Statistical evidence of Falcons’ need for Julio Jones

Despite defensive shortcomings, the Falcons also needed Julio Jones' game-breaking abilities.

Despite defensive shortcomings, the Falcons also needed Julio Jones' game-breaking abilities.

Opinions — many dissenting – continue to flow in on whether the Falcons made the right call with the most bold decision in the NFL draft: trading several draft picks for the right to move up and draft Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.

I understand the concern. The Falcons need defensive help. I’m not oblivious to the 48 points Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay hung on them in the playoffs. I was at the game. But to suggest they didn’t need some help on offense and a potential game-breaker on that side of the ball ignores the obvious.

Thumbs up or thumbs down on Julio Jones trade?

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Overshadowed in that Green Bay game: The Falcons weren’t very good on offense, either. They scored 21 points. But one touchdown was a 102-yard kickoff return. Another was a 48-yard drive, following a Packers’ fumble at midfield. The final touchdown didn’t matter: It came in the fourth quarter when the Falcons already trailed 42-14.

But the best evidence that the Falcons needed some help on offense comes from my pal and former AJC comrade Len Pasquarelli, now of The Sports Xchange. Len wrote a piece making the case for the Falcons’ need for an explosive player on offense.

Here’s a key excerpt:

Despite leading the league in receptions (115), and establishing a single-season franchise record for receiving yards (1,389) in 2010, wide receiver Roddy White averaged a career-worst 12.1 yards per catch. As a team, the Falcons had only 32 receptions of 20 yards or more (the standard most teams, including Atlanta, use to define “explosive” plays) in 2010, next to last in the league. The team’s six plays of 40 yards are more ranked 22nd, and White had only three. By comparison, 18 players had more than that.

The club’s average of 6.46 yards per attempt ranked 25th in the league.

Quarterback Matt Ryan ranked 11th in the league in his rookie season of 2008 with an average of 7.93 yards per attempt. Over the past two seasons, though, his yards per pass attempt was only a combined 6.48 yards, nearly 1 ½ yards less. He was 26th in the NFL in 2010 and 21st in 2009.

So here’s my question: With a few more days to think about it, how do you feel now about the Falcons’ deal for Jones?

By Jeff Schultz

Earlier today

Braves’ Lowe bounces back from arrest and first inning

Roger McDowell fortunate to be suspended only two weeks

Braves can’t go lightly on discipline for McDowell, Lowe

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

206 comments Add your comment

Paul H

May 2nd, 2011
12:04 pm

Paul H

May 2nd, 2011
12:05 pm

Better every day about it. So we traded some future draft picks. Does anyone remember our 2nd and 4th round picks last year or the year before?

Paul H

May 2nd, 2011
12:07 pm

Either White or Jones will be on single man coverage every down. I like the potential outcome of that.

@DanWeiner

May 2nd, 2011
12:11 pm

This was a move the Falcons had to make. They need game breakers on both sides of the ball and they weren’t going to get those at pick #27. Yes they need defensive ends, but the recent history of defensive ends has been terrible. John Clayton from ESPN wrote this recently:

“Believe it or not, defensive end has been the least-safe position to draft since 2007. The only Pro Bowl defensive end taken in the first round of the past four drafts is Brian Orakpo of the Redskins — and he’s now a linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Of the 16 other defensive ends taken since 2007, Vernon Gholston, Lawrence Jackson, Kentwan Balmer, the late Gaines Adams, Adam Carriker and Jarvis Moss are no longer with the teams that drafted them. Derrick Harvey, Jamaal Anderson and Aaron Maybin have been labeled disappointments. Tyson Jackson is off to a slow start in Kansas City, and injuries ruined the first years of Brandon Graham, Derrick Morgan and Jared Odrick.”

So yeah, it was gutsy, but worth the risk.

Paul

May 2nd, 2011
12:13 pm

Free agency has the potential to change all of this draft perspective for the Falcons.

GeoffDawg

May 2nd, 2011
12:13 pm

If and when we can wheel and deal for some defensive free agents, I’ll feel a whole lot better about it. Alternatively, if Peria Jerry stays healthy and gets his butt in gear, I’ll also have that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Not to diminish Jones though. I think we just upgraded our offense for at least the next few years.

Ron in Vegas

May 2nd, 2011
12:15 pm

I love the pick and I believe that TD is lining up some big potential free agents as we speak.

Bill

May 2nd, 2011
12:19 pm

Love it…Better than Green …bet on it. Dimitroff is #1 GM.

Shug

May 2nd, 2011
12:21 pm

I feel like a Minnesota Vikings fan about 20 years ago when the Vikings traded a slew of picks to get its dream player, Herschel Walker. I recall that one working out quite well for the Cowboys, and not so good for the Vikings.

Rikus

May 2nd, 2011
12:26 pm

Kudos for having some balls, Dimitroff! We will address D in FA. Count on it.

nobody

May 2nd, 2011
12:26 pm

LOVE IT! He always reminded me a lot of Anquan Boldin or in the BEST case scenario an Andre Johnson. Fast, big, physical, and makes BIG plays. GREAT pickup for the Falcons. Cliff Matthews is going to be a steal as well. Rushes the passer well.

Cousin Vicker

May 2nd, 2011
12:27 pm

Why are we assuming that he is going to be an immediate-impact WR? There has only been one true difference maker as a rookie WR – Randy Moss. And folks, JJ ain’t Moss.

chem

May 2nd, 2011
12:30 pm

That’s just no true. There have been plenty of rookie wide receivers other than Moss that have had an immediate impact. Every year a couple WR do start and contribute.

Chris Ernest

May 2nd, 2011
12:31 pm

We could have Jerry Rice in his prime and it probably wouldn’t help. It’s not the players. Mularkey is too conservative! Van Gorder is even worse. Cover 2 is not football!

GTT

May 2nd, 2011
12:34 pm

Acceptance is setting in.

FJR

May 2nd, 2011
12:38 pm

How many rookie WRs came in and actually made a team explosive in his first year? Randy Moss? Is Julio Jones Randy Moss? Probably not.

I’m not saying I don’t think JJ will be a good player. I think he’ll be a fine WR in a few years. But if you think he’s going to make the offense explosive next year, I think you’re just being naively optimistic.

FJR

May 2nd, 2011
12:39 pm

so while, yes, I agree that our offense needs to be more explosive, I don’t think that Julio Jones solves that problem next year. Maybe 3 years from now, but this move was made for next year, and it doesn’t fix a problem next year.

Just Sayin'

May 2nd, 2011
12:44 pm

Julio Jones is a first round talent, but he’s not a talent worth five draft picks, including a first rounder. The Falcons got schooled.

Not Don Waddell

May 2nd, 2011
12:45 pm

When Julio Jones and AJ Green were seniors in high school, they were ranked #1 & #2 by EVERYONE.

Julio=TO
Green=Moss

Nothing that either of them did over the last 3 years did anything to dispel those comparisons. They are both freaks of nature who have lived up to the billing.

I don’t see any reason for that to change now. Neither of them played in a rinky dink high school offense. They both played in a pro-style offense that will give them the opportunity to step right in and know how to run routes.

I cannot believe that the Falcons actually managed to get one of these guys for Matt Ryan. Am also pumped about the RB from Oregon St.

The Real Falcon

May 2nd, 2011
12:46 pm

Does anyone say that Jones is not a gifted player? No.
Does anyone say he will not start? No.
Does anyone say the first or second best WR is better than the eighth best DE? No.

None of that is the issue. The issue is whether one player is worth 5 picks. Another is even if he starts will make and immediate impact? WR’s don’t. The question is if we are going to move up whether moving up for a DE is a better idea? After all that was 1A.
Those are the questions and they remain. However I suppose we should all just move on and I also believe that you columnists should stop trying to cover up the smell.

DawginLex

May 2nd, 2011
12:46 pm

JJ doesn’t have to be “the guy”. Just provide another weapon to spread the field, allow more running room, which he will do.

You are not guaranteed anything in the NFL. WIN NOW.

NagoyaFalcon

May 2nd, 2011
12:46 pm

I love it. I think the time has finally come where we see the Falcons as the class of the NFC. And the more I read up Julio, the more I like the guy. It’s amazing that this guy is going to be the 2nd best receiver on our team. Absolutely amazing. There won’t be a team out there that can cover us, and can you imagine what that’s going to do for the running game? There won’t be any more 48 point explosions on us because the other side’s offense won’t be able to get the ball. How in the heck could the Packers beat us now? What did they do to upgrade?

What makes me so happy is that the Falcons went “all in.” Why not when you got a pretty good hand. Yeah baby.

Reid Adair

May 2nd, 2011
12:46 pm

Jeff, perhaps if there was some even remote certainty regarding a plan to shore up the defense, I would like it. It’s likely that there aren’t going to be very many game-breaking defensive players (especially ends) available in free agency.

For Paul H,

2010: As I recall, they had no second-round pick (given away in the Tony Gonzalez trade). The fourth-round selection was center Joe Hawley from UNLV.

2009: Safety William Moore from Missouri was the second-round pick, and defensive end Lawrence Sidbury of Richmond was the fourth-round choice.

GTBob

May 2nd, 2011
12:49 pm

Statistical evidence that maybe we should have improved our pass rush:

22nd in the league in passing defense.
20th in sacks.
3-4 (including playoffs) against teams in the top 15 in passing.
Rodgers and Brees – 4 300+ yd passing games.
31/36, 366 yds, 3 TD’s, (Rodgers stats in the playoff game)
23/29, 326 yds, 3 TD’s, (Kevin Kolbs stats against us)

But yeah, a better #2 receiver is what we needed.

Not Don Waddell

May 2nd, 2011
12:51 pm

One other thing that nobody has talked about is the potential that Dimitroff is banking on a rookie salary camp to be in place soon. If that happens, then the Falcons will be paying the #6 pick about what they would have been paying the 27th pick last year.

I think Charles Johnson will come home to play DE for the Falcons.

Shug

May 2nd, 2011
12:52 pm

The Real Falcon, well said.

Bama Falcon

May 2nd, 2011
12:52 pm

If we woulda picked some DEnd you all would be on here Crying why didnt we move up. Why didnt we try and get AJ or Julio?

Mark (another one)

May 2nd, 2011
12:53 pm

You have to weigh the value and consider how many of the lower picks would have made the team. How many would have become starters? As a team gets better, sometimes only a handful of rookies make the roster. JJ will make the roster and he will start, this year. I think it was a good trade, and it was part of a larger plan. Our brain trust has been pretty good at planning the strategy and adopting as they execute.

Glenn

May 2nd, 2011
12:54 pm

The quicker the Falcons score, the quicker their defense gets back on the field, which means it will be even more tired than it was last season due to lack of depth because the Falcons didn’t draft defensive players.

The draft cut both ways and unless the Falcons make serious moves in the free agent market, it may actually end up setting the team back for years because they traded away next year’s number one pick and four to move up.

Finally, Calvin Johnson is coming up for free agency soon and I’d rather wait for him, as a known entity, than spend so much on a rookie. Just a bad deal all around.

#2 overated

May 2nd, 2011
12:56 pm

JJ 30 yards deep wide open . Who going to throw him the Ball? weak arm #2!!

Gus The Greek

May 2nd, 2011
1:03 pm

For the first time we have same one at the front office to run our team with class,
Thank you TD

1eyedJack

May 2nd, 2011
1:07 pm

What could possibly be said that has not already been said?

The Punter

May 2nd, 2011
1:08 pm

Why draft a punter?

yeah

May 2nd, 2011
1:10 pm

I’m sure they will address the need for a DE whenever FA starts.

UGA83

May 2nd, 2011
1:20 pm

The problem with yards per catch is not the receivers or the conservative offense, it’s Ryan. Only three years in and this ‘pro bowler?’ is one of th emost overrated
QB’s in history. Ryan simp;ly cannot throw th edeep ball with any consistency. Notice the big increase in INT’s in his second year? Notice how many were on passes over 15 yards?

PMC

May 2nd, 2011
1:25 pm

They played without thier 1st round pick Peria Jerry essentially all of Jerry’s career, Anderson didn’t work out as a pass rusher and Moore and Weatherspoon have been banged up as well, Moore missing an entire year.

I totally see the point of FJR and others. Losing 4 picks hurts, but I also feel like the scouts and the coaches etc have studied players both internally and externally and they truely believe that they have found the best players they could get for the Falcons.

Without seeing them play we don’t know what will happen.

demarco hamm

May 2nd, 2011
1:29 pm

The falcons did what they needed to do and that was compliant Roddy White. An they will get a good pass rusher via free agency. Blank has already made it clear he is going to do whatever it takes

Average Joe

May 2nd, 2011
1:30 pm

What would it have taken to get AJ? I heard rumors that we tried to get AJ but that fell apart, what happened, what would it have taken to get him?
Julio is a clear second to AJ.

BYRDDAWG

May 2nd, 2011
1:32 pm

Our O just went up to the top of the league!!

demarco hamm

May 2nd, 2011
1:33 pm

@ UGA83. Good QB’s are hard to come by, an if you have a good one you stick with him. Ryan is a top 10 QB

mE

May 2nd, 2011
1:35 pm

The Punter

May 2nd, 2011
1:08 pm
Why draft a punter?

Ask the Patriots and Colts that question. They won alot of games with a solid place kicker. How many games did the Falcons loose because of a bad place kicker in 2009? I’ve never understood the reasoning behind people not considering the kicker apart of the team when they win alot of games for their team. Special teams are now a huge part of the NFL.

BPD

May 2nd, 2011
1:38 pm

Cousin Vicker – Ever heard of Calvin Johson?

mE

May 2nd, 2011
1:38 pm

UGA83

May 2nd, 2011
1:20 pm
The problem with yards per catch is not the receivers or the conservative offense, it’s Ryan. Only three years in and this ‘pro bowler?’ is one of th emost overrated
QB’s in history. Ryan simp;ly cannot throw th edeep ball with any consistency. Notice the big increase in INT’s in his second year? Notice how many were on passes over 15 yards?

I take it you still believe Shockey is “DA FUTURE!” Those who evaluate QBs for a living say different. But then again, by alot of these post some of you truely believe you know more about football at the NFL level than every GM, couch, and owner out there.

#1 FALCOHOLIC

May 2nd, 2011
1:40 pm

Listern to you gys how soon we forget where the FALCONS used to be TD, MS AB have done a phenomally job in turning this franchise around and making it in to a contender, and now you have the nerve to question their motivates that shows that you are not true falcon fans. the season has not even started yet and you are putting loses in the column. give our gys a chance they feel like s#$% too with what happened against GB. who knows who will step up next year and have blow out season. or what else our FO has up there sleeve. me all i have to say is this from where we came from too this. IN TD, MS, AND AB “WE TRUST”

mE

May 2nd, 2011
1:44 pm

#1 FALCOHOLIC, you’re correct, they are not TRUE Falcon fans.

Birdthethird

May 2nd, 2011
1:49 pm

Ok so we have a deep threat. Now will Ryan be able to get it down field accurately. The deeper Ryan throws the more inaccurate he gets unless he’s really done some off season work (we all know Ryan works hard so let’s hope this question is rhetorical). Jones runs great routes but can he go and get the ill thrown ball like Roddy can. Let’s hope so. I do like the pick though. Let’s win a Superbowl!

Jesse Stone

May 2nd, 2011
1:49 pm

Average Joe- I don’t think Julio Jones is a CLEAR 2nd to any WR in this draft. Julio is bigger, faster, is a good downfield blocker. He also doesn’t have to come in and be the #1 receiver. He also has a solid NFL QB to throw him the ball. All advantages over A.J Green. The Falcons got the best overall receiver in this draft.

J Seinfeld

May 2nd, 2011
1:52 pm

Lost in this conversation is the implied message of this trade and pick. The bottom line is that we can infer from this pick that Dimitroff, Smith, et all believed no defensive end that they could draft at 27 would be better than Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis or Lawrence Sidburry. These 3 guys are young and still developing and drafting the 8th best DE in the draft would have been adding another body to the mix. Julio Jones is a definite upgrade at wide out and fills a huge need. At the end of the day, this will end up being a good trade for the Falcons if they perform as well or better than last year and the 1st rounder ends up being in the high 20’s low 30’s, however, if the team underachieves then there will be some serious second guessing out in the blogosphere….

mE

May 2nd, 2011
1:55 pm

Gil “The Godfather” Brandt on Julio Jones……..“I’ll tell you what, if you want to look at him, look at what he did against supposedly the best player in the draft [Patrick] Peterson. He caught nine passes for Alabama against LSU. I don’t see any holes in this guy at all.”

KB

May 2nd, 2011
2:00 pm

The same way I did on draft night. They gave up way too much to get him. Historically, WR’s have been high risk, overvalued picks in the draft. The Falcons did not address any of their glaring needs on defense. Terrible draft for the Falcons.