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Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski connection is the best in the NFL over the past decade

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The Patriots have the best quarterback-receiver duo in the entire league.

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Earlier this offseason I noted that the return of TE Rob Gronkowski from injury is flying under the radar and listed the reasons why Gronkowski’s availability brings the New England Patriots offense to levels unparalleled in the league. Gronkowski is an incredible deep threat and red zone target, but at the heart of the argument was how much better QB Tom Brady performs with Gronkowski on the field.

Pro Football Focus also looked at the Gronkowski-Brady connection and highlighted Gronkowski’s incredible rate of production.

“Throughout their careers, Tom Brady averages a 133.7 passer rating when targeting Rob Gronkowski,” PFF Fantasy analyst Scott Barrett writes. “Over the past decade (min. 350 targets), no quarterback-to-receiver connection has yielded a higher passer rating.”

“Since the 1970 NFL merger there are 203 instances of a player recording at least 400 receptions over the course of their career,” Barrett adds. “Gronkowski leads all tight ends on this list in receiving yards per game (69.3) and receiving touchdowns per game (0.77.) Among all players, he ranks best in receiving touchdowns per game (next-closest is Randy Moss with 0.72) and 19th-best in receiving yards per game (only 0.8 behind Moss.) Of the 28 names on this list to join the NFL since targets became a statistic (1992), Gronkowski leads all players in yards per target average (9.88) and touchdown percentage (11.0 percent).”

Barrett also notes that Gronkowski is the most dominant red zone threat in the league and one of the most efficient receivers, too.

What helps make Gronkowski stand out is the relatively low number of targets he sees compared to other receivers. Falcons WR Julio Jones averages 96 yards per game, but he also fields nearly 10 targets per game. Steelers WR Antonio Brown and Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. both also see 9 or 10 targets per game.

Gronkowski only sees 7 targets per game and still manages to convert those opportunities into scores and yards. Perhaps Gronkowski could challenge those receivers in yards per game with three extra targets every week.

The addition of WR Brandin Cooks could end up limiting Gronkowski’s production, but there’s no question that the return of the tight end elevates the Patriots offense to incredible heights.