Julio Jones will have you know that the Falcons’ change in wide receivers coach is no big deal, which comes as no surprise because the sterling wideout rarely if ever gets over-excited about anything, but when No. 2 LSU plays No. 3 Alabama on Saturday, that will be huge.
While becoming a legend for the Crimson Tide and coach Nick Saban from 2008-10, before the Falcons drafted him No. 6 overall in ’11, Jones built a 2-1 record against the Tigers.
“Come on, Roll Tide,” he said when asked about the game. “That’s it. ... Coach Saban will have the guys ready, but you can’t overlook them. It’s going to be a great battle. LSU is a tough competitor.
“They’ve got a great offense now, and everybody’s like really high on them, which they’ve been doing a great job.”
Jones on the other hand said that Falcons coach Dan Quinn’s decision to move receivers coach Raheem Morris to the secondary and running backs coach Dave Brock to receivers coach as the team came out of the bye this week is nothing to sweat.
Brock coached wide receivers last season, when Jones led the NFL with 1,677 receiving yards and the Falcons (1-7) were one of two teams to feature three receivers with 800 or more yards, including former Bama standout Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu.
So, this really isn’t much of a change.
“Our room, we’re good to go. Brock is doing a tremendous job in there with us, just letting us play and have fun,” Jones explained. “The transition was easier for us because he knows everybody in there. It’s not like it’s an unfamiliar face in the room, or somebody trying to build trust with us. He knows what everybody’s capable of, (and) he holds us to that standard.”
Jones complimented Morris for his work with wide receivers, noting that since he has spent most of his career coaching on defense that he offered Falcons receivers special insight into the methods of the defensive backs that they compete against.
Earlier in the week, Quinn complimented Jones.
He said he was confident in moving Morris to defense both because of his experience there, and, “I thought part of the reason we’re allowed to do that is we have huge leadership at wide receiver to do that with Julio.”
Jones took that as a compliment, too.
He figures Quinn said what he said because, “I’ve been playing ball for a while. Just the way I approach the game, just everything about it, I guess. The standard I have for myself, the guys in the room I’m going to be that second voice or whatever Brock needs to back him, and in that sense of being a coach and understanding that we need everybody in that room to be crisp on their details.”
There’s a strong chance that Matt Ryan will return from a sprained ankle to quarterback for Sunday’s game at New Orleans (7-1), and Jones said that won’t change anything for him. He didn’t do anything differently in the last game, when Matt Schaub played quarterback – and passed for 460 yards – in an Oct. 27 loss to the Seahawks.
“I can’t run this route like this because Matt Schaub is in the game and run it like this because Matt Ryan is in the game,” Jones said. “I’m going to do what I do.”
Schaub suggested before the bye that the Falcons – all of them – should shut the game of football out of their lives for a few days, and Quinn has spoken of the Falcons “resetting” for the second half of the season.
Jones did just that last week, getting out of town for a spell.
“I did, but everybody kind of did it their own way. I can’t speak for everybody (and) what they need to do to be ready, block out football or anything like that. I’m not saying what Matt Schaub said is right or wrong ... but as far as me, I just did it because I always do,” he said. “I like to detach myself from it. I don’t watch football outside of football.”
Now that he’s back in football, the leading receiver in Falcons history doesn’t seem overly excited that the Falcons are about to dive into a stretch of five consecutive NFC South games with a contest over their biggest rival.
In 15 games against the Saints, he’s caught 91 passes for 1,403 yards and three touchdowns. Last year in New Orleans, he had 11 receptions for 147 yards in a 31-17 loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
But no, none of that means that he considers the Saints game or the run against division opponents to be an extra incentive to turn around a disappointing season. But he definitely didn’t care to deploy that word.
“For me, it’s not a disappointing season because we’re what, 1-7 or whatever it is, and we’re not where we want to be, but the season is not over,” Jones said. “For me, it’s just the next game, the mentality that I always stay ready.
“It’s a process. We come out here each and every day, and you can’t get bored with it regardless of the outcome of the game. If you go out there and play your best and do your best, that’s all we ask of each guy every day.”
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