Give Gronk this; he’ll probably be better than Dan Marino ever was.
Still, Patriot fans hoping to witness Rob Gronkowski at his most unfiltered in his new role as Fox football analyst would be privy to tune in right out of the gate. After Thursday night’s debut, it is anybody’s guess how quickly the muzzle comes down from the execs in Hollywood or Park Ave.
OK, so maybe it won’t exactly be a gag order, as even the stiffest of suits has to understand Gronkowski’s appeal to its football audience, whether it bleeds Patriot colors or not. But it stands to reason that after Gronkowski likely stumbles his way through his debut prior to Thursday’s Giants-Patriots tilt, there’s due to be some “grooming.”
Think “My Fair Lady,” Gronk-style. The network would even be wise to consider putting that transformational process together as its own programming.
Either way, Gronkowski’s tenure with Fox has the chance to be spectacular. Success or Failure.
Gronkowski’s engaging personality — both with the red light on and behind closed doors — gives him the possibility to transform the analyst role entirely. This isn’t like Jason Witten exposing himself into a role in which he had zero preparation. Gronkowski’s role will be one of playing the sidecar at first, but slowly emerging into something more than “Gronk say something funny.” It’s going to be must-see TV to watch the transformation. Witten’s wooden TV personality sealed his fate long before his disastrous run on Monday Night Football.
But there’s only going to be one chance to catch Gronk’s baby steps in his new role before the focus group results come knocking.
This week’s predictions:
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times: Patriots (-17). “The Giants happen to have a veteran quarterback on their bench who knows a thing or two about beating the Patriots in big games, but letting Jones — who has been far less sharp in his second and third starts than he was in his first — get an up-close look at the best the N.F.L. has to offer will probably be a good thing in the long run, provided his confidence can survive.”
Paul Schwartz, New York Post: Patriots 34, Giants 9. “Bill Belichick got his NFL coaching start with the Giants and continues to hold the franchise in high regard, so perhaps there is some mercy in his heart. It is hard to envision rookie Daniel Jones getting more than 10 points against this defense and difficult to imagine Tom Brady not getting at least 30. So, in what scenario do the Giants keep it close?”
Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Patriots. “The Daniel Jones hype train is about to come to a fast halt. Expect a few nice plays and athletic throws, but asking a rookie quarterback to compete (with less than a full complement of weapons) on a short week vs. a (great) Bill Belichick defense is, well, too much to ask.”
ESPN staff: All Patriots.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 31, Giants 10. “Bill Belichick is 11-0 against rookie passers at home in his Patriots career. That will make for a tough challenge for Daniel Jones and the Giants. Belichick and his talented secondary will throw a ton of looks at the rookie and he will make mistakes. Pats take it.”
CBS Sports staff: All Pats (New England -16.5).
Todd Haislop, Sporting News: Patriots 34, Giants 13. “This isn’t the matchup Daniel Jones needs to reverse his downward trend after his breakout against Tampa Bay a few weeks ago. On the other hand, with the Giants unlikely to contend for anything postseason-related this year, a date with the Patriots — in Foxboro in front of a national audience, no less — is a good chance for the rookie quarterback to learn some valuable early-career lessons. Against New York’s defense, Tom Brady will gladly set an example for the youngster.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 31, Giants 10.
MassLive staff: All Pats.
Five Thirty Eight: Patriots with a 90 percent chance (-15).
Cameron DaSilva, USA Today: Patriots 34, Giants 14. “The Patriots looked shaky against the Bills two weeks ago, but Buffalo is a better team than many thought at that point. New England won’t take the Giants lightly, even in this favorable matchup. Take the PATRIOTS -16.5 (-121) because this one won’t be close. The Giants simply don’t have the offensive playmakers to keep up with New England, especially with the Patriots’ defense playing as well as it has.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: “Patriots. By. A million. (It’s actually going to be very windy in Foxboro, so it’s more like Patriots by 22. That’s just far less dramatic, though.)”