Falcons’ Julio Jones out for season (foot)
UPDATE (Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET): The Falcons announced that Julio Jones will have season-ending surgery on his foot Monday after doctors confirmed that he suffered a fracture.
It was bad enough for the Atlanta Falcons when they dropped to 1-4 on the season after losing 30-28 to the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, but the news just went from bad to worse. According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the Falcons fear that Jones, who suffered a foot injury in the game and was seen limping out of the X-ray room in the Georgia Dome (per NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington), may be out for the rest of the 2013 season with a foot injury. Darlington’s intel indicated that the problem was with Jones’ right leg or foot. Glazer reports that Jones will seek a second opinion on Wednesday from Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C. to confirm, but the team is not optimistic that the initial diagnosis will be overruled.
If it’s true, it’s a major blow to an offense that’s already been out of sync all season. Even in the loss to the Jets, Jones made the kinds of circus catches that have often been the only respite from Atlanta’s pass-heavy, predictable offense. He’s the team’s leading receiver, with 41 catches on 60 targets for 580 yards and two touchdowns. His nine plays of 20 yards or more is five more than any other Falcons player.
Jones’ bookend, Roddy White, has been dealing with ankle and hamstring issues this season and has just 14 catches for 129 yards and no touchdowns. Meanwhile, opposing defenses are making tight end Tony Gonzalez less of a threat by throwing as many as three defenders per play at him, and mugging him at the line of scrimmage, “Hack-a-Shaq” style. Without Jones as a deep threat, Gonzalez could find it even more difficult to get open.
“We just haven’t scored as much as we’ve needed to,” quarterback Matt Ryan said after the loss to the Jets. “We moved the ball pretty effectively tonight. We were a little bit better in the red zone, but we haven’t taken advantage of the situations when they present themselves the way that we need to. In order to win games in this league, when you have those opportunities to make big plays and to make those plays that change the course of the outcome, you have to make them. We didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
If Jones is out for any length of time — much less for the rest of the season — that job will be far tougher. After their bye week, the Falcons have a six-week stretch coming up in which they face the defenses of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay again and the New Orleans Saints. Only the Cardinals rank outside the top 10 in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted defensive metrics.