It is no secret that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is in the midst of a down year. However, head coach Bill Belichick does not undermine what he brings to the table.

There is plenty of speculation regarding Gronkowski's performance in the 2018 NFL season. According to Sam Quinn of 247 Sports, Belichick attributed his modest production to the fact that opposing defenses are keying on him:

“I mean, I’m not really sure exactly what we’re talking about here. I mean, there’s plenty of games this year where he gets a lot of double coverage. I mean, they don’t double him on every play. They don’t double anybody on every play. Nobody gets doubled on every play that I’ve seen. So, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I don’t know. You’d have to ask him about that.”

Belichick added that Gronkowski's mere presence makes the Patriots' offense better.

“I mean, he’s a good player. It’s obvious that it helps to have him out on the field. He’s one of our best players. So, of course it helps us when he’s out there.”

There is no question that Gronkowski has established himself as the NFL's top tight end when healthy. A player of his caliber is often a top priority for opposing defenses every week. Although facing double-coverage is nothing new for him, it has seemingly taken a toll on his production this year. He has registered just 29 receptions for 448 yards and a touchdown thus far.

Gronkowski's struggles can largely be attributed to New England's struggles on offense as a whole. They are far from the high-powered group they used to be. Quarterback Tom Brady threw just one touchdown in three games heading into the bye. Perhaps the week off will help Brady and the Patriots' offense get back on track after their recent rough stretch.