Tony Gonzalez is not new to saving lives. On July 3, 2007 Tony performed the Heimlich Maneuver on Chargers fan Ken Hunter while eating dinner with his family, allowing him to enjoy another Independence Day. All in a days work for Gonzo. He's made a career out of making life easy for Kansas City Chiefs' QBs such as Trent Green, Damon Huard, and the great Tyler Thigpen. Now he's got a somewhat easier task: save QB Matt Ryan from a sophomore slump.
Gonzalez was dealt to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a 2010 Second Round pick. Under normal circumstances, this would be a lofty offer for a veteran tight end. Tony Gonzalez is not just another veteran tight end. Gonzalez holds the record for single season receptions (102), career receptions (921), career TDs(91), and career yardage (11,940) for a tight end. In a career with 10 Pro Bowl selections, he has revolutionized the position. At 33, Tony Gonzalez has accomplished more than any tight end before him, and he can dunk on the goal-post.
Now Tony is part of an Atlanta franchise that needs him more than most realize. After a brilliant Rookie of the Year campaign, Matt Ryan must avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Watch any Falcons game this year and expect to hear that the team hasn't had consecutive winning seasons, ever. This from a team that dates back to 1966, not an impressive feat by any stretch. Coach Mike Smith needs consistency from his offense that defied expectations last year. Judging by the 2009 Draft, seven defensive selections, Smith has turned focus to re-gearing the defense. After a record of 11-5 and a playoff appearance, Atlanta needs to build on a solid foundation rather than implode as they have done in seasons past.
Tony Gonzalez has been better than advertised in his two games as a Falcon, topping 70 yards and scoring touchdowns in both games. With defenses dividing their time stopping the rushing attack of Michael Turner, who had a breakout season last year, and Jerious Norwood, who threatens to break big on every touch, while trying to contain the explosive "Rowdy" Roddy White in the passing game, Gonzalez provides a crutch for Ryan. In the two game so far this season, Turner has not exactly been the "Burner" he was last year, Norwood has been subdued with head injuries and White has not received the number of looks he enjoyed in '09. Gonzalez remains a constant and consistent red-zone threat, looking to play a major role in an organization on the rise. Kudos to GM Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith for bringing in and utilizing the gifted hands of Gonzo. Tony Gonzalez is saving Matt Ryan from failure and keeping Falcons fans optimistic for their first repeat season above .500. Tony Gonzalez, you truly are a lifesaver.