Last week, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports that if he was an opposing defender facing his team's vaunted offense, he would "just pack up my stuff and go home." While some people might think Jones was a bit cocky for making that pronouncement, I like the kid's style.
Jones played 13 games as a rookie in 2011, and he finished the season with 54 receptions for 959 yards and eight touchdowns. His eight receiving scores led all NFL rookies, while his reception and yards totals were second behind Cincinnati's A.J. Green.
The Alabama product appears poised for a big year. He is a physical freak at 6'3" and 220 pounds, with sub-4.4 speed. And if he's healthy in Atlanta's offense, he should be able to pile up some huge numbers this season.
Along with four-time Pro Bowler Roddy White, Jones forms one of the top receiving duos in the NFL. Throw in future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, two-time Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner and versatile running back Jacquizz Rodgers, and Atlanta's offense has an embarrassment of playmakers.
The key to the 2012 season in Atlanta will be quarterback Matt Ryan. If he can learn new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's offense and have confidence in the pocket, the Falcons could be unstoppable. Koetter is known for his reliance on going vertical in the passing game, and in Atlanta, he has the talent for his system to thrive.
Quite frankly, I'm not sure there is a way to stop the Falcons, other than praying that Ryan forgets how to complete passes.
Jones is right to be enthusiastic about his team's chances this year. Now, the Falcons just have to go out on the field and prove they can do what they're capable of.