COMMENTARY | Jacoby Jones has become a celebrity, though that has more to do with his stint on Dancing With the Stars than his production on the football field. In fact, Jones has never exceeded 600 yards receiving in a season in his career. Yet, despite his lack of career production, the charismatic Jones is the right man to replace Anquan Boldin in Baltimore, finally becoming a celebrity for his on-field production.
Jones can succeed in Baltimore in a way he never could in Houston for multiple reasons.
First, Joe Flacco is just the quarterback to help Jones reach his potential as a deep threat. In Houston, Jones caught passes from Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels and T.J. Yates. Though Schaub is a solid quarterback, he doesn't possess the rocket arm needed to take advantage of Jones' field stretching speed. Flacco does, guaranteeing that Jones will catch a few rainbows this season in his second year in Baltimore.
Jones and Flacco already started to gel last season, especially in the playoffs. On just 11 targets in the playoffs, Jones racked up 147 yards. Of course, 147 yards in four games hardly translates to elite numbers over a 16 game season, but keep in mind that Jones was used almost exclusively on deeper passes. Given a larger role this season, Jones' targets would definitely increase, and in turn, his yardage totals.
A new commitment to the short passing game should also work in Jones' favor. As a star kick and punt returner, Jones excels in the open field. The Ravens have historically struggled with the short passing game, but Jim Caldwell is committed to improving the Ravens in this area. With shifty guys like Jones, Torrey Smith, Deonte Thompson and Ray Rice at his disposal, Caldwell is wise to focus on getting the ball to his playmakers in space. All of these guys, including Jones, will benefit.
Finally, and this is an oft-forgotten fact, Jones is still young. He'll be 29 this season, entering his seventh season in the league. Jones was a raw project coming out of Lane College, but six years of experience have allowed him to find his niche in the NFL. Now, Jones is one of the most feared returners and deep threats in the league. He has only to put all his skills together as a receiver.
Critics will point out that Jones struggled in a similar opportunity in Houston, and indeed he did. In two years as an occasional starter in Houston, Jones racked up just 82 combined catches. The Ravens need more production than that from a starting receiver.
In fairness to Jones, though, the Texans have always struggled finding a receiver to play opposite Andre Johnson. Their No. 2 receiving position seems cursed, so one can't blame Jones too much for his failure.
In reality, Jones is just a better fit in Baltimore than he was in Houston. His speed makes him the deep threat the Ravens covet, while his shiftiness should allow him to make plays in the short passing game as well.
He might not be Anquan Boldin, but Jones is ready to step in to a starting role. Jones finally has a chance to make good on the promise he has hinted at throughout his career.
Shawn Brubaker lives in Washington, DC. He has been a Baltimore Ravens featured columnist for Bleacher Report for two years and has been published in a variety of other publications.
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