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Projecting the Falcons 2016 offense: Julio Jones

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How might the All-Pro receiver do in 2016? We take a guess.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 season was a special one for Julio Jones. Not only did he get a long-term contract done, he also had a career year that saw him tie for the league in receptions and finish second in yards. He also was honored by being selected first-team All-Pro. So, how might Julio follow-up his monstrous 2015 campaign?

2012-2014

We're going to skip past Julio's rookie year because those seasons are never a great indication of how a receiver might fare in the NFL. It was clear that Julio was a special player early on, but in 2011 he was also in a run-heavy offense. It wasn't until 2012 - under Dirk Koetter - that Julio really began to shine. Here are his stats during that time:

Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2012 16 79 1,198 15.2 10
2013 5 41 580 14.1 2
2014 15 104 1,593 15.3 6

During this stretch, Jones averaged an incredible 93.6 yards per game. It wasn't until 2014 that Jones truly stepped in as the dominant WR1 in the offense and his numbers reflected that, with career highs in receptions and yards.

2015

Under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Julio would turn in his most impressive season yet. He was used in nearly every alignment during the year, including a few times at running back. It was clear that Shanahan wanted to get the ball to Julio as much as possible, and who could blame him.

Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2015 16 136 1,871 13.8 8

The 2015 season was remarkable for Jones, who finished averaging almost 117 yards per game. His average yards per reception dropped, due partly to the fact that he was used all over the offense including in the slot. Many fans have wondered why he isn't used in the red zone more, and his 8 TDs all year are reflective of that criticism.

Projection

NFL defenses have tried to stop Jones by double and triple teaming him, and it just doesn't seem to make a difference. The best corners in the league have tried to cover him one on one and routinely lose that battle. With Josh Normal out of the division, there don't appear to be any top corners left in the division capable of giving him a battle all game. As long as he stays healthy, Jones should be in for another big year. The addition of Sanu and Hooper should also take pressure off of him in the red zone, giving him more scoring opportunities. Here's how I see it shaking out in 2016:

Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2016 16 125 1,800 14.4 11

What are your thoughts on how Julio will do in 2016?