Throw him the ball. That's the easy answer to the question I'm posing. Throw him the stupid freaking ball. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is an athletic freak of nature; he's a truly exceptional player who can singlehandedly change a football game. That said, he's only effective when healthy and used property. So how do the Falcons use him "properly" in 2015?
Pro Football Focus had an interesting article about slant routes yesterday. Julio Jones ran 56 slant routes in 2014, 7th among NFL WRs in 2014. He was rarely targeted on slant routes, amassing only 169 receiving yards. For someone of Jones' stature, slant routes are usually designed to create first down opportunities. This assumes he's an actual target in the passing game. If he's screening a defensive back or blocking, the route isn't important. Jones was targeted 163 times in 887 offensive snaps; less than 10 percent of his targets were slant routes. In other words, Jones plus slant routes doesn't equal production.
Jones had 1,593 receiving yards in 2014, a career high. He had a few monster performances that account for much of that yardage. And despite Jones' production, he only had 6 touchdown receptions. With a new regime installed, and in particular, with Kyle Shanahan determined to reestablish some semblance of offensive balance, one would think Jones stands to benefit.
Still, the question remains: how do the Falcons maximize Jones' production? I think a lot rests on his teammates' shoulders. A balanced attack and viable options in the passing game (other than Jones) are critical.