TJ Yates promoted to Atlanta Falcons wide receiver coach



On Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons announced that the former North Carolina quarterback T. J. Yates was promoted to wide receivers coach. Yates was brought to Atlanta in 2021 when fellow Tar Heel Arthur Smith was hired as the Falcon’s head coach, and he spent last season as the team’s passing game specialist.

After a seven-year career in the NFL, Yates first dipped into the coaching pool in 2019 as an offensive assistant for the Houston Texans. In 2020, he was promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach before returning to his home state of Georgia in 2021.

“For me, having TJ in the quarter room with us, it was great to be able to lean on him for the technical stuff,” the then-Texans offensive coordinator said. Tim Kelly said in 2020. “Obviously with TJ able to play in the NFL for as long as he has, he knows what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback and really allows him to focus on the fundamentals and the techniques that come with playing the position. He was a huge help.”

Originally a fifth-round pick by Houston in 2011, Yates rose from Chapel Hill to become an unlikely franchise hero during his rookie season.

When the Texans start quarterback Matt Schaub broke his collarbone in late November, Yates had to coach the Texans in December, and he would lead the team to two straight wins in Weeks 13 and 14 to secure the franchise’s first-ever playoff appearance. Then, against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round, Yates would help the Texans win their first-ever playoff game, throwing a 40-yard touchdown to Andre Johnson as part of a 31-10 rout of Cincinnati.


However, the former fifth-round pick didn’t enjoy sustained success, his tenure at Texas ended after just three seasons and he left for the Falcons to serve as Matt Ryan’s backup for the 2014 season.

After a season in Atlanta, Yates ended his career with season-long stints in Houston (2015), Miami (2016) and again with the Texans (2017) before retiring.

For his career (2011-17), Yates played in 22 games (10 starts), completed 55.2% of his passes, threw for 2,057 yards and threw for 10 touchdowns for 11 interceptions.

Prior to entering the NFL, Yates signed up at UNC in 2006 as a three-star prospect. After making a redshirt as a freshman, Yates was named the starter for the 2007 season and would go on to become one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Tar Heel history.

The Pope, Ga., native left UNC first in program history in passing yards (9,377), completions (795) and second in passing touchdowns (58). ). He currently ranks second in passing yards (Sam Howell) and fifth in scoring through the air (Howell, Darian Durant, Bryn Renner, Marquise Williams).

Yates guided the Tar Heels to three bowl appearances during his Carolina career, losing twice in the Meineke Car Care Bowl (2008-09) before dramatically beating Tennessee in the 2010 Music City Bowl.

Yates was an honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2010 and is just one of three UNC quarterbacks to be drafted to the NFL since 1969 (Chris Kupec, Mitch Trubisky).

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