The Atlanta Falcons are still mourning the loss of presumptive Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. Replacing Gonzalez was never going to be easy; we knew that. But stomaching his absence was admittedly harder than expected. Now, even with a new head coach, there's no rush to go out and sign a star. The Falcons have instead focused on versatility. It's a new approach, one that won't necessarily pan out.
Much of this transition is Kyle Shanahan's influence. His thumbprint on this offense was apparent from the moment he was hired. His preference for a zone blocking scheme is well documented. And in a zone blocking scheme, you have to have versatile tight ends. The Mothership's Andrew Hirsh addressed this in great detail earlier today.
Shanahan has frequently run two-tight end sets on first and second downs, and based on recent comments, that isn't bound to change here in Atlanta. The team has even discussed putting three on the field at once.
Such formations are important to the success of the zone blocking scheme. If the Falcons utilize multiple tight ends who can get off the ball quickly and block well, it'll go a long way toward controlling the middle of the field and establishing a prolific ground attack.
Hirsh is absolutely right. The emphasis is on balance. For Shanahan, the goal is stop being so darn predictable. If you ask me, that sounds fanfreakintastic. Wouldn't it be nice to see a Falcons offensive set and not automatically know if they're going to throw or run the ball? And if they're going to throw, wouldn't it nice for Matt Ryan to have three or four viable targets? The humanity!
Dave will have more on Levine Toilolo specifically on Wednesday, so keep an eye out for that. Your thoughts?