When the Baltimore Ravens brought in former Houston Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones to be the team's third wide receiving option, many fans scoffed at the idea. In Houston, Jones never really lived up to the lofty expectations that the front office and the coaching staff expected of him so, of course, the fans here in Charm City questioned the idea of how he could help the Ravens blossoming passing game.
Jones is a physical specimen standing 6'2" and weighing in at 214 pounds of pure muscle. Couple that with his blazing speed and you have every offensive coordinators dream wide-out. Of course, this is why the Texans drafted him 73rd over all in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft. For some reason however, Jones never accomplished the on field prowess that the Texans hoped he would as the bookend to All-World wide out Andre Johnson. In 2009 Jones amassed 437 yards on 27 catches with six touchdowns, not bad. Then in 2010 he nearly doubled his receptions with 51 and gained 562 yards through the air but only found the end zone three times.
Last season his numbers were comparable to those of 2010 with over 512 yards through the air and two scores. Unfortunately for Jones those numbers weren't good enough to keep him in a Texans uniform even though his production as a returner was still way above average. With Jones' combination of size and speed he is a true handful to bring down in the open field when he gets going at full speed. Despite his special teams prowess the Texans decided to part ways with the speedster and he became a free agent.
That is when the Baltimore Ravens swooped in. After having much trouble finding a reliable third receiving option over the past few years they were looking for someone young enough with good size and speed that could also help out on special teams where things in Baltimore had not been so special over the past two seasons. The Ravens signed Jacoby to a two year deal worth a reported $7 million, a figure that stunned most Ravens fans considering the depth the team seemed to have with their young wide receivers. The move was considered to be mostly special teams oriented and anything extra he could bring to the offense would be a bonus.
Well, here we are three games into the season and Jones has become a key cog in this Ravens receiving core. He has shown that he can beat one-on-one coverage consistently and has shown great hands, vision and route running ability in his time on the field, consistently becoming open down-field in key situations for big gains. Although he has only one touchdown to his credit so far he has been targeted many times and drew an extremely important pass interference penalty in the game winning drive this past game against New England.
One of the biggest surprises is that Jones has not been returning kickoffs at all for Baltimore. That duty has been bestowed upon young rookie wide receiver Deonte Thompson who has done quite well with it so far. Maybe the Ravens think Jacoby is too important a player to lose due to a special teams injury at this point or maybe they are just trying to get the talented and speedy Thompson some time on the field but the Ravens have seemed to have gotten themselves a fine receiver in Jacoby Jones for what has turned out to be quite a bargain.
I'm not sure if the Ravens really care who is listed as the number one, two and three receivers in the first place but I wouldn't be surprised to see Jacoby Jones right up near the top of the team in targets when all is said and done. He'll probably end up right at the top in Red Zone targets as well.