere within that organization is toxic,” Schefter said.

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Fore more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

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