Nov 29, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) catches a touchdown over New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
I try to be as impartial when writing about the Falcons as possible. I am a fan and I am optimistic, but I try to at least keep it realistic. I’m not going out of my way to tell you why Matt Ryan will score fifty touchdowns, or how the Falcons will go undefeated. But I will put this out there: I love Tony Gonzalez. I was extremely excited when he came to Atlanta in 2009, and I sang Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah all day when he announced he was returning for another year.
It’s not that he’s the legs of the entire team, or that without him; the Falcons wouldn’t go very far at all. It’s that he’s just a perfect player. Off the field, he’s a leader, friendly, and a great family man. In the locker room, he’s a leader, a friend to the players with a great sense of humor, and on the field, he’s an otherworldly game changer. Along with being the greatest Tight End to play the game, he’s a great personality and a man worth looking up to. In my opinion, he’s the perfect player. On top of all that, he just won’t quit. He’s on top of his game even in his 16th season showing no signs of aging. I’m pretty sure he could keep playing into his 40s. But like I said, he’s a family man.
Last year he caught 93 passes for 930 yards at 10 yards per catch with 8 touchdowns.
He is extremely reliable. If he can get his massive hands on it, he’ll end up with the ball. He also knows exactly where his feet are, how many times did he catch a pass in the corner of the end zone with his two feet just barely in bounds? I lost count a long time ago.
Another thing he does very well, however, is help Matt Ryan improve. When Ryan was young, Tony was there to catch the ball on third down, even if there wasn’t a whole lot of accuracy. He served as sort of a crutch. As Ryan improved, he used Tony more as a weapon than a fail-safe. This year, with a meaner and more improved quarterback, and a grand exit season for the star tight end, This will be the season of a career. Tony will no longer be a crutch for Matt Ryan. So I don’t think he’ll get as many as those last second third down throws because Matt will probably see other options with an equally improved Julio Jones and an equally productive Roddy White, but he’ll be an unstoppable force in the red-zone just like always.
Next year, I look for Tony G. to have 80 catches and 900 yards at 11.3 yards per catch. I see him getting 10 touchdowns this year, 5 of which will be only inches from out-of-bounds. I cannot wait to see this guy in action for his final year.
How do you feel Tony Gonzalez goes out?