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Tony Gonzalez talks 2021 Falcons season and Kyle Pitts, plus Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and state of TE position

Tony Gonzalez is arguably the best tight finish to ever grace a soccer subject. Gonzalez set information on the place throughout his 17 seasons within the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, catching essentially the most passes (1,325) and recording essentially the most receiving yards (15,127) for a good finish in NFL historical past. Gonzalez is third in NFL historical past in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. His 111 receiving touchdowns path solely Antonio Gates (116) for essentially the most ever by a good finish.  

A 14-time Professional Bowl choice and first poll Corridor of Famer, Gonzalez is without doubt one of the best gamers in NFL historical past — and is aware of a factor or two about tight ends. In a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports activities, Gonzalez previews the 2021 Atlanta Falcons season and offers his ideas on a couple of of the NFL’s tight ends because the 2021 season is about to start. 

I needed to start out by touching base concerning the Falcons this yr. What do you want about Arthur Smith and what he brings to this workforce?

Gonzalez: “I like his creativity, his creativeness. You’ll be able to see that when he was on the market in Tennessee. He set the tone there and isn’t afraid to make the unpopular selections that are not going to make the followers glad and possibly among the gamers on the workforce. 

“Whenever you are available in and commerce an iconic player, best-of-all-time kind man like Julio Jones, that sends a message ‘Hey I will do it my means’ and we’ll go on the market and I’ve a components for fulfillment — and that is how we’ll do it. It’s a must to do this as a coach.

“I like his persona. I’ve all the time been into these coaches which are by no means too excessive and by no means too low. Invoice Belichick is a good instance of that. I believe he is received that good demeanor to be a head soccer coach. He is earned his stripes. 

“I like him rather a lot. I believe the Falcons are going to be actually, actually good for a very long time with him.”

You caught passes from Matt Ryan for 5 years. In my view, he is nonetheless enjoying at a excessive degree. What makes Ryan that good this late in his profession? 

Gonzalez: “Matt, I believe is underrated, truthfully. By way of his first 13 years he is had extra yards than every other quarterback. The man can flat out sling it, however I like his preparation course of. He is aggressive as hell — as any athlete on the market — and he desires to win. You’ll be able to have all these yards, however he is completely content material with throwing the ball for 100 yards so long as he will get the win. 

“I believe large issues are coming with Matt, particularly with Arthur Smith coming there. I believe Matt’s going to profit essentially the most. By the best way, they received a hell of a good finish in that first spherical. Julio’s gone, but when Pitts can attain that potential with Calvin Ridley with him — Matt’s going to have a hell of a yr.” 

You led proper into my subsequent query with Kyle Pitts. What do you assume he has to do to succeed in that Tony Gonzalez degree of efficiency? 

Gonzalez: “Simply work (laughing). That is the blueprint. Michael Jordan, Julio Jones, Tom Brady, LeBron James. These guys simply go to work each single day. Go on the market earlier than observe and catch some balls. When the protection goes 7-on-7, go catch some extra balls — do not take a knee. After observe, catch some extra balls and watch the movie. Simply be obsessive about being the very best player you might be. 

“Be self reflective. Whenever you go dwelling, do not keep in mind how nice you probably did. Attempt to see what you bought flawed and proper it. Take into consideration that once you go dwelling at night time. You’ll be able to’t ever flip it off and you may’t ever assume that you simply arrived. 

“If he does that, and he stays wholesome — the sky is the restrict. He’ll be an All-Professional tight finish for a very long time. He’ll set information. He’ll do unimaginable stuff. I watched a preseason sport the place he caught a flat route and took it up the sideline and I used to be like ‘Oh my gosh, this child’s particular.’ He might be proper up there with George Kittle and Travis kelce very quickly. It’d take him a yr or two, however I would not be stunned if he will get near that by the tip of the season. 

“I see large issues coming from him — and he is received Matt Ryan. This man is only a quicker, extra athletic model than me — and I used to be fairly rattling athletic. They will line him up there and throw him the ball — he’ll go get it. He will be enjoyable to look at.” 

Lots of people have been making an attempt to inform me Travis Kelce is heading for a downturn. I do not see how, however he’s 31. Is it even attainable see him slowing down in his 30s? He is within the prime of his profession proper?

Gonzalez: “Hey, I performed till I used to be 37! I used to be a Professional Bowler my final yr within the league and made First Group All-Professional at 36! Age would not even imply a factor to me. It is a psychological factor. 

“From what I find out about Travis, he is a aggressive dude. He is received Patrick Mahomes, he is received Andy Reid, he is received Tyreek Hill to make the protection keep off you and he will get to function 1-on-1. There isn’t a means (he’ll decline). He is received one other 5 years of high quality soccer in him — that is if he desires to. 

“He has a Corridor of Fame kind of profession already and I believe he’ll put a pleasant bow on that over these subsequent three or 4 years. He’ll go down in that argument as the very best tight finish ever, with me, Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) and all these different guys which have performed earlier than me and after me. 

“He’ll be proper in that dialog with all of us enjoying one other couple of seasons.” 

Zach Ertz had a foul yr final yr, which was very un-Zach Ertz like. I like how the Eagles saved him round for this yr. Do you are feeling Ertz can have that bounce-back yr, or what does he should do to get again to that Ertz-type degree of manufacturing we’re used to seeing?

Gonzalez: “I like Zach too. He is some of the underrated tight ends within the league, possibly even ever. The manufacturing that he is put up — nobody ever actually mentions him once you say ‘high tight finish.’ And I’ve executed it myself. I do not know why he will get forgotten and I do not wish to neglect him. 

“He is athletic. He is received nice arms. He is a catching machine. The Eagles can be silly to not use him like they’d up to now. From what I heard, he is had an unimaginable camp. He is like that toy you used to like, however then you definately put it within the closet and take it again out and say ‘Man I truly actually like this toy!’ I hope they mud him off and begin utilizing him once more like they used to. 

“Zach is a hell of a expertise. He is quick, he runs nice routes, and he actually, actually works his a– off. I am a giant believer in Zach. You’re employed your a– off like he does, all the pieces will maintain itself.”

*Gonzalez is supporting TiVo Stream 4K, which works on any TV with an HDMI connection and matches completely with NFL Sunday Ticket. 

Excited for the most important NFL schedule in historical past? Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from our team of NFL insiders, plus news from our team of experts, as well as data insights on every player. If you have already got the CBS Sports activities app, be sure that to favourite the your favourite workforce so you do not miss a factor!



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