The football world is still gasping, trying make sure what they saw was true and correct.
“Hey, he’s human,” Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said Thursday. “It’s OK. Physical errors are physical errors and you move on.”
Yes, Falcons two-time All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones is human. He dropped a touchdown pass in the end zone against Carolina and the football world seemed to stop.
But Jones is moving on.
“This how I approach the game, every play has a life of its own,” Jones said to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. “Good or bad on that play, it’s over and done with. You just try your best on that play and you just work for the next play.”
Jones, who suffered an ankle injury against the Panthers, didn’t practice Thursday. But he expects to play when the Falcons (4-4) face the Dallas Cowboys (5-3) in a big NFC showdown at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Jones leads the Falcons in receptions with 43 for 658 yards and one touchdown.
“Julio has made and will continue to make more plays that we all probably could imagine,” Sarkisian said. “That guy’s professionalism and his work ethic, his leadership, is undeniable. He’s going to get plenty more opportunities this year to show exactly what he’s all about.”
Coach Dan Quinn said the team rallied around Jones after the 20-17 loss to Carolina. Several players went by his stall to say a word of encouragement or just to tap him on the shoulder.
“You can’t dwell and hang you head on a play,” Jones insisted. “That’s where you get hung up at and you’re not going to be successful. It can be drive-killers or things like that. A penalty on offense or a penalty on defense. If you are steady worrying about the last play, you’re not going to get this play right.”
Jones said that’s the mindset that you must have in the NFL.
“That’s just how I play,” Jones said. “I’m definitely going to give you everything that I’ve got on every play, good or bad. I take responsibility, good or bad, for what I do on the field because I’m out there and I work hard.”
Jones wasn’t surprised by the parade of Falcons to his locker.
“My teammates, they are definitely going to have my back, like I’ve got their back,” Jones said. “That’s why I go out there and play. That’s why what I said after the game about who I play for, my family and things like that, but I play for these guys in this locker room.”
Dropped passes have helped to stall the offense this season. The Falcons have 16 dropped passes, which is third in the NFL by San Francisco (21) and Kansas City (18).
However, quarterback Matt Ryan is not alarmed.
“I see how hard those guys work during the week and the amount of work that they put in to being the best,” Ryan said. “Sometimes it goes like that in sports. I know our guys and the competitors that they are and how talented that they are, I know they are going to make those plays for us moving forward.”
Raheem Morris, the assistant head coach/wide receivers, has not been harping on the dropped passes.
“Dropped passes, you can’t coach dropped passes and things like that,” Jones said. “Obviously, a guy is not in the game trying to drop a pass. It’s all about finding ways to execute those plays and what happened on those plays, where were his eyes and things like that.”
Jones and the group know that they can help the offense get on track by not dropping more passes.
“Everybody in that room, we’re going to make more plays than what we are going to fail on,” Jones said. “Period. We are not hung up on anything like that in our room because we know when the opportunity is there we are going to make more plays that we are going to fail on.”
The Cowboys are expected to see Jones as his best after a difficult week.
“There is no question that he’s an elite receiver and has been from minute one,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s such a difference maker. He’s so complete. He’s a big target and he runs great routes. He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s explosive. Has great hands. Makes contested catches. He makes play over his head. He runs with the ball after the catch. He’s just a difficult guy to defend.
“Week-in and week-out, since he’s been a rookie in this league, he’s been getting a lot of attention and he keeps continuing to be productive. He’s just a great football player.”