Julio Jones is dangerous even without the ball in his hands


Oct 28, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) gets behind Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (24) and safety Nate Allen (29) to score a touchdown during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones had a multitude of very good plays on Sunday against the Eagles, and I know for sure what his best play of the day was. And no, it wasn’t his 63-yard touchdown catch.

The best play Jones had, he didn’t even touch the football. Instead, Drew Davis made the touchdown catch for the Falcons first score of the day. You can watch a replay of the touchdown score here. I encourage you to watch it three times and listen to the analysis by John Lynch from the Fox broadcast.

Here’s what happened: The Falcons drew up a play that looked very much like a wide-receiver screen to Jones. They’ve run that play several times this season, Jones has been the recipient most of the time, and Atlanta has even been successful running it in the red-zone.

Perhaps the most crucial component of it is that the slot receiver, who is lined up between Jones and the ball, always runs to block the corner playing Jones, and that allows Jones to work his magic with the ball in his hands and in the open field. It’s a great way to get the ball in your play makers hands.

There is only one difference about this play– the slot receiver ran straight to the sideline at the snap, but then after a couple steps starts going up the field. It gives the cornerback and safety the illusion that he is going to try to block the corner.

Just before the slot receiver- Drew Davis in this case- turns up field, Julio Jones jumps back as if to receive the pass. At the same moment, Matt Ryan makes a slight pump fake towards Jones. When watching the play, you see both the corner and the safety break towards Jones on the pump fake to Jones. The moment they do that, they’re burnt.

The rest is just simple. Drew Davis doesn’t have anyone within 8 yards of him, and is open in the endzone. Matt Ryan throws a great pass that probably would have been completed in the back corner of the endzone whether the safety bit on the fake or not.

We never got to find out. The coverage was blown by Julio attracting almost all of the attention of the defense, and next to no attention being paid to Davis. It worked out well for the Falcons and got them on the board early, with a lead they never gave up from the first possession of the game.