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Reflecting on Julio Jones' historic, sorcerous 2015 season

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I want you to consider Julio Jones' season in its proper context, so before we dispense with the numbers, let's take a look at what happened around #11 in 2015.

  • Matt Ryan had his worst season as a pro, throwing just 21 touchdowns against 16 interceptions.
  • The offensive line, particularly on the interior, rarely blocked well enough for the Falcons to take a bunch of deep shots, especially later on in the season.
  • The team's second-leading receiver was a running back. Devonta Freeman pulled in 73 catches for 578 yards, or 7.9 yards per reception.
  • The team's third-leading receiver was notoriously lead-footed journeyman tight end Jacob Tamme, with 59 receptions for 657 yards.
  • The team's fourth-leading receiver was Roddy White, who was a non-factor for long stretches and finished with 43 receptions for 506 yards. The team's fifth-leading receiver was rookie Justin Hardy, who was inactive much of the year.

To sum all this up, the Falcons had a pretty woeful receiving corps beyond Jones, a scuffling quarterback, and teams were frequently selling out to cover Julio Jones. With all that in mind, here's his final season line.

136 receptions, 1,871 yards, 13.8 yards per reception, 8 touchdowns

That season is second all-time for yardage, and tied for second for receptions. Julio Jones is so great at the game of football that he rose above decidedly shaky supporting cast like a levitating wizard in a Falcons jersey and put up some of the greatest numbers in NFL history. He scoffed at opposing coverage, guffawed at those who thought the team should spread the ball around more, and enjoyed a hearty belly laugh at those who thought he wouldn't live up to his new contract. This Falcons team failed for many, many reasons, but aside from a handful of costly drops on Julio's part, none of that can be traced back to #11.

We're living in the golden age of the wide receiver, and yet Julio and Antonio Brown are still so impressively dominant that they manage to dwarf everyone else. There may be a day that DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham rises all the way to the top, or perhaps Dez Bryant regains his form, but right now there's nobody doing the kind of work Julio and Antonio are on a weekly basis. It's remarkable to watch.

We tip our caps to you, Julio Jones. If nothing else, we got to watch a man make history in 2015.