Tony Gonzalez spoke with Ramblin’ Fan about the St. Louis Rams 2015 offense

facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
1 of 2
Next

Dec 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) on the bench in the fourth quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers defeated the Falcons 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Gonzalez, currently an NFL analyst for the CBS network, was once one of the most feared tight ends in the game. Not only for his big play potential, but also his ability to block down field and help an offensive line. With the 53-man roster due Saturday for all NFL teams, it’s make or break for players on the bubble. The St. Louis Rams need help on the offensive line, and one way they can accomplish that is through the tight end position.

Gonzalez was a 14-time Pro Bowl participant, tied for most ever, and a six time first team All-Pro. He was the first tight end to catch 1,000 passes and leads all players in receptions during the Pro Bowl with 48. Gonzalez played for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons during his 17-year career.

I had an opportunity to catch up with Tony recently to talk about the tight end situation in St. Louis and where they fit in to an evolving NFC West.

Of the two starting tight ends on the Rams roster, Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks, Cook was brought in to be the offensive threat. I asked Gonzalez what he thought of Cook and how he fit into this offense.

"“He’s a receiving tight end, he’s a fast guy, get down that seem. For me, if I’m an offensive coordinator, I would make an effort to get him the football because he’s a matchup nightmare for these linebackers, especially getting up that seam, corner routes, post routes and then right up the seam. So if they use him the right way he’s a guy who could catch 70 balls easily. Which would help Nick Foles out a lot, and open up a lot of things for that offense.”"

As a team it’s concerning when your leading offensive contributor is the tight end. It is a sign of severe limitations that have been placed on that unit and shows a lack of deep play potential. St. Louis may find themselves in that situation this year with an average crop of wide receivers. Gonzalez agreed and voiced his concern.

"“You got to have that outside threat. I’ve been there, I’ve done that where I’m the leading guy as far as the offense goes and the passing game. And I didn’t really figure that out, selfishly sometimes, at the same time that’s not going to work in too many games for you. You got to have that homerun hitter.” Gonzalez said. He noted how that changed after he arrived in Atlanta. A team that had a higher octane passing offensive compared to the Kansas City Chiefs of the same time. “I figured that out when I went out there (Atlanta) and played with Roddy White and Julio Jones. Where now we’re all the number one option depending on the situation. Those guys, if we need a big play down the field, those guys can go make that play, and it opens everything up for that offense. There are a lot of things you can do to stop the tight end. Were only operating in the middle of the field for the most part.”"

It’s no secret anymore that St. Louis needs help on the offensive line. The team took a gamble in the offseason by not signing any veteran offensive linemen and opted to go with a full rookie crop. Injuries and slow progression from some of the rookies have left the team vulnerable up front, and it has showed all preseason long.

We began to discuss how important the tight end is to the offensive line, especially one as young as the Rams.

"“I’m from the old school. Back when we came in, I blocked. I don’t care what anyone says, look at the tape, and it’s hugely important. First of all, for your own stats, that when you come into the game, it’s not like OK this guy is just going to receive the ball. You got to be able to set that edge and get around there and power block. It helps the offensive line out so much when you can have a tight end that can block.” Gonzalez said. He noted some of the premier tight ends in the league and their desire to block. “Look at the effectiveness of Jason Witten, or Gronkowski, just complete tight ends both in the run and pass. Blocking is something more of a desire. It’s hard to do, it’s not fun to do, there’s no glory in it. Usually people don’t say, wow what a great block. If you can’t block, you’re a liability to your team. Yeah you’re going to come in during passing situations, but we need to keep that defense guessing. When you’re in the game, they can’t just think here comes the pass. If those guys (Rams TEs) want more catches, they better learn how to block so they can catch more play action passes.”"

Next: What about that Jimmy Graham guy in Seattle?