As usual at the end of the season, I hand out my picks for the Atlanta Falcons players most deserving of seven different awards. Let’s start with the most valuable player on offense.
The obvious choice here is wide receiver Julio Jones. This is the second year in a row which Jones has won the award and at least from where I’m standing, it seems likely that streak will continue into the future.
Jones is clearly the best player on the Falcons roster and has been for a while now. He dominated the early part of the 2015 season, catching an NFL record 34 passes in the first three games of the season. That coupled with his 440 yards and four touchdowns in that span put him on pace for a nearly impossible 181 catches, 2,347 yards and 21 touchdowns, all but the latter of which would have broken NFL single-season records.
Jones however did not maintain that stellar pace, finishing the year with 136 catches for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. The two former marks wound up finishing second in the NFL’s record books, nearly eclipsing the single-season records of Marvin Harrison (143 catches set in 2002) and Calvin Johnson (1,964 yards set in 2012).
But things started to take a dip for Jones in Week Four of the season where he was an afterthought in the offense. And it was clear by the next game against the Washington Redskins that Jones was sporting a serious injury. It was not a coincidence that the Falcons offense went into a bit of a lull thereafter and became often maligned as the team lost seven of their next eight games. Jones scored only twice in that span and managed to eclipse 100 yards receiving just three times.
Without Jones’ ability to dominate the competition and thus drive the offense, the play-calling, leadership and subsequent job security of new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan came into question. Essentially the Falcons were once again the “one-man team” spearheaded by Jones, struggling to generate offense and score points when Jones was not a big part of the equation.
Thus is becomes clear why Jones is most deserving of the most valuable player on offense in 2015.
To hear other people’s picks for the offensive MVP this past year, you can check out the awards episode of the FalcFans Podcast.