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tk13
10-15-2004, 03:23 AM
http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/101504/jag_16918929.shtml

Chiefs' Gonzalez looking to dunk the Jaguars again

Ex-Cal basketball star turned All-Pro TE has big numbers against the Jags.

By BART HUBBUCH, The Times-Union


Tony Gonzalez joined the NFL in 1997, and the role of tight end hasn't seemed the same ever since.

It's safe to say Gonzalez has redefined the way scouts and coaches look at the position in eight mostly spectacular seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, who bring their 6-foot-4, 251-pound prize to Alltel Stadium on Sunday for a matchup with the 3-2 Jaguars.

Before Gonzalez's first-round arrival, tight ends for the most part were considered an extra offensive lineman that caught a pass every now and then. Rarely, if ever, were they the first option or centerpiece of a team's passing game.

Enter Gonzalez, whose speed and athletic ability allow the Chiefs to line him up anywhere on the field as a conventional tight end, split wide as a receiver or even lined up in the backfield and keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night mulling all of the mismatches he causes.

"Tony Gonzalez is a guy we have to be aware of, where he is and what he's doing, at all times,'' Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said this week.

That's no exaggeration for the Jaguars, who have never had much success in corralling Gonzalez. In four career games against Jacksonville, Gonzalez has caught 25 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

Then again, most teams have struggled to contain Gonzalez, much less shut down the former Cal-Berkeley basketball player. He is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and just the third tight end in NFL history (along with Ozzie Newsome and Shannon Sharpe) to lead his team in career receptions.

With 486 receptions, including a team-high 18 this season, Gonzalez could be on his way to topping Sharpe's league record for the most catches ever by a tight end (815).

Gonzalez needs 330 catches to surpass Sharpe, who retired after last season, but he has the durability to make it happen. Gonzalez has missed just one game in his NFL career (the second week of the 1999 season) and is working on a streak of 83 consecutive starts.

"I think Tony's the best in the league, and I'm happy to have him,'' Chiefs quarterback Trent Green said this week. "The thing that impresses me most about him is work ethic. He's continually working to try to get better, which is striking because you're talking about a guy I feel already is No. 1 in the league at his position.''

That work ethic has resulted in Gonzalez averaging 67 catches per season in his first seven years in the league, including a team-record 93 catches in 2000. Gonzalez also caught at least nine touchdowns in three of his first seven seasons.

Gonzalez catching and Priest Holmes running has proven a dynamic combination for the Chiefs, who have led the NFL in scoring each of the past two years.

Kansas City hasn't been as explosive this year, as evident by a disappointing 1-3 start after last season's 13-3 finish, and that has led some of the team's critics to say the Chiefs' passing game relies so much on Gonzalez that it has become almost one-dimensional.

Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil voices the same concern about using Gonzalez too much, although that scenario should improve for Kansas City this week. Veteran wide receiver Eddie Kennison, an explosive downfield presence, is returning from a two-game absence due to a hamstring strain.

"I'd like our [wide] receivers to do more,'' Vermeil said this week when asked about Gonzalez's role. "We'd just as soon not define exactly who we have to throw the ball to every time.''

Not that Green would be overly concerned if he had to keep feeding the ball to Gonzalez, who often dominates when opponents make the risky decision to cover him with a linebacker.

The Jaguars did that in 2001 with the slow-footed Danny Clark (now with the Oakland Raiders), and Gonzalez responded by catching two touchdowns in a 30-26 Kansas City victory at Alltel Stadium.

"If he continues at the rate he's going, he may go down as one of the best to ever play the position,'' Green said.

That already seems a sure bet.

CosmicPal
10-15-2004, 09:23 AM
"If he continues at the rate he's going, he may go down as one of the best to ever play the position,'' Green said.

That already seems a sure bet.

Damn right!

KC Jones
10-15-2004, 09:26 AM
Damn right!

Now way - Kellen Winslow II is the best TE ever, and don't even get me started about the powers of Eli

ROYC75
10-15-2004, 09:37 AM
Now way - Kellen Winslow II is the best TE ever, and don't even get me started about the powers of Eli

You mean that Eli's is still coming ?