On Nov. 10, 2019, the Atlanta Falcons shocked the world — well, maybe just those who follow the NFL — by defeating the 7-1 New Orleans Saints, 29-6 at the Superdome. One of the more noteworthy stats of the Falcons win was that superstar wide receiver Julio Jones was limited to 79 yards on three catches. On the other side, Michael Thomas, the Saints’ deep ball threat, racked up 152 yards on 13 receptions —which leads to the question as to whether there is a correlation between 100-yard receiving games and team victories.
Julio Jones climbing the 100-yard ladder
In the case of Julio Jones, the former University of Alabama star and Falcons’ top pick in 2011 (No. 6, overall), the Atlanta wideout is fourth all-time with 56 100-yard games. Of those 56 games, the Falcons are 30-26, proving the connection between Jones’ greatness and team victories is, at best, so-so.
Jones now sits behind Jerry Rice (76), Randy Moss (64), and Marvin Harrison (59), with a leap to third place likely with seven games left. For the 2019 season to date, Jones finds himself in the unfamiliar position of placing sixth overall with 791 yards, averaging a hair under 88 yards per game. As a clutch receiver, though, Jones was second behind Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans in the percentage of catches that are good for a first down.
A rookie year sensation
Julio Jones parade of 100-yard games began on Sept. 25, 2011, three games into the regular season. Against Tampa Bay, the team’s first-round pick in that year’s draft, Jones had six catches for 115 yards in a 16-13 loss. Jones stats were second on the team that game with Roddy White taking in nine catches for 140 yards. In his rookie year, Jones had five 100-yard games and ended with 959 total yards.
Jones proved to be worth what it took for the Falcons to get him in the draft. To get the number six pick in the 2011 draft, Atlanta traded five draft picks to Cleveland to secure the Alabama great. Jones was the second wideout taken in the 2011 draft, with A.J. Green, an all-American from the University of Georgia going fourth.
Jones ended the season making the All-Rookie team leading all rookies with eight touchdown receptions.
A never-ending highlight reel
There are many highlights among Jones 56 100-yard games, including a Dec. 8, 2014, Monday Night Football game against Green Bay in which Jones had 11 catches for 259 yards (his first 200-plus yard game). Proving the non-link between Jones’ greatness and Falcons wins, his team lost that game 43-37.
On Oct. 2, 2016, a season that ended with Atlanta playing New England in the Super Bowl, the Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers 48-33 with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing for 503 yards. Some 300 of those yards went to Julio Jones, who had one touchdown, and a remarkable 119 yards after the catch, showing off his speed and strength.
Jones’ only other 200-plus yard game came against Tampa Bay in a 34-20 win. Matt Ryan threw for 317 yards, 253 yards of which were to Jones. The future Hall of Famer had two touchdowns and 60 yards after the catch,
Julio Jones’ records point to one thing — the Hall of Fame
Julio Jones has led the league in receiving yards twice, 2015 and 2018. The Foley, Alabama native averages 96.2 yards per game to date. Overall, he has 11,048 receiving yards, which is about six miles of gridiron greatness. Lest we forget, Jones is a former high school track star in the long jump, triple jump, and was named Mr. Alabama Track and Field Champ while attending Foley High school.
With that as a backdrop, it’s worth noting that Jones averages 6.8 yards per carry on plays in which the Falcons use him as a running back. His running was more prevalent in his first two years with the Falcons when he ran for 56 and 30 yards, respectively.
So, where does Jones stack up among today’s wide receivers? One Hall of Famer shares his option:“I’m always going to go with Julio Jones,” Jerry Rice said on CBS Sports Radio when asked about the top receiver in the NFL today. “He brings everything to the game. He’s got the speed, he’s got the size, he’s got the jumping ability, he can stretch the field and run by defenders and all that. He’s not on a very good team right now, but I still think Julio Jones is the best receiver in the game right now.”