Atlanta Falcons: 4 Ways Julio Jones Can Become Matt Ryan's No. 1 Target
On any other team, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones would be the No. 1 target.
With Roddy White in town, that's not possible. Considering White has five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, it's obvious why.
At 30, White isn't getting any younger. The future is in the hands of Jones. However, White won't give up the top spot easily. Jones has to earn it on the field.
Here's a look at four things Jones can do to become Matt Ryan's No. 1 target.
Do the Little Things
When it comes to being an NFL receiver, doing the little things is imperative.
For years, White has been one of the best blocking receivers in the league. With a run-first approach as a team, White had to become a good blocker for the Falcons to move the ball.
When Mike Smith and Michael Turner came to town in 2008, running the ball was the name of the game. White bought into that approach.
While helping spring Turner on multiple runs, White was rewarded with targets.
White had a 1,000-yard season one year before Turner came to town; the Falcons didn't have an identity at that time. With Turner in town, the running game was instituted, but White still got his receptions.
For Jones, blocking for the run game is imperative to stay on the field with the Falcons. Although the league is going more toward a passing game, rushing the football will remain important in Atlanta.
By becoming one of the best blocking receivers in the game, Jones will no doubt see his targets go up just as they did with White.
It goes without saying, but health will determine if Jones becomes Ryan's No. 1 target.
In White's eight years in the league, he hasn't missed a game. Pain or not, White is all but guaranteed to be on the field on Sundays.
Jones is going to have to develop that same mentality, although you can't help some things. While Jones missed three games and parts of others due to injury, the Falcons certainly felt it on the field.
As a No. 1 receiver, your job is to be on the field unless you're in the hospital.
Staying on the field not only helps your team, but also gives you more chances to prove you're the best.
Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens have two things in common—both think highly of themselves and both are out of the NFL.
While both receivers are great in their own right, their egos got in the way of teams actually wanting them.
While Johnson and Owens provided entertainment value for fans, where has it got them lately? Johnson was cut by the Miami Dolphins this preseason due to off-field trouble, while Owens simply stunk for the Seattle Seahawks.
I wonder if Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin would have kept Johnson after his arrest had there not already been issues with his ego.
It's important for Jones to stay humble, and according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he has done exactly that: "Jones is quiet. He is humble. He doesn’t spend every waking minute tripping over his ego, his tongue or his Tweets."
When a receiver is humble and doesn't think he's the best, he goes to work every day to improve. One thing is for sure in the NFL—if you don't improve, the other guy will.
The next thing you know, you'll be all alone like Owens and Johnson.
While Jones could be the No. 1 receiver on most NFL teams, it is ultimately beneficial that he has White to teach him how to play the position at the highest level in Atlanta.
By the time White leaves the Falcons or retires, Jones will be one of the leaders on the team.
Patience is always important in the development of any football player. To go out and believe you should be the No. 1 guy is unthinkable at the wide receiver position. Only a few guys have actually done it, mainly because of necessity.
Jones will be Ryan's No. 1 target one day. It may not be this year or next year, but it will be soon.
He has too much talent to not be a No. 1 receiver, but rushing things won't help.
With patience, Jones could develop into one of the best receivers this game has ever seen.
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