Posted: 10:47 pm Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Q&A with Falcons QB T. J. Yates 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

T.J. Yates was traded to the Falcons on Wednesday. He met with the coaches on Thursday.  (Associated Press photo) Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Yates leads Pope hall of fame inductees

T.J. Yates was traded to the Falcons on Wednesday. He met with the coaches on Thursday.
(Associated Press photo)
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Yates leads Pope hall of fame inductees

FLOWERY BRANCH — Taylor Jonathan Yates was out to dinner in Houston with his wife and childhood sweetheart Amy when he received the news that he was traded by the Houston Texans to the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday night.

The former Pope High standout, who went on to star at North Carolina, was elated.

Yates, who was named the 2010 Tar Heel of the Year, was one of three recipients of the school’s Patterson Medal for career athletic accomplishment. Yates finished with 9,377 yards and 58 touchdowns. He set more than 40 school records, including every mark for single-season and career pass completions and yards.

After flying to Atlanta, visiting Flowery Branch and returning to Houston, Yates gave The Atlanta Journal-Constitution a phone interview about the trade and how he plans to start reading his playbook immediately.

Here’s what Yates had to say on his first day with the Falcons:

Q: When did you hear about the trade?

A: I was leaving Chipotle with my wife. I’d just got a Burrito. I got the news about 8:30 central time last night. It was awesome news. It was great news for me and my wife. We get to go home and be around our families. Go to a great organization. Man, I couldn’t be more happier or more excited about going to the Falcons.

Q: What do you remember about beating the Falcons 17-10 in your first NFL start back in 2011?

A: That was definitely a whirlwind. It was the week after I’d gotten into a game for the first. It was my first start. My first time playing in front of the home fans in Houston. It was a good day for my career and a good day for the Texans because that win kind of got the ball rolling for the rest of that season. It got us headed toward the playoffs. It was a good day. I was definitely nervous. The Falcons were rolling at that time. We knew it was going to be a tough task ahead of us. It was a good team win. We had all aspects of the game. The defense definitely helped a lot. They helped me ease into my first start in the NFL. It was a great day.

Q: What happened the last two seasons in Houston for you?

A: Going back to my rookie year, beating Atlanta definitely helped me with a lot of confidence going forward and with moving our team throughout the rest of the year. We made our first playoff appearance here in Houston. We got our first playoff win and we kind of used that as momentum to build on for the next season. We made it to the playoffs again and had a disappointing loss up in New England. The Texans and The Falcons’ seasons the past two years were very similar. We were both leaders in our divisions and had a lot of promise going throughout the season (in 2012.) We were both 11-1 at one point and looking to make a run. Then everything just flip-flopped (in 2013). It was injuries in Atlanta and all types of stuff that happened here in Houston. Things just kind of flip-flopped. It’s interesting when you know that you have a great football team, but just nothing is going right and a lot of things are happening the wrong way. It was definitely an eye-opener. It was a humbling thing to be on such a high for a couple of years and then to come right back down to where you’re in the top six in the draft. You can learn a lot of from a winning season and going to the playoffs. You can learn a whole lot from a losing season. You can learn from both situations. Good or bad. There are a lot of things that you can take from a losing season, like a lot of things not to do again. You’ll know how to do things differently that second time around so that stuff like that doesn’t happen. I’ve learned a lot over my three years in the NFL. I’ve been through a lot of situations like having winning seasons, a losing season and being thrown into the fire my rookie year. Every situation that I’ve been in, I’ve learned from it and I’ve gotten better from it

Q: When did you leave for Atlanta?

Making his first NFL start against his hometown team, Pope product T.J. Yates hardly wilted under the pressure on Dec. 4, 2011,  guiding the Texans to a 17-10 victory. (Associated Press photo)

Making his first NFL start against his hometown team, Pope product T.J. Yates hardly wilted under the pressure on Dec. 4, 2011, guiding the Texans to a 17-10 victory. (Associated Press photo)

A: I left (Thursday) morning. Went and got a physical. Went to the facility and met all of the coaches. I got to meet a few of the players as they were breaking for the summer. I took a tour of the facility and I’m already back in Houston. I caught a quick flight in and a quick flight out. I actually had planned to take a little vacation. …I’m definitely excited to get into this playbook, even though I can’t talk to the coaches for the next couple of weeks until training camp. I’ll be inside and out of that playbook, trying to learn as much as I can before I hit the field.

Q: Did the coaches give you some direction on how to attack the playbook?

A: We didn’t get into too much detail. Just the basic stuff. It’s so much information to receive at one time. I’m going to have to break it up and learn it in parts, go through practice scripts and learn as much as I can. I’ll write all of my questions down. I’m going to have a notebook full of questions for the coaches when I get there. I’m going to do my best to learn as much as I can over this next month. Then I’ll try to hit the ground running when I get to training camp.

Q: Did they tell you that you were the No. 2 quarterback now?

A: I saw that they released Dominique (Davis). I haven’t had a chance to meet all of the guys really. I saw Matt (Ryan) and one of the other players. I’m ready to come in and do whatever I can to help this team out. Whether if it’s the No. 2 or whatever. I’m coming in to do whatever I can to make this team better and help this team win. I’m excited for the opportunity. I can’t tell you how happy me and my family were last night when I found out I was coming back home. I’m ready to get to going.

Q: Did you call your parents, Carol and John, first?

A: I couldn’t even get a hold of my Dad because he’s out of the country on business. …It was an exciting time for us last night. I had a great time meeting all of the coaches and being in the facility today. I’m pumped up and ready to work.


June 22 through 28 – Rookie Symposium, Aurora, Ohio.

July 22  – Rookies report to training camp.

July 23 — First practice of training camp.

PRACTICES WITH TEXANS — Wednesday, August 13 and Thursday, August 14.


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Dezmen Southward ready to compete for playing time

Warrick Dunn likes the pick of FSU’s Devonta Freeman

Falcons signed 20 undrafted rookie free agents, 5 from SEC 

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NFL Draft 2014: ESPN’s Todd McShay on the Falcons’ draft class

VIDEO: Reaction to the Atlanta Falcons’ 2014 draft class


Round 1 / 6 — Jake Matthews, RT, 6-5, 308, Texas A&M

Round 2/37 – Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, 6-6, Minnesota

Round 3/68 – Dezmen Southward, FS, 6-0, 211, Wisconsin

Round 4/103 – Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-8, 206, Florida State

Round 4/139 – Prince Shembo, LB, 6-1, 253 Notre Dame

Round 5/147 – Ricardo Allen, CB, 5-9, 187, Purdue

Round 5/168 – Marquis Spruill, LB, 6-1, 231, Syracuse

Round 7/253 – Yawin Smallwood, LB, 6-2, 246, Connecticut

Round 7/255 – Tyler Starr, LB, 6-4, 250, South Dakota


So the question is who would we have been better off with. Dent or Yates. I like the idea of having a QB on the bench who has had a little experience in the NFL. Dent was a bust. I just hope Yates doesn't have to play much.


Colt McCoy, Matt Flynn, Luke McCown, Brock Osweiler, Chase Daniels, Brad Sorenson, Zac Robinson, Derek Anderson, and insults of all insults, Tavaris Jackson

The only QBs who had a semblance of being "good" NFL backups were Hasselbeck, Mallet, and Vick! There are no good NFL backups, stop it with the all "good" teams have a quality backup. Quarterback and free safety are the worst coached positions in organized football (all levels). Seriously, if what happened to Green Bay last year doesn't illustrate this for folks, nothing will. Shame on the NFL, the demise of NFL Europe has only enhanced the fact!


Sounds like a good kid.  May the best man win the #2 QB spot.


he will be nothing more than a holdsnapper and 3rd string quaterback.


I like the deal.. Welcome home TJ, now kick a@@ for Falcons.  Thanks  DOL!


I read that Houston was going to release him, yet the Falcons trade for him? Why did Houston feel the need to release him?


This pick-up doesn't hurt, he'll be hard pressed to get on the field. But-- being said that, all you haters, he just a backup chill out.


Welcome back to the ATL!  Yates has a lot of physical and style similarities to Matt Ryan.  Good pickup.


does he have a hot wife?  Welcome TJ.


Welcome home. Great pick up! This guy can come in and play should Matt get hurt.



Yet still make 10+ times what you do cleaning the commodes at the Waffle House.



So do I.  To go through any NFL season without a legitimate #2 QB on the roster like last season was completely irresponsible, especially with possibly the worse pass protecting OL in the league last year.  All the good teams have a legitimate #2 QB to keep their hopes alive should their #1 QB not get up after a play.


@SOB  Well, DLED has done it again. "He went to dinner with his wife and high school sweetheart"

Wonder if the wife was jealous of the high school sweetheart.


DOL - That explains why they released him but why did we trade Dent for him?

DOrlandoLedbetter moderator

@LennyG @SOB The wife is the high school sweetheart!!! They've known each other since elementary school. You're tripping. Stay off that stuff. 



Because releasing him opens up a bidding war for all teams; trading a LB that would have probably been cut from us was the prudent thing.


I told my wife that that must have been awkward for all three of them.


@RangeRover @notPlanB

Yates was not a vested veteran (only 3 years of service). He would not have been an unrestricted free agent. He has to be "waived" just like Davis.  5 other teams in order of 2013 win/loss could have claimed him. Nobody on the list needed another QB before Atlanta. They just wanted to dump Dent and Davis. In their minds, they have their new version of Chris Redman. Means he seems capable of leading an NFL team while you're praying for a miracle recovery. Worse case, he is Joey Harrington 2.0, this is not the AFC South where he was playing on the only team (Houston - 2011) that was playing any defense.


  1. […] was leaving Chipotle with my wife. I’d just got a Burrito,” Yates explained to “I got the news about 8:30 central time. It was awesome […]

  2. […] was leaving Chipotle with my wife. I’d just got a burrito,” Yates explained to “I got the news about 8:30 central time. It was awesome […]