The Greatest Of All Time (Jerry Rice) has spoken, and said that Atlanta Falcons 2nd-year receiver Julio Jones is poised for a breakout year in 2012. And really, who are we to argue with the opinion of a man whose nickname is G.O.A.T.?
Rice’s reasons for believing that Jones will have the breakout season aren’t necessarily very concrete, but I have no choice but to agree with him:
I love this kid. He’s awesome. He’s big, he’s fast. … I think he’s gonna have a breakout season this coming year.
True, true, true, and I think so too, Jerry. From a more concrete and schematic perspective, there is one route that I think Julio could be great at in 2012 and as a red-zone target in 2013. That is the goal-line fade route.
I’ve long said this is my favorite route that a QB and WR can connect on. The QB only makes a 1-step drop and delivers the ball– there really isn’t time for the pass rush to get there. All the QB needs to do is put the ball up at a spot where only his receiver can get it, and then let the receiver do his magic.
Ryan is capable of delivering this type of pass, especially when the chances of him getting drilled in the mouth are decreased on this type of play. The real key is the WR winning the battle against the CB. The bigger, faster, and stronger player generally wins, but it is the player with the best leverage on the specific play who will emerge the victor. I love this play because it really pits the WR and CB in a one-on-one battle for the ball. Check out this link from the NFP on the goal-line fade– it is mandatory reading. This is where Julio Jones can win. Jones has very good leaping ability. He can go up and get the ball at its highest point away from the CB, and catch the ball. His height, weight, and strength advantage over any DB who matches up against him will nearly always allow him a far greater chance than the DB at winning the leverage battle. This is a route many teams (most notably of late the Lions) have used, abused, and perfected. It gives them an easy 6-points once they are inside the 5-yard line. I would love to see the Falcons use Jones on this route more often in 2012, and give him the opportunity to be the playmaker we all know he can be. Just ask Jerry Rice.