On Thursday night, Julio Jones put on another clinic for young wide receivers everywhere, and it started in the first quarter when he broke Donte Jackson’s ankles with this move.
You don’t see that very often in the NFL, but Jones seems to make at least one defender look like this every week.
That was the beginning of a hot start for Jones, who had four catches for 85 yards in the first quarter alone. The rest of the game wasn’t as bountiful, mostly because of the weather. By halftime, the two teams were playing in a torrential downpour. However, Jones still finished the game with 137 yards on seven catches in yet another marvelous performance.
A lot of people who don’t watch the Falcons look at the stat sheet and conclude Julio is beginning to decline as he gets into his 30s. That’s a fair assumption for most receivers, but it couldn’t be further from the truth in Jones’ case. He put on a show in Week 1 against the Seahawks, finishing with 157 yards on nine catches. Then he battled through a hamstring injury for the next four weeks, forcing him to miss two games and severely limiting him in the other two. Now that he’s back to full strength, he has been unguardable.
Jones has 371 yards receiving over his last three games with two touchdowns, and the results are paying off in the win column as well. The Falcons have won two out of their last three, and if it weren’t for a mental mistake by Raheem Morris and Todd Gurley against the Lions, they would be a perfect 3-0 over that stretch. Jones’ impact on the game when he’s 100%, or close to it, is undeniable, and when asked by Michael Irvin after the win over the Panthers if he is still the best receiver in the game, Jones wanted everyone to take notes.
“You’ll see. Keep watching.”
If there are two things Jones doesn’t lack, they are talent and confidence — both of which are brewed by his incredible focus and preparation. Over the last three weeks, it’s become very clear he hasn’t lost a step, and he’s still the best receiver in football — an incredible feat for a wide receiver approaching his 32nd birthday. And for those people hoping to pry Jones away from the Falcons this offseason, they better be willing to part ways with two first-round picks… and then some.
Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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