Although the Atlanta Falcons’ 44-21 blowout of the Green Bay Packers wasn’t competitive, Julio Jones kept it entertaining. The wide receiver racked up 180 yards with two touchdowns Sunday as he humiliated the Packers’ defense.
The high point of Jones’s day was when he turned a crossing route into a 73-yard touchdown, and left defensive backs LaDarius Gunter and Damarious Randall skidding across the turf:
Jones showed off his speed and muscle on that one. For an example of his feet, here’s this catch, which few other receivers can complete.
How about a highlight where Jones goes upside down and holds onto the ball?
That last play might be even better in pictorial form:
Jones has benefitted from QB Matt Ryan’s stellar performance this season, with a league-best 100.6 yards per game during the regular season. Jones helped his average significantly in Week 4 when he put up 300 yards on 12 receptions, including a 75-yard run for a touchdown with seemingly every Carolina Panther and their brother getting toasted. His performance that day prompted a feud between cornerback Josh Norman and his former team, and also resulted in cornerback Bene’ Benwikere’s release. (In a neat coincidence, Benwikere signed on the Packers’ practice squad last week, and presumably watched in horror from the sidelines yesterday.)
Jones can be elusive, but at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he can also run over defenders if he prefers. Whatever he chooses, he does it well. Jones plays like he doesn’t give a shit if his performance humiliates you and your family. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has harmonized Ryan and Jones, the result of which has made each of them better individually. Ryan targeted Jones a team-high 12 times yesterday; the receiver caught nine passes.
The Falcons will need more than a passing offense to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but Jones’s presence could be a major pain in the ass for New England’s defense. Back when he was in college, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler joked about playing against Jones. In two weeks, he’ll aspire to not end up like so many defenders before him.