Julio Jones has, without a doubt, made a substantial impact in each of Atlanta's last four games. This was obvious during the first three weeks of 2015, when he tallied 34 catches, 440 receiving yards and four touchdowns to go along with early MVP consideration. And, though he finished with just 38 total yards against Houston, Jones' mere presence helped the Falcons score 49 points—a season-high.
For evidence of this, look no further than Leonard Hankerson's production.
Hankerson, who enjoyed a lot of single coverage versus the Texans, amassed six grabs for 106 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. 55 of those yards came on a single reception, which likely wouldn't have resulted in a substantial gain if not for the attention placed on Jones. Because Houston's free safety shifted outside to help cover No. 11 off the snap, he put himself out of position to track down Hankerson.
Houston finally brought him down at the six yard line. Devonta Freeman scored on the next play.
"Julio, he's a great player. Him just being out there, he helps out all of us," said Hankerson. "Just to be able to make some plays, help this team out—it feels good. You can't act like (Jones) isn't there. The type of player he is, the defensive coordinators, they dream about him. So you have to call a defense that's going to double-team him. And that helps out everybody."
Hankerson has quietly gotten off to a great start in Atlanta and, a few drops notwithstanding, has been a reliable No. 2 WR. Matt Ryan's enjoyed throwing to the University of Miami graduate and has a 116.4 passer rating when targeting him.
"For sure, he's one of the guys that we count on," Quinn said about Hankerson, who's on pace to finish the regular season with 941 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. "That catching radius that he has is one of the things that sets him apart. I think he runs really good routes.
"He's a tough cover for us. Anytime there's going to be some extra attention sent over to another guy on our team sometimes the benefit will come back towards him. I think all of those things are a big part of why he's doing so well."