FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has heard owner Arthur Blank’s message, loud and clear.
Gonzalez knows that Blank was not talking about wedding rings, either.
“On paper right now, this is probably the best team that I’ve ever been on,” Gonzalez said after Wednesday’s OTA session. “It’s exciting. It’s good to know that we can go out there and accomplish some big things this year.
When I say that, I’m thinking Super Bowl.”
Gonzalez isn’t shy about talking about the team’s high aspirations.
“Why would I think any other way?” Gonzalez said. “Why would I, especially at this point in my career and with the talent that we have on this team. We can go a far ways if we want to, if we work the right way.”
Gonzalez hasn’t played on a team that’s won a playoff game, but he was on the 2003 Kansas City team that posted at 13-3 regular season record and had the AFC’s No. 2 seed. They were upset by the Indianapolis Colts 38-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Gonzalez believes the Falcons are on par with those Chiefs who featured record-breaking seasons by running back Priest Holmes, quarterback Trent Green and returner Dante Hall.
“I know that offensively, we are comparable to that 2003 team out there in Kansas City when we had a lot of Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball,” Gonzalez said. “We have that same talent on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Chiefs’ leaky defense failed them against the Colts. Gonzalez believes the Falcons defense has the potential to be much stronger unit.
“On defense with the pick up of Dunta (Robinson) coming in, (John) Abraham, (Curtis) Lofton and we have a lot of guys going into their third year,” Gonzalez said. “That third year is when it really clicks for you. There is really no excuse at that point.”
There has been a lot of talk about players making a big jump in their third year.
“You’ve had a chance to go out there and play,” Gonzalez said. “Now you are out there in that comfort zone. That’s when you start to hit your stride as a player. We have a lot of those types of guys on defense right now.”
Also, quarterback Matt Ryan is entering his third year.
“I think if he keeps playing the way he is right now and keep improving, I’ve always said with Matt, it’s not ‘if’, it’s ‘when’,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just up to him and to have us around him to make sure that our learning curve is accelerated. . . mentally, it’s a no brainer for him. . . I’ve got big plans for Matt this year. But it takes all of us coming together.”
Getting sized for your ring? Gonzalez is attending the OTAs, should defensive end John Abraham be at the “voluntary” workouts?