Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was preaching to the choir. He said All-Pro wideout Julio Jones needed to be targeted more after the team escaped by the skin of its teeth in a win over the Chicago Bears.
“Usually when there is a quiet game for him, there’s not too much quiet that follows that,” said Quinn, via the official team website. “I thought we could have had some [more]. Maybe [even] an opportunity or two for some big ones to him. It’s something he’ll never say because that’s the type of teammate he is, but yeah, we thought maybe there was a few more opportunities for him in the game. He’s always a factor in what we do.”
Jones was still a factor even though he didn’t blow up the stat sheet. He finished the game with four receptions for 66 yards, which led all of the other wide receivers on the field. The concern for the Falcons is that he was targeted only five times.
That won’t cut it if the Falcons have any hope of returning to the Super Bowl.
There is talent across the board for the Falcons, but it pales in comparison to the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Jones, the heart of the offensive engine. They’ll have to figure out ways to get him more involved in the offense.
Something to consider is the transition from Kyle Shanahan’s offense to Steve Sarkisian. The former Alabama offensive coordinator is still getting his feet wet in the Falcons’ offense. It will surely run smoother in time.
An immediate fix would be a better effort on the ground. The Bears’ defensive front swallowed up Falcon Pro Bowl tailback Devonta Freeman. That hurt Matt Ryan’s ability to set up the play action pass and take more shots down the field in Jones’ direction.
It would be surprising to see another quiet performance from the four-time Pro Bowl receiver in Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Although the Packers’ defense held Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks’ offense in check, they were torched a season ago by Jones for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Never bet against Jones twice. A repeat monster performance could be on the horizon.