Matt Ryan and Julio Jones couldn’t hook up at the end of the Atlanta Falcons’ opening night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. With Atlanta needing a touchdown to steal a win from the defending Super Bowl champs, the team’s Pro Bowl connection couldn’t make it happen. Unfortunately, that’s nothing new for the duo.
Ryan targeted Jones twice in the last 30 seconds of the contest from inside the 10-yard line. One pass was overthrown, Jones caught the other but landed out of bounds as the clock expired. Two shots, two incompletions.
After the Eagles triumphed 18-12, ESPN Stats & Info posted the following:
That’s right, in the last two seasons (including the playoffs), Ryan is 1 of his last 20 targeting Jones. The Falcons as a whole looked awful in the red zone, but the lack of a connection between their quarterback and top receiver was a glaring problem.
Jones and Ryan worked well together for most of the game. Jones caught 10 of 19 targets for 169 yards. But inside the red zone, Ryan was 0-of-3 with an interception when targeting Jones.
Last season, Jones and Ryan hooked up 88 times for 1,444 yards, but just three touchdowns.
Some will blame Steve Sarkisian’s play-calling and some are even suggesting the duo hasn’t been the same since losing Super Bowl LI after losing a 28-3 lead.
Regardless of the reason, Ryan and Jones are clearly not on the same page when it matters the most and the Falcons are suffering as a result. After seven seasons playing together, there is no excuse for these two being completely out of sync.
Yes, Atlanta has other receiving options, but Ryan threw just 20 touchdown passes last year despite throwing for 4,095 yards. That’s what happens when you aren’t connecting with your No. 1 target.
The Falcons need Ryan and Jones to figure out whatever is ailing them and fast. Atlanta faces crucial divisional matchups with the Panthers and Saints over the next two weeks and can’t afford to fall to 0-3.