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Why Gonzalez Won't Regress Next Year

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Can you say BEAST MODE?!?!
Can you say BEAST MODE?!?!

It's easy to take Gonzo for granted.

After he declared his intent to retire in 2012, our focus shifted. The question on everyone's mind: what are we going to do once our hall of fame tight end retires? And how do we replicate his production? It's a legitimate concern. But try to keep some perspective. He's still here, and he likely won't regress.

I'm sure The Comrade has given his impending retirement some thought, and that may mean we look to draft his replacement this year. If that replacement can step in and play right away, then we may see Gonzo's numbers drop off. Nonetheless, it would appear that he's still very capable of being an efficient and reliable contributor, at or well above replacement level. On the other hand, unless The Comrade feels Gonzo's tutelage is an essential part of developing our tight end of the future, we may not draft a tight end.

Join me after the jump and we'll break this down some more.

Let's take a look at his production over the past three years:

2011

  • DVOA was 22.6 percent, meaning he was 22.6 percent more efficient than replacement level. That ranked him 11th overall.
  • Boasted an impressive 69 percent catch rate.
  • Pulled down 7 TDs.
  • 116 targets over the course of the season.
  • Defense Adjusted Yards Above Replacement was 237. That ranked him 4th overall.
  • 875 receiving yards at 10.9 yards per reception. His career average is 11.6 yards per reception.

2010

  • DVOA was 2.2 percent, meaning he was 2.2 percent more efficient than replacement level. That ranked him 25th overall.
  • Boasted an respectable 64 percent catch rate.
  • Pulled down 6 TDs.
  • 109 targets over the course of the season.
  • Defense Adjusted Yards Above Replacement was 72. That ranked him 21st overall.
  • 656 receiving yards at 9.4 yards per reception.

2009

  • DVOA was 10.6 percent, meaning he was 10.6 percent more efficient than replacement level. That ranked him 11th overall.
  • Boasted a 62 percent catch rate.
  • Pulled down 6 TDs.
  • 134 targets over the course of the season.
  • Defense Adjusted Yards Above Replacement was 161. That ranked him 9th overall.
  • 867 receiving yards at 10.4 yards per reception.

So why do I think he won't regress? Call it a hunch, call in an educated guess, or call it unadulterated homerism, but I really don't think he will.

Gonzo alluded to his altered fitness regimen and diet before the 2011 season kicked off, and if that didn't help him recover from his somewhat mediocre 2010, then I don't know what did. Aging is every athlete's worst enemy, though Gonzo has seemingly tamed the beast, so to speak.

I personally did not expect him to have a pro-bowl caliber 2011. We drafted JJ11 and rumblings about Gonzo's diminishing yards per reception ran wild. In addition, we expected JJ11 to usurp some of his targets.

Then reality happened. Ryan attempted a nearly identical amount of passes and Roddy was targeted at a comparable clip. Gonzo had more targets and he caught more balls. All while JJ11 pulled in 54 passes.

In short, the math somehow worked out, and he surprised us all, further solidifying his hall of fame status.

As always, I'm curious what y'all think. Will Gonzo fall of next year? Or can we expect similar production? Discuss!