In every game against the Patriots, limiting Rob Gronkowski's production is a priority for the opposing defense.
But just how vital is it?
Probably more vital than you think. Check Tom Brady's splits when throwing and not throwing to Gronkowski this season:
Brady's 2017 statistics throwing to Gronkowski:
Yards Per Attempt: 10.36
QB Rating: 115.0
Brady's 2017 statistics when throwing to players other than Gronkowski:
Yards Per Attempt: 7.52
QB Rating: 101.4
A season ago, Brady completed 24 of 35 passes to Gronkowski for 529 yards (15.1 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns and no interceptions. That equated to an astounding 139.8 passer rating.
On throws not intended for Gronkowski, his passer rating was 108.7, and he had a yards-per-attempt average of 7.61, essentially half the yards per attempt Brady averaged when throwing to the future Hall of Fame tight end.
Of course, Brady has still been a top-level quarterback when he's not passing to Gronkowski, but relatively speaking, he's been ridiculously efficient on throws to the 6-foot-6 tight end.
Earlier this season against the Bills, Gronkowski had nine receptions for 147 yards with one interception on 11 targets. That equated to a passer rating of 80.8.
Brady's passer rating on non-Gronkowski targets in that contest was 79.0 -- nearly identical to his figure on targets to the tight end, however, there was a major disparity in the yards-per-attempt department.
Amassing 147 yards on 11 targets equates to a 13.3 YPA. Brady accumulated 111 yards on 19 passes not thrown in Gronkowski's direction, which equated to a YPA of 5.84.