This week, we learned that Julio Jones tells Steve Sarkisian which plays to run. This is a behind-the-scenes look at how that went against Washington.
SCENE: The Falcons sideline, shortly before the game. Julio Jones has removed his pince-nez and is putting on his helmet, while staring sternly at Steve Sarkisian.
JULIO JONES: Now, as you know, Mr. Sarkisian, I am loathe to take credit for the success of this offense. Therefore, despite my exhaustive film study and hundred pages of notes on the gameplan for Washington, we must resume our charade. As far as anyone else knows, you are the mastermind behind this offense, are you not?
STEVE SARKISIAN: You got it, boss. We’re going for paydirt. One last big score. We get in, we get out. Don’t get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds if things get rough.
JULIO: Goodness gracious.
GREG KNAPP wanders over, flashing the smile of a man who loves a seven step drop.
GREG KNAPP: Hiya, Sark, we got any seven step drops in the works today?
SARK: Lock in, Iceman, because we’re the top guns here. If you wanna take flight, it’s got to be well outside of the safety area. There will be bombs dropped, and let me tell you, you’re out of line!
KNAPP and JULIO exchange nervous glances. JULIO clears his throat meaningfully.
JULIO: Now, I know that my scoreless drought has been taking some attention away from this football team, which is the last thing I want. I’m hoping we can get on the board today, gentlemen. If you look in your gameplan, the one that you personally prepared, I believe you will see an opportunity for a dramatic opportunity for just that in the fourth quarter. Won’t you, Mr. Sarkisian?
SARK: 10-4, good buddy. Engage the cross country trip with a lovable orangutan, with wacky hijinks ensuing. Let’s blow this thing and go home.
KNAPP: When you said you were watching a lot of film, I really thought you meant football.
With one final nervous glance over his shoulder, JULIO jogs on to the field. No one notices that he is levitating a half-inch off the ground, or that he has a small microphone situated in his helmet. Washington completes its first drive with ALEX SMITH throwing the ball onto the breeze like a small child blows on a dandelion puff, and then the Falcons offense is huddling up.
MATT RYAN: Alright, play call is coming in from the sidelines. Let’s see what Sark has cooking for us.
JULIO (quietly): Let’s dial up a pass for me on this first play, Steven. Something subtle and masterful, like the late works of Mozart.
SARK: Wooooooohoooooooo we’re gonna call this one Citizen Kane because looking at it makes me kind of sad and I don’t understand how it ends. You’re gonna look for Julio deep down the left sideline and then touchdown town, baby!
RYAN: He says I’ll be looking for Julio deep. Also, Citizen Kane is not that difficult to understand.
JUSTIN HARDY: I’m sayin’.
JULIO JONES visibly winces, but lines up quietly across from JOSH NORMAN.
JOSH NORMAN, IN CHRISTIAN BALE’S BATMAN VOICE: Ah, we meet again, Joker. I call you that because I’m Batman, and you are my mortal nemesis. Also, like Batman, I always win in the end. And I spent millions of dollars on unnecessary things. And I will probably grab and pummel you at some point during this route.
JULIO JONES: You are a very strange person, Joshua.
JULIO takes off down the sideline, but Josh Norman uses his grappling hook and the pass falls incomplete. He returns to the huddle in a dark mood.
JULIO (quietly): That lacked the subtlety I was looking for. People are going to begin to ask who is in charge of this offense if I am thrown to on the very first pass of the game! Here, let us do this: Give the ball to Tevin behind Ben, then throw to Mo short left, then deep right to Calvin, then Ito Smith behind Ryan, then short right to Hoop, then short right to Tevin. I think you will find the scoring most robust.
RYAN: What have you got for me, boss?
SARK: Alright, alright, alright. That’s what I love about these plays, man, I get older and they don’t age either. Fact is, the law says we can’t touch the end zone, but I think I see some lawbreakers in that huddle. Sometimes I feel like we’re all just fighting for lives we may not even get to live.
RYAN: What is the play?!
SARK: Right! Sorry. Tevin right guard, then Mo short left, then deep right to Calvin, then Ito behind Schraeder, then short right to Hoop, then short right to Tevin. Keep it secret, keep it safe. Not all who wander are lost.
RYAN: That’s like six plays! And Gandalf!
MARVIN HALL: Sometimes I wonder aloud, with great suspicion, if he is even running the offense at all.
JULIO (whispering): I fear I may go mad keeping up this ruse.
Things continue in this vein for quite some time, though the game is briefly punctuated by MASON FOSTER exploding into a spectacular fireball. At last, with the game quite in hand, it is Julio’s turn to score.
JULIO (again, quietly): Now is the moment, Mr. Sarkisian. You will find that I have marked page 73 with a sigil. You need not know its origin or meaning, but find it and call that play. The end zone shall be mine upon this day, and the spotlight will swing away from me and back to this offense! The cloud of suspicion shall again be lifted.
RYAN: Okay, 2nd and 4. What’s good, Sark? Without a movie quote, please.
SARK: Okay, got it. Look, no one told you it was gonna be this way. It seems like this drive is always stuck in second gear...
RYAN (shouting): OR TELEVISION SHOWS!
SARK: Okay, geez, I got it. Looks like a sword upon a shield marked with the Latin word “scutum,” overlaid on what looks like the Old One Cthulu, who is shown imprisoned in bars of bleeding steel beneath a roiling ocean of stars. And below that, it says “throw to Julio short and let everyone else blocks a whole lot.”
RYAN: I would like just one normal offensive coordinator.
The play goes off without a hitch. JULIO catches the ball and outruns JOSH NORMAN, who is slowed down by the cardboard cutout of the Batmobile he is wearing around his waist. The team mobs JULIO, who smiles mysteriously beneath his helmet. Soon, the game is over and the players mill into the visitors’ locker room, passing Steve Sarkisian and his DVD copy of Jaws.
ITO SMITH: You called a great game out there today, Coach!
STEVE SARKISIAN: Thanks Ito!
JULIO JONES (quietly, sadly): Thank you, Ito.