It was a trade that shocked many in the XCFL community. Not often do you see an elite wide receiver in the prime of their career traded, especially with little to no injury or off-the-field issues. All things considered, it was an anomaly that the Arizona Cardinals front office (and fans) we’re excited to have fall into their lap.
That anomaly came in the form of superstar wide receiver Julio Jones, who through seven games seems to be fitting right in with the Cardinals offense. Jones, on the heels of a 7 TD campaign with Atlanta, has already matched his touchdown total from 2019. Through seven games, Jones has attributed for those 7 touchdowns along with 490 yards on 22 receptions. What’s different? Jones says it’s all in the preparation.
“We prepare with a specific game plan here,” Jones said after workouts on Monday. “It just feels like I’m a bit more important to the flow of this offense. We set the tone through DJ, and I’m there to facilitate that change of pace and spark when needed. It’s a big factor for sure. When I’m in the game plan, you can see what the results look like.”
He couldn’t be more right. The Cardinals offense has looked much better through the air this season, taking the onus off of superstar running back David Johnson.
“Julio has been great for us and we’re glad he’s a Cardinal now,” Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen said on Monday. “It’s a relief knowing we have a guy out there that can close the gap when I make a mistake. There have been two or three times already this season where I thought I just cost us a turnover or a punt, and he comes down with the thing. It’s really a big confidence booster.”
Rosen is definitely onto something, as drops were a big issue last season for the Cardinals. Despite suffering an injury in Week 6, Christian Kirk has now been relegated to the slot which is much more his comfort zone. With Jones as a true #1 on the other side and Kirk in the slot, it has allowed openings in coverage’s for speedsters JJ Nelson and John Brown.
It remains to be seen if the new-look Cardinals can make a return trip to the postseason. Currently, they sit at 4-3, which is keeping pace with the rest of the tough NFC West.