Work with Robiskie turns Falcons' Jones into top receiver
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Nearly every time Julio Jones reports to work, the second-year Atlanta receiver seeks out position coach Terry Robiskie.
Jones wouldn't have it any other way.
“Terry isn't going to sugarcoat anything,” Jones said on Friday. “If you mess up, you mess up, but he's going to show you how to correct it and what you need to look for.”
On the sideline during games and at practice, Jones is likely standing next to his coach constantly to ask questions and get advice. Their conversations are give-and-take, but both men say that it's never to the extent that Jones complains about being misunderstood.
Rather, Robiskie wants to know exactly what Jones sees before the snap and what his reason is for the technique he uses to create separation from a cornerback.
It's a formula that's worked well for the Falcons (13-3) heading into their divisional playoff game against Seattle (12-5) on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
Jones, 23, has become the deep-ball threat that Atlanta needed before general manager Thomas Dimitroff traded up 21 spots to draft him sixth overall two years ago.
This year, Jones leads the Falcons with 10 touchdown catches, and he and Roddy White comprised one of four two-man tandems to each have at least 1,000 yards receiving.
But the lessons keep on coming.
“Being as young as he is, he's still got to focus on the game plan — what's the call, where do I go coming out of the huddle, what direction do I go, what route do I have, do I go inside, do I go outside?” Robiskie said.
“During the course of the ballgame with him, I've got to focus on the guy across from him and let him, ‘Here's what they're doing to defend you.' ”
Their work on the field begins each day before practice starts as Robiskie puts the receivers through sideline and end-zone line drills. The purpose is for each receiver to keep his feet in bounds while trying to catch balls that Robiskie purposely throws slightly out of reach.
It's a drill Robiskie has used over the last 30-plus years of working in the NFL.
Jones showed how the work has paid off three weeks ago at Detroit as he reached out to catch quarterback Matt Ryan's pass in the right corner of the end zone and dragged his right foot while clutching the ball against the left side of his chest.
The 16-yard catch gave the Falcons a 21-3 lead late in the second quarter, but Jones' athleticism was only part of play's success. It took long hours on the field for the technique to seem like second nature.
“Practice makes perfect, man,” Jones said. “You've got to continue to keep doing the little things so that it becomes easy to you when you're in the game.”