Julio Jones: Fixing red zone issues about being on the same page

AP

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught 106 passes over the course of the regular season and playoffs last season, but only four of them resulted in touchdowns.

That lack of success finding the end zone was mirrored by the Falcons’ overall difficulties in scoring touchdowns when they got into the red zone. They scored touchdowns 15 percent less often than they did during the 2016 season, which played a role in the 11-point drop in per-game scoring from year to year.

Two of Jones’ touchdowns came on red zone plays and he caught nine overall passes while inside the opponents’ 20-yard-line, but the season ended when he couldn’t reel one in against the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs. He believes that more success in that area will come from a strong connection with quarterback Matt Ryan.

“It’s very important for me and Matt to be on the same page down there in the red zone,” Jones said, via ESPN.com. “Over the years, I have the ability to make plays, and he has the ability to put balls there. But it’s all about us being on the same page, not having to think when we get down there, knowing where he’s going to put the ball, and knowing what I can do before he puts the ball in there.”

Beyond anything Jones can do to find more personal success in the red zone, the Falcons could also find increased team success with the arrival of first-round pick Calvin Ridley and growth from tight end Austin Hooper. If they make plays, it could lead to increased one-on-one chances for Jones and a higher-scoring offense in Atlanta this season.