It took just three games, but Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones has already surpassed the production that the team got from its No. 3 receiver spot last season. With three catches for 86 yards in the 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night, Jones now had seven catches for 153 receiving yards and a touchdown.
In 2011, the Ravens got just eight catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns from Lee Evans, whom they acquired from the Buffalo Bills in a late-summer trade, and LaQuan Williams, who subbed while Evans was sidelined with an ankle injury -- and those eight catches came on 38 total targets. Evans, who never seemed to get in sync with quarterback Joe Flacco after his injury, caught just 15 percent of the passes thrown his way.
But the offseason signing of Jones has made an impact of the offense that extends beyond box scores. Even if Jones is only getting a few looks per game, his presence has opened things up for teammates. With Jones and second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith streaking down the sidelines, there has been more room for short and intermediate throws to wide receiver Anquan Boldin, running back Ray Rice and tight end Dennis Pitta.
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“He’s a great athlete, has some speed on the outside,” Flacco said after Sunday's game. “Besides the fact that he and Torrey can take plays on the outside, they really free the other guys up underneath and let them go to work in man-to-man coverage and let Ray [Rice] go to work, and that just helps our whole offense out.”
The presence of those other guys, though, has meant that Jones has only been on the field for 40 percent of the offensive snaps. He got a season-high 30 against the Patriots after playing 27 apiece against the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals. He has made the most of his time, averaging 21.9 yards per catch and drawing a key pass interference penalty late in Sunday’s game.
Last week, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron talked about how those kinds of “game-changing plays” impact his teammates.
“It’s just been huge, because you see the vertical threat, and his route technique, and his experience, his energy, his confidence,” Cameron said of the former Houston Texan. “He picked up the system pretty seamlessly. I think that was huge. That’s the one thing you never really know how a guy can pick the system up.”
Jones has fit in well here with his energy and brash personality. He strutted after that pass interference penalty Sunday, and two days later, he was on NFL Network comparing Thursday’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns, to a “pregnant possum.” But as long as he keeps letting his play speak for itself whenever his number is called, Jones will prove to be a wise addition for the Ravens.