Ahead of their AFC Championship rematch, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says he and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey haven’t been in touch.
“I don’t have his number,” Gronkowski told reporters at Gillette Stadium Wednesday. “And he doesn’t have mine.”
But Gronkowski doesn’t have to hear from Ramsey directly to know the 23-year-old has been talking about him behind his back. Ramsey, who the Jaguars drafted 5th overall in 2016, has been unabashedly vocal about his criticisms of Gronkowski’s game, most recently telling ESPN’s Mina Kimes he doesn’t think “Gronk’s good.”
“I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is,” Ramsey told Kimes.
Before New England took on Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game last season, Ramsey had Jaguars analytics staffers fetch some statistics on Gronkowski. According to Ramsey, any time Gronkowski has been matched up with a corner, the corner has had “a very good game,” while Gronkowski has had “a very bad game.” As Kimes noted, Gronkowski’s catch rate drops from 71 percent to 56 percent when lined up in the slot as opposed to the perimeter.
“That’s some good percentages, still,” Gronkowski said Wednesday. “I don’t really go into statistics like that. I’ve just got to play ball. That’s basically all. I’ve got to come out and play ball.”
Ramsey also said Gronkowski did “literally nothing” during the AFC Championship. He had told reporters prior to the game he has an advantage over Gronkowski in “everything,” saying, “Gronk hasn’t played a corner like me before.”
“I mean, if that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels,” Gronkowski said. “It’s a big game this Sunday — we’re playing them. I’m sure I’m going to have opportunities to go versus him. I’m sure he’s going to have opportunities to go versus me. I’m just preparing like I always prepare. I’ve got to just do my job out on the field.”
Gronkowski said comments like Ramsey’s can be motivating, but he’s not going to worry about them too much. He called trash talk “just part of the game” as well as “part of being an athlete,” while stressing he’s focused on just doing his job. If Ramsey were to diss Gronkowski on the field Sunday, Gronkowski said he wouldn’t respond. He’s fully prepared, however, to withstand the verbal hits.
“There can always be talking going back and forth, tempers getting heated up and everything,” Gronkowski said. “You just got to keep your cool, and I don’t see any benefit to getting a 15-yard penalty out on the field because you lose your cool. So, you’ve just got to keep your cool and keep your head on straight.”
Ramsey’s critical commentary hasn’t been limited to Gronkowski. Among his abundance of slights? Former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola is “terrible.”
“He just got a brand-new contract [two years, $12 million] and he is terrible,” Ramsey told Kimes. “People think he’s so great. No, he’s not. Tom [Brady] made him look good. Tom could take me as a receiver and I’d be a first-team All-Pro.”
Brady was one of the few NFL players who was spared of the ruthless attacks. The five-time Super Bowl champion “doesn’t suck,” according to Ramsey.
“I never want to suck, so I don’t want to be in that category,” Brady said Wednesday.
The 41-year-old returned the praise, perhaps a bit more eloquently.
“He’s a great player,” Brady said. “He’s very talented — big, fast, very rare talents, rare abilities, size, speed. They match him up with the top receiver from time-to-time, and he holds his own versus everybody. So, he’s a great young player.”