Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will someday be remembered as one of the best pitch-and-catch duos in NFL history. They’ll finish with one of the highest yardage totals between a quarterback and wide receiver ever, and they’re not far away from cracking the NFL’s top 10 list for touchdowns passes/receptions between a QB and WR.
There’s a better-than-even chance, in fact, that Ryan and Julio crack that list in 2020. At the moment, Julio is sitting on just under 12,000 yards receiving courtesy of Ryan, who has missed just one game since #11 arrived in the league back in 2011, and he’s got 57 touchdown passes courtesy of Ryan.
That puts Ryan and Julio in rare company to begin with, but it also puts them just 6 touchdowns behind the Philip Rivers-Antonio Gates connection, which led to 63 touchdowns over the duo’s long career together. They’re also just 7 behind Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry, meaning that 8 touchdown catches in 2020 would put Ryan and Julio all alone at #9 in NFL history for that mark.
This would further cement their place as one of the best duos in history, obviously, but it would also put them in position to get into the top 5 in 2021. The only duos ahead of them at that point would be Joe Montana and Jerry Rice (67), Brett Favre and Antonio Freeman (67), Drew Brees and Marques Colston (again, 67), Jim Kelly and Andre Reed (71), and Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne (76), and surpassing all of those guys would put them at #4 all-time. Given the time remaining in their respective careers, it’s probably a stretch to think they’ll beat Dan Marino and Mark Clayton (82), Steve Young and Jerry Rice (92), and especially Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (118), but their place in the history books will still be quite secure.
If we do get NFL football in 2020, we’ll primarily be watching for the Falcons to bounce back, getting a closer look at the future of this team via their rookies, and considering Dan Quinn and his staff’s future with this team, but this will be a fun story line to track nonetheless.