There is an article here in MHR called Any ideas on how to stop Gronk? that made me think about some ideas to answer it. Thank you boanst (the author), since thinking about football strategies always help me to relieve the stress of my work. Ok, I think I now have a plan I'd like to share with you dudes. My plan includes not only stopping Gronkowski but a defense gameplan to try to stop Tom Brady.
First of all the New England Patriots don't have a great rushing game. Don't get me wrong, I like the duo Green-Ellis, + Woodhead, but the fact is that their scheme is not built for them to pound the rock. They have an elite QB (I'm sure he will be a HOFer) and they just need to explore it with their WRs and catching TEs. That simple.
That said now it's time to verify if I got nuts, or if my defense gameplan could work:
Champ Bailey vs Wes Welker. Yes, I'll start putting my best CB facing their best WR 1-on-1. I really think Bailey can shut him down without help. Our decade Pro Bowler has done it before against better WRs, so I'm confident matching up this single coverage here.
Andre Goodman vs Deion Branch. In this case, no way in a single coverage. Goodman had a concussion last game, but if he misses this game, just place his replacement here - likely Wilhite. Of course this matchup could be explored the whole day without further help. So my plan is to put our best ball skilled safety Rahim Moore (I'm ok if it's Quinton Carter) patrolling this side to help Goodman.
DJ Williams vs Aaron Hernandez. Yes, I think they will use a 2 TE / 2 WR several times and in this case I'd put DJ facing Aaron. He isn't Briggs, ok, but with Moore patrolling this side of the filed to give a help, it can be done.
Now the key matchup: Chris Harris vs Rob Gronkowski. Our young UDFA to stop Gronk? Are you serious, Fabio? Yes, he is good in coverage and our best tackling CB, but Bailey. And he can also have a little help by Dawkins (or the replacing SS). The problem is: to use this nickel formation several downs, we would have to bench Joe Mays. But I'm ok with that, since we can put him back on the field when they use a 2 HB formation.
Another possibility to build this working nickel, would be having a very hybrid defense mixing my scheme with another one that would be stepping up Wesley Woodyard or Mario Haggan as our SLB and sliding Von Miller to LDE in a false 3-4 package. I'm sure coach Dennis Allen is a wise man, capable of making creative blitz packages with this formation.
Our pass rushing will have a very important role by hurring Tom Brady. If Gisele's husband has a week to throw... oh, we are in trouble. That's why our defensive line also needs to step up and make an outstanding pressure job by collapsing the pocket and eventually hitting the QB. Sorry about the poor drawing techniques, but I did my best trying to illustrate it here with not much available time: