He might not know all the plays but his speed and presence makes defenses think twice and all he needs is an open space to make defenders pay.
Not necessarily. Because if Julio is getting a bunch of reps when Michael Palmer and Reggie Kelly are essentially the No. 4 and No. 5 options in the passing game, he's not really opening up things for them. But if the Falcons did a better job of making it so that instead Douglas and Weems are the 4th and 5th options in the passing game, his presence on the outside could open things up.
All things being equal, Julio should definitely make our offense better because unlike all of our receivers not named Sharod and Anthony, he can beat man coverage fairly consistently. But the problem is that when the Falcons go to their conservative Mularkey -style offense that relies on its individual receivers beating man coverage, they may not be as good offensively compared to when they tend to spread the field, go with lesser wideouts like HD and Weems and instead often rely on route combos to open up opportunties for those guys.
Just saying it's probably not a coincidence that Harry Douglas has had 4 of his 7 best games (based on yardage) this year in the games that Jones has altogether missed or missed the majority of. And while no one is going to contend that Douglas is as good a player as Jones is, but it didn't look like the Falcons ability to move the ball and Ryan to pass successfully in those games (Carolina, Detroit, New Orleans, and Tennessee) didn't seem like it was diminished. Also the same applies to Weems having the 3rd and 4th best games of his career the past two weeks.
So it begs the question that why don't Weems and Douglas get involved in the offense when Jones is in the lineup. In those 3 games Jones has missed plus the 2nd half of the Saints game, Douglas was targeted a combined 28 times, an average of about 8 targets per game. Jones has been targeted 51 times in his 6.5 appearances, an average of 7.8 targets per game. In the 6.5 games Jones has played in, Douglas has been targeted 19 times, or 2.9 per game.
Btw, Douglas has caught 60.7% of his 28 targets in games where Jones has missed. Jones has caught 58.8% of his 51 targets in the other games.
Not to mention, Ryan posted some of his best ESPN QBRs of the season in the games Jones missed.
Again, I'm aware that logic dictates that because Jones is a better player, thus the offense would be better with him in the lineup. But there seems to be substantial evidence to suggest that there is no dropoff when he is not in the lineup. So how do we explain? Just a trick of statistics? Or is there something to it? I think there is something to it, because it also seems to meet the eyeball test that the Falcons haven't really been hurt that much over the last month when Jones has been on the sidelines. And if there is something to it, I'm betting it's because the Falcons play design is slightly different (possibly better) when Jones is out of the lineup, which offsets the gulf in ability that is clearly there between him and Douglas.
Again, I'm not completely sold on this little theory of mine, just throwing it out there for consideration.