We've spent a lot of time talking about how explosive Julio Jones is. So much time, in fact, that a bomb squad and a team of FBI agents is descending on his house as we speak.
Yet we haven't spent a lot of time quantifying exactly why the Falcons felt they needed to go all-in on Jones, who averaged a little under 15 yards a catch in his three years at Alabama. After all, wasn't pass rusher a bigger need for the team, given that nobody even got five sacks beyond John Abraham?
Well, no. Not really.
We've kind of debunked the Kroy Biermann isn't a good pass rusher argument, and the Falcons are being heavily linked to pass rushing whiz Ray Edwards of the Vikings once free agency rolls around. The need for a receiver like Jones was a huge one, and the Falcons responded accordingly. Even if that involved a mind-blowing trade.
Hit the jump to find out why this need was so pressing.
First of all, you need to look at what the passing attack has accomplished. orang3b's bewildering brand of advanced statistics will give you an idea of how Matt Ryan has done, and generally the picture isn't as rosy as it should be.
I don't particularly blame Ryan for that, though he still can be quick to look to the short route. I blame some combination of an ultra-conservative attack from Mike Mularkey, a lack of explosive options outside of Roddy White and a gathering storm of decline for Tony Gonzalez. As a result, the offense has become way too reliant on threading the ball in to White or letting Michael Turner bash his brains out up the middle for a two yard gain.
Here's an interesting stat for you: The Falcons ranked 31st in the NFL in pass plays of 20 yards or more, widely considered to be a mark of explosiveness for a passing attack. Teams simply didn't fear the deep pass from the Falcons, and they weren't particularly afraid of someone catching it ten yards out and trucking over a cornerback. If it wasn't White, it wasn't happening.
There are outstanding questions about this offense, and I can't promise that Julio Jones is a panacea. But I can say that with his combination of size and speed, he's a weapon that the Falcons sorely needed. He can stretch the field, open things up for White and Tony Gonzalez and hopefully help the team not rank 31st in long pass plays. That'd be nice.
Do you believe Jones will help to fix the issue, or am I living in a fairytale?