Jones trade firmly in the crosshairs Sunday


Julio Jones

When the Falcons moved up 21 spots in the 2011 draft to take a wide receiver by the name of Julio Jones, it made headlines. Most pundits and experts believed it was not a smart trade, but also signaled that the Falcons were “all in” for the 2011 season. To give up the sheer amount of picks they gave up for a second top-level wide receiver did not make a lot of sense. And I agreed with these opinions. I questioned the move and still question it today. I believe the Falcons gave up too much in that trade for Jones. Jones has been an excellent player, but so have been a number of lesser receivers taken in that same draft class such as Torrey Smith in Baltimore and Denarius Moore in Oakland. Had the Falcons held onto those two first round picks and used them on other problem areas (such as the offensive line) and drafted one of those lesser receivers, I think they could be a better team for it. But we’ll never really know the answer to that question.

But what we will know is that whether Jones’ presence on the roster pays off on Sunday. Jones and White are widely considered the best tandem of receivers in the NFL. Throw in Tony Gonzalez, and it’s hard to find a better trio of targets for a quarterback to throw to. Alone is that good enough to win a playoff game, something the Falcons have yet to do under head coach Mike Smith? Of course not. But it is the primary asset of this Falcons team. Those three players along with Matt Ryan are the one thing that distinguishes tthem from other teams, essentially it is what makes them “special.” They will be facing one of the league’s best pass defenses in Seattle, and what many deem the best cornerback tandem in the league in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. It will be the one matchup that all eyes will be glued upon.

“This is no disrespect to Mike Jenkins, because he’s a damn good receiver. But I’ve always been intrigued with the prospect of having a one and one-A with Roddy and someone like Julio.”

This was quote from Thomas Dimitroff cited by Michael Holley in his 2011 book War Room. Will the presence of the 1 and 1-A make a difference tomorrow? It didn’t really a year ago against the Giants. But it will have to this year because of that spotlight mentioned earlier. If having a 1 and 1-A receiver does indeed make a difference worth all of those draft picks, then this will be the game to showcase it.

And if you’re asking me my opinion about what will happen, I think Jones and White will make that difference. Despite my misgivings about the trade, this is the perfect chance to prove doubters like myself wrong. From watching film of Browner and Sherman, I don’t think they have the ability to match up with a pair of elite receivers like Jones and White. And I think if the Falcons offensive line can provide the necessary time for Ryan, he will be able to deliver the balls to make that obvious. If the offensive line is not good enough, then it raises those questions about whether the Falcons would have been better off using those high picks on blockers as opposed to another dynamic wideout. Either way, we should have a fairly definitive answer on whether the trade paid off for the Falcons or not by tomorrow evening.

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Aaron Freeman
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