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Handling Tight Ends The Key To Stopping Patriots

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FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 21:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates his first touchdown with teammate  Tom Brady #12 at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 21: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates his first touchdown with teammate Tom Brady #12 at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Patriots do things a bit backwards on offense. Where most teams go downfield with their WRs and play the shorter, ball control game with their TEs, the Pats flip that around. They have no real deep threat at WR, but effectively use Wes Welker as a move the chanis type option. To stretch the field, they look to their two big TEs, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who 2nd and 3rd on the team in receptions respectively. Gronkowski averages a team leading 14.4 yards per catch and the pair have caught 15 TDs between them.

Andy Reid talked this week about their philosophy.

"I think you saw a couple years back that they changed a little bit on their film from the past game and they invested a lot, player-wise surrounding Tom with a lot of weapons. And when I said the two tight ends were a little different Hernandez is a guy that's kind of a tweener wide receiver, tight end type of player and Gronkowski's just big, he's bigger physically, and probably not quite as nimble but still uses his size to his advantage. So I think [Patriots head coach] Bill [Belichek] saw a lot of quality there and big targets that can move a little bit that are important for your quarterback."

I don't have to tell you how the Eagles have struggled with TEs over the years, so for a team to put two good ones on the field at once is obviously a tough proposition. It would be even tougher if Nnamdi Asomugha were not able to go this weekend after suffering a knee injury in practice yesterday.