NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans wide receiver Julio Jones has already made a positive first impression with his new team.
Jones has averaged 9.85 targets per game over the 134 starts he made for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s highly unlikely that Jones will see the same volume of passes come his way with the Titans, but that doesn’t bother him.
“At the end of the day, you want to create a winning culture. However you need to do it, you have to get the job done. My whole career I’ve never been a stat guy. I’m a team guy. Whatever they need from me I’m going to do and I will enjoy playing my role at a high level,” Jones said on his first Zoom news conference with the media.
Even though he “isn’t a stats guy,” Jones has posted some eye-popping numbers over his 10-year career. Jones’ career totals of 848 receptions, 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns are already Hall of Fame worthy.
Coming to the Titans is likely going to give Jones an opportunity to add to his three career 100-plus reception seasons. But it also will give him a chance to win. That was the primary selling point for general manager Jon Robinson when he spoke to Jones about the adjustment to the Titans scheme, which revolves around All-Pro running back Derrick Henry.
“In my discussion with Julio, his No. 1 goal wasn’t about targets. His goal is to win, whether it takes nine targets, two targets or none. That’s the mindset that he has and the mindset that we want here,” Robinson said.
Added Mike Vrabel, “We have expectations here and we’re going to treat any player the same way they treat the team. That’s no different for Julio or for Racey McMath. That’s what we believe in. We try to make out expectations here clear and be direct with the players and get them to understand the way that we do things.”
Henry’s a big part of the offense and that’s not going to change, according to Robinson. The 6-foot-3, 247-pound back has carried the football an NFL-high 381 times over the last two seasons. As a result, the Titans have faced eight-man fronts on 23% of their snaps according to ESPN Stats & Info. That’s more than any other team in the league.
The focus on stopping the rushing attack will give the Titans’ receivers more opportunities to face single coverage. Henry rushed for 2,027 yards last year. Yet A.J. Brown finished 1,075 receiving yards and Corey Davis checked in with 984 yards.
Inserting Jones into the lineup gives Tennessee a more threatening game-changer alongside Brown in the passing game. Jones said teams will have to “pick their poison” when trying to defend the Titans’ offense. Asking defensive backs to cover Jones or Brown without any help is a tall order.
Although Jones is 32 years old and coming off of an injury, he has a special message for those who are doubting him.
“Stay tuned,” he said.