The ESPYs are a fake awards show.
The NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players is flawed and subjective.
Nevertheless, Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, after two spectacular seasons, has been mentioned as perhaps the best player in entire NFL. He’ll report to training camp with the rest of the squad Wednesday.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton won the ESPY for best player in the league over Jones, New England’s Tom Brady, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown.
Jones finished eighth among the top 100, with Newton in the top spot. The list, which is voted on by NFL players, was widely panned for a multitude of glaring omissions again this season.
But after leading the league with 136 catches and 1,871 yards last season, Jones’ place in that top group of players is certainly warranted.
The unassuming Jones is not too concerned with his star rising across the league-wide landscape.
“Last year was last year,” Jones said. “This is a totally different year. My goal is to come out here and be the best teammate that I can possibly be.”
Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers Raheem Morris likes that Jones is not a diva receiver who demands the football. The Falcons get it to him out of necessity.
“He’s not a boisterous guy,” Morris said. “When he’s in a meeting room and is one-on-one with his guys, he communicates as well as anyone. He reminds me so much of Ronde Barber, who led in silence.”
With Roddy White released, Jones is the unquestioned leader of the wide receivers. It’s a role that Morris believes he will flourish in. Mohamed Sanu was signed in free agency to replace White, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver.
“Julio is really a teacher,” Morris said. “When he’s in the classroom, when Julio speaks he loves to influence those younger players.”
In addition to last season’s output, Jones caught 104 passes for 1,593 yards in 2014. He’ll certainly be the focal point of the offense again in 2016.
However, he’s not too concerned with a lot of the projections that have the Falcons struggling against a mighty fierce schedule.
“It doesn’t matter what people think about our team,” Jones said. “I don’t care what people think. We have to stay tight here in our organization. We are family here. Nobody sees what we do. It’s on us to come to work every day and just prove people wrong.”
He doesn’t have any goals for the season or how he wants to be used more in the red zone. Despite all of the catches, he scored only eight touchdowns last season.
“It’s not even about that (talent level, scheme),” Jones said. “We don’t care about that credit, this and that. We’ll see this year.”
Morris, a former head coach with Tampa Bay, has been a defensive coach over his 14-year NFL career. He looks forward to working with Jones and providing the offensive coaches with a defensive perspective on how teams are trying to slow them.
“I’m going to trick Julio to make him think everything is his idea,” Morris said. “That’s my style of coaching. Whatever he sees in the defensive backs, I’m going to trick him and make him think it was his idea. He’s going to tell you his ideas and how he’s going to attack people.”
Morris has been impressed with how hard Jones works.
“He’s always looking for advantages,” Morris said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. He wants to win at everything. That’s part of his edge and what’s made Julio great.”