Falcons OC wants more red-zone targets for Julio Jones


As the newly installed playcaller for Atlanta's high-powered offense, Steve Sarkisian wants to do more than simply copy what Kyle Shanahan left behind.

"The competitor in me is, 'How far can we take it?'" Sarkisian said Wednesday, per ESPN's Vaughn McClure.

It's hard to imagine the Falcons vastly improving off of last year's whirlwind attack, but when asked for ideas, Sarkisian did point out one area that could use an uptick: The use of All-Pro wideout Julio Jones in the red zone.

In 2016, Jones nabbed four red-zone receptions off just eight targets, far behind running back Devonta Freeman (12 catches off 16 targets) and receiver Mohamed Sanu (nine receptions off 11 targets). Naturally, Jones faced endless double coverage near the end zone, but Sarkisian believes opportunity exists for more production.

"I think, No. 1, they were still very good in the red zone," Sarkisian said of Atlanta's offense. "But when you have a player like Julio, it's making sure we maximize his opportunities because there is so much double coverage, there are so many unique coverages that roll his way that when we don't get that, let's make sure he's one of the primary receivers on that play because it is such a tough matchup for anybody one on one."

While more targets for Jones would please fantasy owners, Falcons fans just want to see Sarkisian keep the train moving. That alone will be no easy task for a coach yet to call plays at the NFL level.