Bill Belichick has his methods and rarely feels compelled to explain just what’s going on under the hoodie, but the injury tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered Sunday was an exception.
Belichick was second-guessed persistently after Gronkowski broke his arm on an extra-point attempt that gave the New England Patriots their 59th point in a 59-24 victory. He underwent surgery Monday and is expected to be out 4-to-8 weeks, prompting Belichick to explain why Gronk was in the game at that point.
“You only have so many players. You only dress so many players,” he said on WEEI Radio’s “Big Show.” “Somebody’s got to play. I think you’ve got to be careful when you’re trying to run a team, to go up to one guy and say, ‘Michael, we’re going to leave you in the game because we care about you, but Glenn, we’re going to take you out because you’re really important. You other guys go in there because if something happens to you, we don’t really care.’
“Again, I think football players play football. I don’t know how — you tell me which guy is going to get hurt and I’ll get him out of there. I don’t know how you do that.”
Gronkowski, who has been in for 93 percent of the Patriots’ offensive plays, was not on the field for the last scoring drive, however.
“I think in terms of Rob, the end of the game gave us an opportunity to play [Visanthe] Shiancoe, who didn’t play for half the season. He had an opportunity to get some more reps,” said Belichick. “Some guys that had less playing time, it was a good opportunity to get them in there. I didn’t see anything wrong with that.
“At the same time, I can just hear it now, if somebody else was in at wing [on the point-after attempt] who wasn’t used to playing for the field goal team, a guy came around the edge and dove in there, somebody, the holder or kicker got torn up, it would have been, ‘Why was he in there? Why wouldn’t you go with the same guys doing it the whole game?’ We can play that game all day. As long as you know what the results are, then you always have the right argument. But, like I said, players are prepared to play for 60 minutes. The game is 60 minutes long. If you can take a guy out or want to take a guy out for a reason, you can do that, but guys have got to play.”