Without a doubt, Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the league right now. His record-setting All-Pro season in 2015 only further cemented the fact that defensive coordinators have nightmares thinking of ways to stop him. Even knowing that, I've heard rumblings over the past year that Ryan "looks for Julio too much."
Never mind the fact that looking for Julio is probably always a good thing, I wondered if the perception meets with reality. Does Ryan look for Julio too much? And if he does, is it abnormally so, when compared to other top receivers in the league? Let's take a look at the 2015 season, and whether or not Ryan is guilty of "over-targeting" his star receiver.
Before we get into the raw numbers, I think it's important to identify the "top" receivers in the league. Without question, Antonio Brown has to be considered one of the best - if not the best - right now. Though he had a "down" season, A.J. Green is still one of the better young receivers in the league and a clear number one. I was going to include Dez Bryant in this list, but his injury riddled 2015 made the comparisons problematic, so we're leaving him out of this comparison. Finally, a strong case can be made for DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans.
So, let's take a look at the raw stats for the 2015 season for these receivers.
A quick look at the stats above tells an interesting story. While Ryan definitely targets Julio a good bit - a full 1⁄3 of his total targets - it's not outside the norm for teams with a top receiver.
In fact, Antonio Brown was targeted at a higher percentage (a negligible difference really) while Hopkins was targeted at over 31% total. While Green is demonstrably lower, that was also on an offense that featured quite a few weapons - something the Falcons didn't necessarily have in 2015.
The question for this season is whether Ryan will continue to target Jones at the same 33% clip he did in 2015. The addition of Sanu may curb that somewhat, but don't expect to see these numbers drop dramatically. The reality is this: when you have one of the best receivers in football, it's normal to try and get them the ball as much as possible.
What do you think about Ryan targeting Julio nearly 33% of the time?