Thursday, January 17, 2013
Why Julio Jones is perfect fit for Falcons
By Pat Yasinskas
They are three very different personalities. But put Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez together and they become one.
They form what might be the best receiving trio in the NFL.
“The big thing is that none of us are selfish,’’ Jones said in a telephone interview Thursday. “We all want to see each other go out and make big plays because the most important thing is that we want to win.’’
That might sound a little unusual coming from a wide receiver because history has shown that wide receivers often have diva personalities (think Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson and Steve Smith to name just a few). Those traits also can carry over to tight ends.
I remember days when I covered the Carolina Panthers and they’d win a game but tight end Wesley Walls would be unhappy because he didn’t think he had enough passes thrown his way.
But the amazing thing in Atlanta is that Jones, White and Gonzalez now have been together for three full seasons and there never has been a complaint about the distribution of the ball. White and Jones are the wide receivers and Gonzalez is the tight end. But, at various times, they all have been quarterback Matt Ryan's favorite target.
White and Jones combined for 2,549 receiving yards this season, the most by any wide receiver tandem in the league. Gonzalez had 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.
When all three of them have been on the field at the same time, Ryan has averaged an interception once in every 52.2 passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When the entire trio hasn’t been on the field at the same time, Ryan has averaged an interception once in every 21.3 passes.
“We just take what a defense gives us,’’ Jones said. “If they’re doubling Roddy or me, it’s going to leave Tony open. If Tony’s doubled, Roddy and I will be open. We’ll just take what’s there.’’
Jones said the chemistry among the three has come naturally. Jones is the quiet one, White can be outspoken -- especially on Twitter -- and Gonzalez is the wise elder statesman. But their personalities have meshed nicely.
“I was very lucky to get drafted into the situation I came into,’’ Jones said. “I could have gone somewhere where other guys would resent me because they want the ball. But Roddy and Tony took me under their wings right from the start.’’
Jones entered the league under unusual circumstances. He was drafted during the 2011 lockout and he still was recovering from a college injury. But he showed up at players-only workouts and instantly formed a bond with White and Gonzalez.’’
“We’d go to the workouts, but we’d also go to the movies or just hang out to get to know each other,’’ Jones said. “It was that way in the beginning and it still is that way now.’’
Jones said he and Gonzalez hit the practice field early every day and caught 50 to 100 passes before practice even started. From White, Jones said he’s learned a lot about body control and movement.
“I think the biggest thing both of those guys have taught me is that you don’t have to try to be Superman,’’ Jones said. “You just go out and do your job and you’re going to get your share of passes.’’
That formula is working quite nicely. The Falcons don’t need a solitary Superman because they’ve got three super options in their passing game.