It's rare to look at a TE in his late thirties, and talk about him being used in a new role. Equate it to an old dog learning new tricks if you like, but that's far too cliched for Tony Gonzalez; especially when he knows all the tenets of his position already. This transition is due to a change in offensive philosophy, but Gonzo isn't too concerned. In speaking with the Atlanta Journal Constitution he said the following:
"One thing about Coach Koetter, is that he's going with what's good for the players. I love that in a coach; put players in a position to be successful. It's not about his system, it's about what works and what Matt [Ryan] is comfortable with because obviously he's the one driving the train."
Koetter will ask Gonzalez to be a more of a blocker than in the past. In Jacksonville he certainly used Marcedes Lewis as a pass catcher, but it was primarily off the play-action, and after he set the play up with solid North Sound running. It's likely we'll see the veteran TE get around two-thirds of the touches he got last year, purely because Mike Mularkey loved to lean on Gonzalez, and it's unlikely Koetter will do the same.
This represents not only a change for Gonzo, but also Matt Ryan who consistently utilized him in clutch situations as his most reliable receiver. The focus will be on more down field passing, which naturally takes some of the receptions away from the TE. As Gonzalez said though, it's more about what works, rather than adhering strictly to a system.
As it stands the Falcons seem motivated, and everyone is buying in to the moves both Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter's new defensive and offensive schemes. This is shaping up to be a special year for the Falcons.
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