It’s hard to talk about Matt Ryan’s stats without also talking about Julio Jones. Since being drafted in 2011, Jones has been a go-to target for Ryan. Julio has unarguably been one of the best receivers in the league year-after-year and with his 9th season coming up, there’s little reason to think he won’t continue to be amazing.
That said, the emergence of Calvin Ridley and a renewed emphasis on a physical running attack could cut into his numbers somewhat. There’s also the issue of his age. Julio is now 30 and if you’re a big believer in the “30 wall,” that number may concern you. Let’s take a look at some of his past numbers and what it could mean for 2019.
Receptions and yards
Receptions is a tough one to nail down. To be frank, Julio has been all over the map with these numbers. He had 113 in 2018 but only 88 in 2017. He had 83 (in 14 games) in 2016 and an astonishing 136 in 2015. His two lowest totals were in his rookie year (54) and his injury year in 2013 (41). Overwise, he’s never had fewer than 79 receptions in a season. If you leave out his two lowest seasons, he’s averaging right at 100 receptions per year. However, the two most successful offensive seasons for the Falcons (2012, 2016) saw him with 79 and 83 receptions respectively. For our purposes, I’m going to split the difference and target him hitting about 90 receptions this year.
The yardage per season is another dynamic metric. His best season was 2015 when he had 1,871 yards. Last year was his second best at 1,677 yards. Again, if we go by team success (2012 and 2016), we see yardage totals of 1,198 and 1,409. Generally speaking, when the overall offense is better, Julio’s numbers tend to scale down (which makes perfect sense). I’m optimistic about the offense this year, so my thought is these numbers will scale down somewhat. However, with 90 receptions and a lifetime after of 15.4 yards per reception, he will still put up incredible numbers. With 90 receptions and between 15 and 16 yards per reception, a total of 1400 yards seems entirely reasonable.
Of all the amazing things Julio has done over his career, rack up touchdowns has not been one of them. His best season was 2012, when he gathered double digit touchdowns for the ONLY time in his career (10). He’s hit 8 TDs several times (2018, 2015, 2011) and has had some really down years (2017 - 3, 2014 - 6). Of all the stats that frustrate the most with this great receiver, this is one of them. When you consider all of the weapons Matt Ryan will have this year, I’m not sure this stat is going to be much better for the All-Pro receiver. That said, 6 touchdowns may be low, but that still feels like a reasonable target.
With guys like Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman all looking to be big factors in the offense, Matt Ryan does not have to lean as heavily on his favorite target in 2019. For Falcons fans, we should honestly hope that Julio doesn’t complete dominate the offense. His “down” years generally coincide with greater team success. Given what we’ve looked at above, here’s how I see things playing out:
90 receptions, 1400 yards (15.6 ypr) and 6 touchdowns
What kind of numbers do you think Julio will put up this year?