ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03: Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 and Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrate after their 16-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers at Georgia Dome on October 3 2010 in Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Arguably the greatest tight end to ever play the game, Tony G put in another fantastic year in 2011. He finished with 80 catches for 875 yards and seven touchdowns. Despite critics thinking he may have lost a step with age, that didn't seem to be the case.
"I'm the old guy, and I'm 36 years old, so people always take that into account. That's the first thing they want to say, you've lost a step," Gonzalez said, but he followed up with, "I'm not here to complain."
We've seen that he can still be one of the best tight ends in the league, and Gonzalez believes he's at the the top of his game. "I think I can still do it at pretty much the same level," he said.
During the segment they talked about how Tony G has helped change the tight end position in today's NFL. "It's become a glamour position, and guys get the ball a lot," Gonzalez said. Tight ends get more attention than ever these days, and they can certainly thank the man with 1,149 career receptions for that.
Last season No. 88 was ranked seven spots higher, so age must be the biggest factor playing in here. He managed better stats in just about every category possible in 2011 than 2010. However, another year older means nothing to him.
Gonzalez was asked which young tight end "gets him the most excited" (their question, not mine). Unfortunately he responded with one of our enemies. "I like Jimmy Graham a lot. He's got the basketball background," he said. "I had a chance to really get to know him at the Pro Bowl, and what a great guy...He really gets it. He wants to work hard, he wants to be one of the best players in the league."
The most interesting part of his interview, though, came at the end when he was asked about Matt Ryan. Gonzalez explained how the no-huddle offense put so much pressure on No. 2 last season, and they'll be running less of that in 2012. He also said he hopes Koetter will just "let him (Ryan) go out there and play." I think we can all agree we hope the new OC will loosen the reigns on the offense, which should allow Ryan to have one of his best seasons yet.
Only three tight ends are ranked ahead of Tony G on this list. I'd say they did a fair job placing him in the rankings. Your thoughts on any/all of this?