Julio Jones is quietly off to one of the greatest receiving starts in NFL history.
At 124.3 yards per game, Jones leads all receivers with 373 yards through three games. He’s on pace to accrue 1,989 yards over the course of the season if he keeps his current pace up all year. That’s not bad since the all-time receiving record for a single season is 1,964 yards, earned by Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson a year ago.
Previously held by Jerry Rice, this record is a pretty big deal in professional football. There’s a very good chance Jones won’t break this record, but his current stats speak to the amazing start he’s had as the MVP of the Falcons through three games.
That’s not saying much, since they’re 1-2, but the Falcons have relied on a third-year receiver to carry the offensive load while All-Pro receiver Roddy White has been hobbled by an ankle injury and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez has gotten off to a relatively slow start.
It also speaks to the brilliance of the Falcons’ front office, who recognized a special talent in Jones and traded up in the 2011 draft to get the stud receiver out of Alabama. They gave the Cleveland Browns a couple of picks in return, which were cashed in for quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson.
You tell me who got the better end of that deal.
The Falcons will face much better secondaries than the Saints, Rams and Dolphins — that’s an absolute fact. But if White gets back to his healthy, dominant self as the No. 1 receiver on this Falcons offense, Jones will be able to go back to dominating No. 2 receivers and putting up freakish numbers that a young receiver just shouldn’t be posting.
Or maybe he’s already been crowned the Falcons’ top receiver for good and there’s just no turning back from here.