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Second Year Spotlight: Nfc South


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http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Second-year-spotlight-NFC-South.html

Second year spotlight: NFC South

Robert Alford – Atlanta Falcons

Last year, as a second round pick from Southeast Louisiana, the book on Alford was that he was talented, but raw. He played a lot of press coverage in college and had to learn NFL coverage techniques.

Alford proved to be a quick study and pressed veteran Asante Samuel for play time. He became the starter the last four games of the season and finished with 40 total tackles and two interceptions.

This year, the job is his. With a year under his belt, he will feel much more comfortable and gives Atlanta an upgrade at the position. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Alford get 60+ tackles and more than double his interception production as he has good ball skills.

Levine Toilolo – Atlanta Falcons

Last year, Toilolo played and learned behind Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends of all-time. With Gonzalez retired, Toilolo becomes the starter. At 6081 – 260, he has the size and athleticism to create a lot of mismatches.

As a rookie, Tiololo had 11 catches and two touchdowns. While I don’t expect him to have an 80+ catch season like Gonzalez had, 60+ receptions is possible.

Tiololo doesn’t have the speed and overall athleticism that Gonzalez had, but with his size and power, he can be a better point-of-attack player. He already is a good enough blocker and that will improve with experience.

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TBH, knowing what we know now, I'm not sure how much Toilolo actually "learned" sitting behind Tony. Osi would be a much better example of a veteran that wants to pass on to the next generation. As much as we kept begging for a TE to have "a year under Gonzo," I don't know that there was ever much of a point, in the long run.

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Guest Dirty Bird Nation ®

Is there any evidence that Tony ever mentored any younger players at all, much less any of the younger TEs?

Tony just wanted to earn a paycheck, I was screaming it last offseason when he demanded a larger salary instead of a pay-cut AND skipped training camp. Naturally I was passed off as the village idiot with the tin-foil hat.

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Tony just wanted to earn a paycheck, I was screaming it last offseason when he demanded a larger salary instead of a pay-cut AND skipped training camp. Naturally I was passed off as the village idiot with the tin-foil hat.

That's not completely true. I do believe that he wanted that ring. It's the same reason that he forced us to cut him instead of retiring.

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Guest Dirty Bird Nation ®

That's not completely true. I do believe that he wanted that ring. It's the same reason that he forced us to cut him instead of retiring.

Ok he wanted the ring, but he was not ready to give up a multi-million dollar paycheck to increase his chances.

Edit: Nor was he ready to put in the maximum effort needed. It might be that he was either over-confident in the team or already knew we didn't have a chance.

Edited by Dirty Bird Nation
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Guest Dirty Bird Nation ®

I hope Gonzalez comes back to a team mid season to a team except the Falcons expected to be Superbowl contenders. One and Done in Playoffs. Just so I can laugh all night long at his face.

careful what you wish for, as it stands right now we're one of the only teams that would take him on....

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In terms of being a mentor to the younger guys, I don't think Gonzalez was much different than Abe. They both knew what worked for themselves, but didn't seem interested in being coaches & trying to force that work ethic on the younger players at their positions.

Essentially, I don't think either of those guys saw being a mentor or coach or whatever in their job description. They were players & players only. D@mned good ones, too. But I just don't think either really cared to offer much advice to the young guys unless one of those young guys took the initiative themselves.

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As for Toilolo, I think people just look at his height & assume he's going to be a great matchup nightmare. If the dude is not strong or quick enough to get separation & doesn't have at least an average vertical leap, then being a whopping two or three inches taller than most NFL TE's doesn't make any difference.

It doesn't matter if you are 6'8" if you only have a 32" vertical. There are a number of athletic LBs & safeties in this league that can still get to the ball, even though they are several inches shorter.

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Stand corrected boys......... It's a good thing.....

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has had plenty of understudies throughout his tenured career, and when it comes to young tight ends, sometimes they listen to what he has to say, sometimes they don’t.

Either way, Gonzalez makes himself available to mentor any of those who are interested and rookie tight end Levine Toilolo has certainly taken Gonzalez up on the offer. Not only that, but it’s resulted in Gonzalez having some extremely high praise for the 6-foot-8 rookie out of Stanford — despite Gonzalez being a Cal guy himself (differences, Gonzalez says, they’ve put aside).

On Thursday, Gonzalez went into detail about all the things that he’s been impressed with when it comes to Toilolo’s progression.

“The difference between a good player and an average player in the NFL is the player that can learn from his mistakes, that doesn’t repeat the same mistake twice, and that’s what Levine is,” Gonzalez said. “He’s done a really nice job of making those mistakes — which we all do, especially rookies — and then not doing it again. That’s how you keep improving. The sky’s the limit with him.”

Gonzalez and Toilolo frequently work together during practice off to the side. If the two are out for a break while other players get some reps, they’re playing Gonzalez’s brand of catch, where the two throw difficult passes to each other to get used to making those catches that are sometimes off the mark.

When they’re not doing that, Toilolo is picking Gonzalez’s brain about anything and everything the future Hall-of-Famer has experienced in his career. It’s these types of actions by Toilolo that leads Gonzalez to believe that, for one, Toilolo can continue to be a viable option for the Falcons offensively this year, and that in years to come, he can be a special player when Gonzalez is gone.

Everything that I have, I want to teach him,” Gonzalez said. “He’s receptive, too. I’ve done it before where I’ve played with younger players and they don’t listen. You can tell them all you want and they might listen for a week or two, but he’s shown to me that, from the very first time I tell him something, he’ll keep working on it and keep working it. That’s what’s going to make him a good player.

“He’s going to surprise some people with how good he can be if he keeps working on his game and staying after it day in and day out.”

http://blogs.atlantafalcons.com/2013/10/17/gonzalez-impressed-toilolos-progression/

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Gonzalez is not an idiot. Of course he is going to praise Levine in an interview for the team's website. What did you expect him to say?

Remember that while he was part of this team, he also mentioned how he never asked for a trade because he needed to stand with his teammates, even in a bad season, blah, blah, blah... Yet, once he was no longer on the team, he started talking about how bummed he was that we didn't trade him.

Lip service.

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When I went to the games, Tony was always working on the sideline doing pass catching drills with other players when the defense was out there. As disappointed as I was he left the way he did, I can't climb aboard the bus running him over. He did work with the other players to help refine skills. Ryan and Tony were the two guys communicating the most with other players.

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Alford didn't press Asante for snaps. He started because Asante was constantly injured. Whenever he was healthy he was the starter. And the reason he started the last 4 was because Smitty wanted to get the young guys snaps. Same reason why Osi was moved to just a nickel rusher. I am excited to see him play. He definitely was a little raw last year but he is crazy athletic. I love having two extremely fast guys in the secondary with him and Tru. And now Southward.

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Gonzalez is not an idiot. Of course he is going to praise Levine in an interview for the team's website. What did you expect him to say?

Remember that while he was part of this team, he also mentioned how he never asked for a trade because he needed to stand with his teammates, even in a bad season, blah, blah, blah... Yet, once he was no longer on the team, he started talking about how bummed he was that we didn't trade him.

Lip service.

I guess Ryan is lip service too.............

Falcons QB Matt Ryan likes what he's seen from TE Levine Toilolo this offseason. "Levine's been in here for a couple weeks prior to us starting (voluntary workouts), and that's been a good thing for us," Ryan said. "I think he learned so much from Tony [Gonzalez], though, the past two years — just the way that he prepares, taking care of his body. I think Levine looks as good as he has since he's been here. I think he's put on a little bit of weight and put on weight in the right spot, which is good." With Gonzo (supposedly) retired, Toilolo has a huge opportunity to emerge as Atlanta's lead TE in 2014. He hauled in 11 of 14 targets last year and scored twice. He's not nearly as athletic as Gonzalez but is a big-time red-zone threat at 6'8 and 265 pounds.

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I guess Ryan is lip service too.............

Falcons QB Matt Ryan likes what he's seen from TE Levine Toilolo this offseason. "Levine's been in here for a couple weeks prior to us starting (voluntary workouts), and that's been a good thing for us," Ryan said. "I think he learned so much from Tony [Gonzalez], though, the past two years — just the way that he prepares, taking care of his body. I think Levine looks as good as he has since he's been here. I think he's put on a little bit of weight and put on weight in the right spot, which is good." With Gonzo (supposedly) retired, Toilolo has a huge opportunity to emerge as Atlanta's lead TE in 2014. He hauled in 11 of 14 targets last year and scored twice. He's not nearly as athletic as Gonzalez but is a big-time red-zone threat at 6'8 and 265 pounds.

Again, what do you really expect him to say? You think he would throw a teammate under the bus publicly, and on the team's own website?

I'm not saying Toilolo won't be better, and I'm not saying Gonzalez didn't teach him anything. If he made a point to approach TG and ask for help, then I don't doubt that Gonzo would've given him some pointers. However, I'm not taking anything anyone on the team says about him seriously until I actually see the guy produce.

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Tony just wanted to earn a paycheck, I was screaming it last offseason when he demanded a larger salary instead of a pay-cut AND skipped training camp. Naturally I was passed off as the village idiot with the tin-foil hat.

Your not the only one,

this basshole wanted QB money for one season of production without any offseason. His selfishness crippled the team literally and forced us to cut Abraham. Dude should've stepped aside and let the rookies get some snaps, but he refused.

Was a terrible mistake resigning him last season and everyone saying otherwise is living in D nile.

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Your not the only one,

this basshole wanted QB money for one season of production without any offseason. His selfishness crippled the team literally and forced us to cut Abraham. Dude should've stepped aside and let the rookies get some snaps, but he refused.

Was a terrible mistake resigning him last season and everyone saying otherwise is living in D nile.

We weren't forced to cut Abe though. We went into the season last year with 7m in cap savings. We had more than enough money.

Granted, Gonzo didnt do us any favors by his contract, but he definitely in no way crippled our cap. He was worth every penny for potentially being a key piece enroute to a Super Bowl.

Obviously had we known we would be decimated by injuries then we wouldn't have done it, but being 10 yards away from the SB in the previous and adding Sjax in the offseason EVERYONE assumed we would be back. I don't see how anyone can be mad at Tony to be honest. He and Roddy are HUGE reasons that Ryan is as good as he is now.

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Is there any evidence that Tony ever mentored any younger players at all, much less any of the younger TEs?

If you read the ESPN Insider article (the one where TG says Matt not elite which was completely twisted by media) he mentions that a lot of voluntary workouts and after practice stuff that he did for ALL the young players was eventually dropped. Guys stopped showing up..he was a role model for anyone that observed and wanted to learn. I don't think he did any one on one stuff unless asked.

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