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Falcons Vs. Redskins: Julio Jones plays role of difference maker

When things weren't going to play Matt Ryan turned to Julio Jones, and it was enough.

Patrick Smith - Getty Images

Against the Washington Redskins he could do no wrong, and Julio Jones now continues his ascendance into being NFL elite.

On Sunday in Washington it was the connection between Matt Ryan and Julio Jones that was the difference maker. Early in the game the pass rush seemed to be getting the better of Ryan, entering Sunday's game as the league's best passer. Much like last week's contest with the Carolina Panthers, Ryan did not get adequate protection and was under duress regularly.

Then something happened-- he leaned on Julio Jones.

Finishing the day with 10 receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown, Jones was constantly open, and dominating cornerback Josh Wilson who was giving up size, speed, and athleticism to the Falcons' receiver. As time progresses we're seeing what role Jones plays in this offense, he's filling a similar role as Tony Gonzalez, but with more big play potential.

When Gonzalez arrived in Atlanta he quickly became Matt Ryan's safety blanket, sometimes to the offense's detriment. Oftentimes Ryan would pass on big plays in favor of safety, and that caused the passing game to be sometimes anemic. However, with Jones at WR it's clear he has a similar comfort level of that with Gonzalez, and looks for him in critical situations, but Julio offers the YAC ability to turn small gains into huge plays.

One of the questions this off-season was how the WR position would shake out for Atlanta. Between Roddy White and Julio Jones the Falcons have one of the most talented tandems in the league, and conventional wisdom dictated that sooner, or later one of them would need to become the true #1 receiver, thus far the offense is opperating bu committee just fine. White offers a deep threat, Gonzalez can get the critical short yards, and Jones can do a little of everything.

This Atlanta offense is varied, and hard to defend. If they can keep up their trivumverant of receivers, they'll be near-impossible to stop.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.