Thursday, June 19, 2014
Jacoby Jones trying to catch on as receiver
By Jamison Hensley
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Jacoby Jones' connection with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is stronger than any other wide receiver on the Baltimore Ravens roster. Jones even referred to Kubiak as his "biological father" again because he never knew his own.
"I need to get that DNA test," said Jones, who played under Kubiak from 2007 to 2011 in Houston. "I'm going to steal his coffee and swab the cup and figure it out. I have to make sure. I hope my mother doesn't see this. She'll kill me.”
Whether Jones' familiarity with Kubiak's system will translate into production as a receiver is the more pertinent question.
In five seasons in Kubiak's offense, Jones only caught more than 31 passes in a season once. While he's been a playmaker for the Ravens, he still only has a combined 67 catches in two seasons.
Getting more passes in the Ravens' offense will be a bigger challenge than ever for Jones. The Ravens added wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Owen Daniels to go along with Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Marlon Brown. Jones may find himself No. 6 on Joe Flacco's pecking order, which is even lower than his third-place finish on "Dancing With The Stars" last year.
"[I'm] trying to be one of the best receivers in the league," Jones said. "[I'm going to] try and play my role when they call my number, to show [I can] make that play. We fell short last year not going to the playoffs, and you beat yourself up in the offseason like, 'What did I do wrong? What did I do right?' You look for those types of small things and then build off them."
Jones made two of the biggest and most memorable catches for the Ravens during their Super Bowl championship run a couple of seasons ago. His 70-yard touchdown catch in Denver, also known as the Mile High Miracle, propelled the Ravens' to an AFC divisional playoff win. His 56-yard touchdown grab near the end of the first half was one of the key plays in the Ravens' Super Bowl triumph.
But stretching the field hasn't been a staple of Kubiak's offenses in Denver. In five seasons with the Texans, Jones had 10 catches on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. In two seasons with the Ravens, he had eight receptions on such passes.
Jones' speed makes him a viable downfield threat. His inconsistent hands doesn't make him a dependable target on the quick-hitting passes.
Jones cautioned everyone not to read too much into the perception that Kubiak doesn't throw deep passes.
"Don't sleep on that, but the way he is, he's going to take what you give us," Jones said. "If you're going to sit there and play that all game -- you're going to give it to us -- why not? Just chip away and throw it down the field. It's football. It's a chess match."
Jones, who re-signed with the Ravens this offseason, will make an impact as a returner. Since 2012, his 29.8-yard kickoff return average ranks third in the NFL and his four returns for touchdowns (three kickoff and one punt) is tied for the most in the league over that span.
Even though Jones has reunited with Kubiak, it could be more difficult for him to carve out a major niche as a wide receiver.