As many of you already know, Julio Jones settled his differences with the Falcons and has reported to camp. That’s great news, and now that he’s back, it’s a good time to talk about why he’s so important to this Falcons team.
A word on the contract changes: If he goes down with an injury, or his production plummets, he’ll have some security and some guaranteed money as a fallback. He’s also got the opportunity to re-negotiate next season, and if he has a big year, Julio’s going to get paid.
With extensions looming for guys like Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews and Ricardo Allen, a major rework for Julio was quite unexpected. The truth is however, the Falcons will make sure Julio, Grady, Jake, and Rico will be Falcons until 2020, at least, regardless of what they do with Julio. When we are considering the demographic of skill for each position, Julio, Grady and Jake are my locks to be retained. If anything, we’d find a replacement for Ricardo Allen, or use Damontae Kazee in that role, assuming there’s confidence in his game in that front office.
The bigger picture here is whether or not Julio wants to play into his mid-30s. Nothing is guaranteed anymore, but at least we don’t have to worry too much about it until 2019. Now, on to his importance.
Julio Jones is crazy. There’s nothing more to it. The following achievements were taken from the official Falcons website:
In seven seasons, Jones has emerged as one of the premier receivers in NFL history with 580 receptions for 8,974 yards (15.5 YPC) and 43 touchdowns, while playing in 94 games.
Established himself as one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL over the last seven seasons as his 84 receptions over 25 yards lead the league.
Since 2011, his 95.5 receiving yards per game lead the NFL.
Additionally, his 6.2 catches per game rank second in the league during that span. He has scored seven touchdowns of 60+ yards and 12 touchdowns of 40-or-more yards in his career.
Has posted 38 100-yard games and 13 games with 10-or-more catches in his career.
Aside from the achievements, this guy makes plays for his teammates. Anybody who says his 2017 season wasn’t good is simply out of their minds. Last time I checked, 1444 yards is considered elite, and Julio enabled a lot of scoring by ensuring the Falcons moved down the field effectively.
For those who are still arguing that his season was mediocre, understand that he is consistently faced up with 2 defensive backs and still dominates. That domination takes many different forms.
Despite double coverage, man or zone, Julio Jones ranks fourth in yards after catch with 480 yards. Not enough? Fine. Julio ranks first in yards per pass route at 3.2, and ranks eighth in yards per target, at a whopping 9.8; essentially a first down every target. Julio Jones basically makes our offense hum, and without him, the Falcons offense would be greatly diminished. While he takes up sometimes around 20% of the defensive attention and STILL produces, this opens up opportunities for the Falcons’ other weapons. That is essential.
Despite the lack of touchdowns last year, Julio is the engine for this passing game, and he should have an even better year in 2018. The holdout that never was is over, and I’m looking forward to great things this year.