FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, who delivered an emotional locker room message that included support for embattled coach Dan Quinn following last Sunday’s 37-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, explained the reason by his impromptu speech.
“It’s just one of those things; it’s just a team thing, that’s all it is,” Jones told reporters Thursday. “Guys look up at me, look toward me in those situations. We’re just trying to figure out things. That’s all it was.”
WSB-TV Atlanta first reported how Jones interrupted Quinn following the coach’s postgame talk to shoulder some of the burden for a 1-6 start, which includes the Falcons’ current five-game losing streak. Quinn’s job is in jeopardy, and most assume it has become a lost season for the Falcons, particularly after the team traded popular receiver Mohamed Sanu to New England in exchange for a 2020 second-round draft pick.
“Well, at the end of the day, we’re out there on the field. Coach Quinn is not on the field,” Jones said. “I don’t know as far as defensive calls and things like that, how he does that, but the effort is there. I just feel like us, as competitors and professionals, we can do a better job of going out there and gelling together more.”
Jones emphasized how he believes the effort is there from his teammates on a weekly basis even despite the record.
“Absolutely. I believe in everybody here, the effort they’re giving,” Jones said. “But they only know how much effort they’re giving. It can look good, but if you got more, it’s on you to give more and do your part. From what I see, everybody’s been doing a great job as far as going out here fighting.”
The strong words last Sunday from the typically reserved Jones resonated with his teammates and coaches, who appreciated him speaking up in such fashion.
“For me, it’s just being a leader day in and day out,” Jones said. “Doing everything the right way and trying to do everything the right way. Nobody’s perfect. Just my approach to the game and just playing for one another.”
Asked what compelled him to speak up at that particular moment, Jones responded, “Just being here for nine years, different guys in and out, we have the team to be good and be great. The ball hasn’t been bouncing our way lately. And it’s just one of those things letting guys know that we’re all in here together.
“When the times get tough, you can play the blame game and things like that. None of that has happened. But I just didn’t want it to get to that point where guys are down on themselves, not trusting their routines. … We just talked.”
Quinn praised Jones for the speech.
“The team knows him from the leading style that he is,” Quinn said. “It is always important during the hardest moments that people step up and you are the strongest that you can be. He is such an impactful guy on this team, not just offensively. I think that is what is so unique about him.
“There are some guys who may just be a leader on the offense. Well, he is a leader on this football team. When you talk about the connecting of everybody, he is right there in the middle, front and center of that. Sometimes that leadership gets pushed to the quarterback, and certainly our team it does with Matt Ryan, but there are other players who have this connection with the entire team. None of them does it stronger than No. 11.”
Jones and the Falcons will attempt to rebound Sunday at home against the Seattle Seahawks, perhaps without Ryan. He has been held out of practice the last two days with a sprained right ankle, although Ryan has been spotted walking around without a boot. Matt Schaub would start if Ryan is unable to play.