The Atlanta Falcons go into the 2020 season with playoff aspirations, as a side whose identity remains on the offensive side of the football.
Just like any other team, the Falcons boast a group of players who are more important than anyone else on each side of the ball.
The performance of every player on this list will be crucial to the team’s success in 2020. I would like to just note that this is not a list of the five best players on the offensive side of the ball, but rather the five players whom the team can least afford to perform poorly or to lose to injury/suspension, whether that’s because of their incredible talent or because of the team’s lack of positional depth.
This countdown will be continuing weekly. You can find number five here, number four here and number three here.
2) Julio Jones
Julio Jones doesn’t play a premium position such as left tackle, and his direct backup (Calvin Ridley) is an ascending star. What makes Julio’s placement on this list so high is the sheer talent he possesses, and just how important that talent is in making Atlanta’s offense tick.
Jones is the only athlete on Atlanta’s roster who can say he’s unequivocally the best player in the NFL at his position. With that skill and reputation, the attention he draws opens things up for everyone else on offense.
In addition to taking pressure off of guys like Ridley, Jones consistently stuffs the stat-sheet. He has been a Pro Bowl selection six straight times, and has six consecutive seasons of at least 1,394 yards. He finished second in the league in receiving yards in 2019, and would have extended his record streak of 1,400-yard seasons if not for a late season injury which sidelined him on Thanksgiving night.
Jones also has the best overall Wide Receiver PFF score since 2006. He’s finished in the top four in PFF’s yards per route run statistic every year since 2014, and topped all WRs in that stat every year between 2015-2018. In addition to that, Number 11 finished top five among all WRs in first down catches every year since 2014 as well. Jones is also tied with Kenny Golladay with the most contested catches over the past two years with 43.
In addition to his prowess catching the ball, Julio was Atlanta’s highest graded skill position player in run blocking in 2019 according to PFF, demonstrating that he has the ability to do it all.
Julio Jones possesses blazing fast 4.3 speed, is a matchup nightmare due to his size, can run every route on the tree and can stop and cut on a dime in a way which is completely unnatural for a man of his size. Falcons fans are privileged to be witnessing a future hall of famer, in his prime, putting on a show every Sunday in the Fall.