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The Falcons' Julio Jones on more looks in the red zone: 'Dial it up'

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Julio Jones doesn't need to be reminded that of his six touchdowns in the 2016 season, only two were in the red zone.

He's aware of it, and so is offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.


Ever since his arrival in Atlanta last February, Sarkisian has said his focus is not to maintain the success the Falcons had offensively last season, but to make it better.

And that task starts with Sarkisian's ability to find new ways to feature his players, one of those being his Pro Bowl wide receiver, Jones.

"Can we get better on third down? Can we get better in the red zone? Is there a way to get Julio more touches in the red zone and finding those matchups," Sarkisian said this offseason.

The Falcons had the league's No. 1 scoring offense in 2016, averaging 33.8 points a game. Of their 63 red-zone drives, Atlanta scored on 58 of them -- 39 of those were touchdowns.

Only two of those 39 red-zone touchdowns belonged to Jones.

Going into his seventh season, Jones is more than aware of the attention he gets from opponents. More often than not, Jones draws double coverage in the red zone, limiting the times Matt Ryan is able to go to him.

Improving in the red zone is something the Falcons have emphasized often at practice, often featuring looks to Jones.

The All-Pro receiver has proven that he'll make the most of any assignment he's given. And that's exactly what he plans to do.

"I'm going to take what they give me," Jones said. "I'm not going to say, 'no, don't give it to me.' If [Steve Sarkisian is] willing to dial it up, dial it up. We'll see what the defense gives us."

Jones has been complimentary of the way Sarkisian is featuring him on the field, giving him different routes, and what the Falcons hope are more opportunities to succeed.

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