When Julio Jones lines up on the field on Sunday and prepares to catch a bunch of passes against overmatched Pittsburgh defensive backs, he won’t just be playing another game. He’ll be playing the 100th game of his career, and as you’d expect for a player of Julio’s caliber, that big round number comes with some history attached to it.
Julio already has more yards through 99 games—to say nothing of 100—in NFL history, so he’s just going to add to his total on Sunday against the Steelers. With eight receptions, though, he’ll tie Antonio Brown for the most through 100 games, and if he manages to reel in nine he’ll simply be the most prolific wide receiver ever between the 20s in that span. Either way, Julio’s already made some history.
.@AtlantaFalcons WR @juliojones_11 is playing in his 100th career game on Sunday.— NFL345 (@NFL345) October 5, 2018
Jones (614 catches, 9,556 rec. yards) has the most receiving yards by a player in his 1st 100 games in @NFL history and can surpass Antonio Brown (622) & Anquan Boldin (614) for the most catches. pic.twitter.com/zoOwshHBbd
Despite all this, Jones will inevitably face extra scrutiny for the rest of his career for his scoring numbers. He simply doesn’t reel in touchdowns the way many other elite receivers do and have in the past, due to the last 20 regular season games where he has but three scores and a track record of fine but not stellar production before that. You only need to watch Julio for a handful of plays to understand how special he is, but that touchdown thing is going to be a constant focus for many fans and analysts until he starts scoring in bunches.
Yet you can see Julio’s importance in the way defenses are forced to tailor their gameplans around stopping him, and in the myriad ways they’ve failed to do so as Julio has piled up 9,556 yards since he arrived in the league back in 2011. You can also see it in Calvin Ridley’s stellar production, as Ridley continues to get one-on-one matchups he can win as teams pick their poison by continuing to prioritize #11.
The Falcons just don’t have this caliber of offense without one of the best receivers I’ve ever seen play the game, and chances are good Julio will do nothing but burnish his reputation against a Pittsburgh secondary that just isn’t ready to hold him in check. May the Falcons win in no small part because of him, because I’m sure nobody wants to see a loss for Julio’s 100th game.