Colts Stars Darius Leonard, Michael Pittman Jr. Waste No Time Recruiting Julio Jones

The Indianapolis Colts finally have their quarterback.

OK, so they will still have to look for their QB of the future, but their new signal-caller, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, is someone who can help them win now while they continue looking for that player.

After the news broke of Ryan going to Indy via a trade in which the team just sent a third-round pick to Atlanta, Colts stars Darius Leonard and Michael Pittman Jr. wasted no time reacting to the news. But they also quickly began recruiting one of Ryan’s former star NFL teammates: Julio Jones.

Matt Ryan is going to the Colts

Matt Ryan was stuck in a bad situation on the Atlanta Falcons the last several years. He still put up solid numbers, but Atlanta recorded a losing record in each of the previous four seasons.

In 2021, Atlanta ranked No. 31 in rushing and allowed Ryan to get sacked 40 times. It also had a horrible defense that ranked No. 29 in the NFL in points allowed per game (27.0). Oh, and his top weapon, Calvin Ridley, only played in five games.

With the Colts — who traded Carson Wentz earlier this month — Ryan will have a much better offensive line (although it could stand to improve its pass-blocking) and a rushing attack that ranked No. 2 in the league behind 1,811 yards from Jonathan Taylor. Hopefully, Indy will add some weapons for its new QB, but the team does have third-year star Michael Pittman Jr., who gained 1,082 receiving yards last season. And defensively, the Colts ranked No. 9 in points allowed per game (21.5) and No. 2 in total turnovers (33).

Ryan is joining a much better roster in Indy that featured seven Pro Bowlers last year, the most in the NFL. And it appears his new teammates are excited to add the 2016 NFL MVP. They are even recruiting his former pass-catcher.

Darius Leonard and Michael Pittman Jr. want Julio Jones

Indianapolis Colts stars Darius Leonard and Michael Pittman Jr., who recently tried recruiting Julio Jones.
(L-R) Darius Leonard and Michael Pittman Jr. | Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colts players and fans celebrated Matt Ryan’s trade to Indy almost instantly.

Pro Bowl cornerback Kenny Moore II tweeted, “I just texted Matthew Ryan. I can’t wait to annoy him.” Michael Pittman Jr., on the other hand, quote-tweeted a post from the Colts’ official account and said, “WE GOT OUR GUY!!!”

But Pittman and All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard also sent out tweets about seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, who the Tennessee Titans released last week.

In response to a fan saying the Colts now need to line Jones across the field from Pittman, the receiver tweeted, “I like this idea,” with a smiling emoji.

However, Darius Leonard, also known as the Maniac, was blunt. He wants Julio.

“Aye man hear me out,” Leonard tweeted directly to Jones. “Matt have already thrown you a lot of touchdowns in the dome in Atlanta, y’all could finish what y’all started in Atlanta in the dome here in Indy!”

Would Julio Jones work on the Colts?

Julio Jones had some great years with Matt Ryan on the Atlanta Falcons. He earned seven Pro Bowl selections and was a two-time first-team All-Pro. He also led the NFL in receiving yards twice, with 1,871 yards in 2015 and 1,677 in 2018.

With Jones as his top receiver, Ryan earned three Pro Bowl selections and was the NFL MVP in 2016 with 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. The two also helped take the Falcons to the Super Bowl during that 2016 campaign.

However, if Indy were to add Jones, it wouldn’t be as a No. 1 option for Ryan or even a second option. Jones only played in nine games in 2020 and 10 in 2021. In his lone season with the Titans last year, he had a career-low 434 receiving yards on 31 catches. He’s no longer the player he used to be, but he still showed flashes, catching six passes for 128 yards in a Week 2 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Given that Pittman was the only Colts player to gain over 384 receiving yards in 2021, Jones could still come in and make a difference for Indy’s offense. But the front office has to do a lot more if it wants Ryan to have more success than Carson Wentz did. It will need to add another receiver through free agency (it has the money to spend) or NFL draft.

All in all, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones had some special years in Atlanta. Playing on a talented roster with the Colts would give them one more chance to win a ring — together.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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