In addition to losing to the Taysom Hill led Saints in embarrassing fashion, the Falcons suffering continued when Julio Jones exited the field midway through the second quarter after re-aggravating his hamstring. Raheem Morris spoke in a press conference following the game in New Orleans where he informed media they could expect an update sometime Monday.
“We’ll learn more about him, obviously, and how far he can go and where he can take it,” Interim head coach Raheem Morris said Monday. “But, obviously, the hamstring bothered him yesterday and gave him some real issues. He tried to fight through it like I knew he would like he always does.” He said as Julio’s availability for the Raiders game is in question.
Julio Jones has missed two full games and the better part of two others due to the same hamstring injury. It might seem asinine to point this out, but the Falcons‘ offense is clearly more effective with Julio on the field. I only say that because earlier in the year, there were people (me included) who suggested the Falcons trade Julio in favor of the younger, cheaper stable of receivers behind him.
Since 2019, Julio has missed all or a majority of five games. In those five matchups, Matt Ryan threw for an average of 251 yards per game with a .5 (3 TDs & 6 INTs) touchdown to interception ratio. In the other 20 games since 2019, Ryan has averaged close to 30 more yards per game passing and a 1.76 (30 TDs & 17 INTs) touchdown to interception ratio. Using Sharpe Football Stats, I will show you exactly how ineffective the offense can be without their future Hall of Fame wide receiver.
Julio missed weeks 3 and 5 (Bears and Panthers) while playing only partially in weeks 4 and 11 (Packers and Saints). I will separate these into two categories to analyze the success of the offense with and without Julio. Weeks 1, 2, 4 (first half only), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (first quarter only) designates play WITH Julio. Weeks 3, 4 (second half only), 5, and 11 (second-fourth quarters) designates play WITHOUT Julio. Furthermore, we will further analyze Julio’s effect by more specifically separating play types into two variables — INSIDE and OUTSIDE the red zone.
Using Sharpe Football Stats’ Play Selection & Success Rate, I was able to find out exactly how successful the Falcons offense was on runs versus passes with and without Julio Jones in the red zone and outside the red zone.
Week # TEAM: Red zone (RZ) Run/Pass success % | Field (F) Run/Pass success % With Julio ; Red zone Run/Pass success % | Field Run/Pass success % Without Julio
Week 1 SEA: (RZ) 33%/56% | (F) 50%/49%
Week 2 DAL: (RZ) 44%/50% | (F) 48%/44%
Week 3 CHI: (RZ) 50%/33% | (F) 52%/41%
Week 4 GB: (RZ) 25%/0% | (F) 44%/44% ; (RZ) 80%/50% | (F) 43%/65%
Week 5 CAR: (RZ) 0%/0% | (F) 73%/50%
Week 6 MIN: (RZ) 25%/67% | (F) 52%/56%
Week 7 DET: (RZ) 38%/33% | (F) 33%/61%
Week 8 CAR: (RZ) 50%/13% | (F) 39%/75%
Week 9 DEN: (RZ) 25%/40% | (F) 39%/56%
Week 11 NO: (RZ) 0%/0% | (F) 75%/43% ; (RZ) 0%/0% | 33%/28%
Against Green Bay and New Orleans, the Falcons played with and without Julio, which gives us the best data to directly compare the production of each scenario. With Julio in Week 4, the offense was successful on 25% of runs and 0% of passes inside the red zone and was successful on 44% of runs and 44% of passes outside the red zone. After Julio exited the game during the second quarter, the offense was successful on 80% of runs and 50% of passes inside the red zone and was successful on 43% of runs and 65% of passes outside the red zone.
With Julio in Week 11, the offense was successful on 0% of runs and 0% of passes inside the red zone and was successful on 75% of runs and 43% of passes outside the red zone. After Julio exited the game during the first quarter, the offense was still successful on 0% of runs and 0% of passes inside the red zone and was successful on 33% of runsand 28% of passes outside the red zone. The Saints game was abysmal for the offense; there was essentially nothing going right whether Julio was on or off the field.
During the Green Bay game, the offense was less successful on runs but noticeably more successful on passes outside the red zone without Julio compared to with Julio on the field. That same trend cannot be said for the offense against New Orleans. The offense was far more successful in both the running and passing game outside the red zone with Julio.
With contradicting statistics such as those from games where Julio played partly, it is hard to determine whether the offense struggles or not without Julio. Expanding the scope by comparing the average percentage of successful plays from every game with and without Julio inside and outside the red zone will allow us to better comprehend these figures.
I will exclude the games (Packers and Saints) where Julio played only partially because the game-plans created for those games were done so in anticipation that Julio would play the full game. Instead, we will look at the weeks where he either played the entire game or not at all.
In weeks with Julio (1, 2, 6, 7, 8, and 9), the offense was successful on average on 38% of runs and 53% of passes inside the red zone and was successful on average on 44% of runs and 56% of passes outside the red zone. In weeks without Julio (3 and 5), the offense was successful on average on 29% of runs and 22% of passes inside the red zone and was successful on average on 63% of runs and 46% of passes outside the red zone.
Inside the red zone, Julio’s absence has a profound effect on the percentage of successful plays. When Julio is on the field, there is a 10% increase in successful runs and a 30% increase in successful passes. Many criticize Julio for not being as effective in the red zone, but this variance illustrates just how much more effective the entire offense is when Julio is on the field in the red zone.
Outside the red zone, the difference in successful play percentages is cloudy. The Falcons are 20% more successful on run plays WITHOUT Julio on the field. The reason for such a dramatic difference in success could be game-planning deliberately to establish the run in an attempt to offset Julio’s vacancy. What makes more sense is the difference in successful pass plays outside the red zone with and without Julio. The Falcons are 10% more successful on pass plays with Julio outside the red zone.
Analyzing situational pass/run play calling ratios will give us more insight into how different the Falcons play with versus without Julio. Inside the red zone, the Falcons called passing plays on 51% (4.8 YPA) of all snaps and running plays on 49% (2.0 YPR) of all snaps with Julio on the field. Those numbers shift when Julio is off the field. The Falcons called passing plays on 56% (1.6 YPA) of all snaps and running plays on 44% (3.3) of all snaps. The most notable difference inside the red zone is the yards per attempt and yards per rush numbers. The Falcons offense is much more effective at throwing the ball in the red zone with Julio on the field (+3 YPA) but is less effective at running the ball in the red zone with him on the field (-1.3 YPR).
Outside the red zone, the Falcons called passing plays on 59% (9.0 YPA) of all snaps and running plays on 41% (3.4 YPR) of all snaps with Julio on the field. The Falcons called passing plays on 62% (6.7 YPA) of all snaps and running plays on 38% (6.7 YPR) of all snaps without Julio on the field. So in both cases, inside and outside the red zone, the Falcons called a larger percent of passing plays without Julio on the field. Again, inside and outside the red zone, the yards per pass attempt average decreased with Julio off the field, but the yards per rush attempt increased without him too.
It is clear that the Falcons’ passing attack benefits when Julio is on the field, regardless of field position. What is head-scratching is the team is more successful running the ball without Julio on the field, regardless of field position. Dirk Koetter seems to call less running plays when he is without Julio too, which also does not make sense. I feel safe saying that this offense struggles mightily because of Koetter’s primitive scheme and his inability to make half-time adjustments. Although the statistics reaffirm Julio’s presence on the field as a positive change in the passing game, they also controversially state his absence on the field as a positive change for the running game. This does not make sense to me, other than how it points out how much Koetter struggles to scheme receivers open.