The New England Patriots needed roughly one yard on 4th down at the end of the game against the Seattle Seahawks in order to force overtime. The coaching staff drew up a back corner fade to TE Rob Gronkowski against SS Kam Chancellor.
The pass fell incomplete and it never really had a chance. It seemed like a questionable play call.
MassLive’s Kevin Duffy went to the tape to track the goal line success rate of other routes for Gronkowski in recent years. It turns out that the back corner fade to Gronkowski in isolation is only successful 50% of time and other routes have a much higher success rate.
The Patriots are 8 of 9 using Gronkowski on a slant route, although Chancellor specifically said he positioned his body to funnel Gronkowski to the outside. The offense is 7 of 9 when Gronkowski runs a corner fade out of the inline tight end position.
Duffy highlights a few other route patterns, which you should check out. But perhaps Brady should have called Gronkowski back inside to the inline position when he recognized that Chancellor and the linebacker were taking away the inside leverage- and that the fade from the inline position gives Gronkowski a lot more field to gain separation.