Julio Jones goes 4th straight game without TD, questions role in red zone

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Monday, December 7, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. --Atlantawide receiver Julio Jones seemed frustrated about his role in scoring situations on a day the Falcons struggled to score touchdowns.

The Falcons went just 1-for-3 in the red zone in a 23-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jones had eight catches for 93 yards and surpassed 100 catches for the season, but he did not have a touchdown for the fourth consecutive game.

Jones was asked why fade routes or jump balls were not called his way when such scoring opportunities arose.

"I just go out there and just do what I'm told to do," Jones said. "If we're getting those looks, I think they'll call those plays. But I don't know. I don't know what we're getting down there. I don't know what the thinking is as far as if we're going to throw the jump balls or if we're going to run the ball or whatever look we're getting down there. We practice throughout the week throwing jump balls, throwing fades, throwing all these little things. But when the game comes, you never know what's going to come up."

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the target of much outside scrutiny, has stood by his play calling. Defenses have schemed to take Jones out of the action. But there have been times when one would figure Jones would get a look rather than guys such as Terron Ward(last week) or rookie Justin Hardy(in San Francisco). Then again, Shanahan's gamble to go to seldom-used Nick Williams paid off Sunday with a 6-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan off play-action across the formation.

Regardless, the Falcons are much better when Jones reaches the end zone. They are 3-1 in games in which Jones scored a touchdown.

On Sunday, Jones was targeted four times in the red zone, with two catches. He was not targeted in five goal-to-go situations.

Jones was the target on Ryan's interception with 1 minute, 39 seconds remaining in regulation, which sealed the win for the Buccaneers. Linebacker Lavonte David dropped deep to pick off a pass Ryan said he should not have thrown.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn believes the Falcons, at 6-6, can make the playoffs. But they won't if they don't score points.

"Our main focus is to score when we get in the red zone -- not field goals," Jones said. "We just have to get better in the red zone."

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