Yesterday, I spent some time chronicling Julio Jones’ receptions, targets, and general production in 2017, noting that it was not really that far out of whack compared to what he did a year ago. I did note that he isn’t getting any red zone targets—he’s had just one on the year—and I’m not the only one who noticed.
Dan Quinn made it clear in Monday’s press conference that he’s not thrilled with Julio’s target count, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Quinn’s pride and joy is the defense, and despite their many dumb errors against the Dolphins, they still held teams to 20 and 23 points in consecutive weeks, which should be enough to earn wins. The offense, meanwhile, has scored 17 in back to back weeks. If I were DQ, I’d want my best player on offense to have the ball in his hands more, too.
Here’s what Quinn had to say, per Vaughn McClure at ESPN.
"No, and the reason I say that is that he's such a factor," Quinn said. "We've got to get more possessions, more time, more plays. And I think that's more a byproduct of getting Julio the ball more. It's not where he needs the ball more. We need more plays so he can get the ball more."
Getting more turnovers would help with that, but the simple truth is that the Falcons need more productive drives that wear down opposing defenses and give Julio more opportunities to get the ball, as Quinn alludes to above. This offense is never going to force the ball to Julio in bad situations on a regular basis—and nor should they—but you won’t hear me argue against a renewed focus on getting the NFL’s best receiver the ball more. Especially if it’s in the red zone.
Fortunately for Atlanta, they draw one of the NFL’s worst defenses this week, and there’s no one on that Patriots team who looks capable of erasing Julio for very long.