Posted: 8:00 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, 2013
By Dave Choate
Fans and pundits are armchair psychologists. Always have been, always will be. That's why there's so much speculation about Mike Smith's fire, this team's lack of outward rage and toughness and so on.
The latest victim of this questioning is Tony Gonzalez. Gonzo looked pretty good in the first game of the season, but certainly it would be fair to say he was a hair slower coming out of his breaks than usual, and he blew one particular block that led to Matt Ryan getting sacked. It was not one of the best performances of his career, and certainly I understand that the missed block is going to upset people.
It can't just be a missed block and age, though, because Tony Gonzalez didn't get in a full slate of training camp practices. There are those who believe the lack of practice had nothing to do with Week 1, and those who think it have everything to do with it. Gonzalez isn't impressed with the latter camp:
Gonzalez said comment by Daryl Johnston that he gave up a sack because he missed three weeks of camp was "bull----". #Falcons— John Manasso (@jmanasso) September 12, 2013
Look, I'm just gonna say it: I don't buy the argument. Expecting Gonzo to keep up his crazy production forever wasn't realistic, but he's still going to have a fine year. He's going to be one of my players to watch against the Rams. And blaming three weeks of missed practice for that whiffed block ignores the fact that Gonzo has never been the world's best blocker. It's out of character, sure—Gonzo says it's only the second sack he's allowed in his career—but it doesn't necessarily point to an underlying training and conditioning issue.
That said, the Falcons can't afford too many mistakes like that going forward, whatever the reason. If Gonzo has taught us anything over the years, it's that he very rarely makes the same mistake twice. Keep an eye on him, but I expect typically great things going forward.