Everybody knows how A.J. Brown feels about having the opportunity to play alongside Julio Jones.
He’s electrified and exuberant. The Tennessee Titans wide receiver once had a picture of Jones in his locker. He said he uses Jones to gauge how he measures up to the best receivers in the game.
Thursday, during his first press conference since the Atlanta Falcons traded him to the Titans, Jones made it abundantly clear that the warm feelings run both ways.
“Very excited,” Jones said after his first practice with the team Thursday. “Just for us to be a one-two punch, or a one-one punch or however you want to look at it. He’s definitely the No. 1 receiver. Definitely a dog. Has that competitive nature in him.
“Just showing him the little things that I know from being in the league. He has it all. Just being able to play with him now, it’s going to be a very exciting season.”
Surely, Jones and Brown share the same excitement for what could be. The Titans' offense has a chance to be one of the most explosive in the league, right up there with Kansas City, Seattle, Buffalo, Dallas and others.
The possibilities seem endless. The popular question after the Titans traded for Jones: How will opposing teams handle that offense?
Jones has consistently produced Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy numbers over his 10 seasons with the Falcons. Among all active players, Jones ranks second in receiving yards (12,896), third in receptions (848) and 11th in touchdowns (60). He’s currently the all-time leader in yards per game with 95.5 on average. The seven-time Pro Bowler posted six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2014-2019 and has led the league in that category twice, including 2015 when he had 1,871, which is the second-highest single-season total in league history.
Sure, a hamstring injury limited him to 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games this past season. But he was still more productive than many teams’ No. 1 wide receiver.
Brown quickly has asserted himself as one of the top young wide receivers in the game. He went over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, earning his first career Pro Bowl selection this past season when he recorded 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The potential for the Titans’ offense goes well beyond the wide receiver duo to-be.
There’s running back Derrick Henry to account for too. Arguably the best player at his position, Henry has shown no signs of slowing down despite large workloads in each of the last two seasons (more than 300 carries in each). He has won the league’s rushing title in consecutive seasons and became the eighth member of the 2,000-yard club in 2020.
The Titans’ offense won’t change with two premier wide receivers. Henry will still get his. As Jones said, defenses seemingly face a decision with no correct answer.
“If you want to stay in the box with nine in the box, a guy like Derrick Henry in the backfield, you have to respect him. That’s when me and A.J. go to work outside,” Jones said. “If you want eight in the box, Derrick is going to go to work in the backfield.
“... You have to pick your poison at the end of the day.”
Jones and Brown aren’t new to each other. They have talked plenty in the past. Leading up to the trade, Brown heavily pushed for the Titans to make it happen on his social media platforms, making it known how badly he wanted to play with Jones.
“Just being under one roof, on the same team as one another, it’s kind of a dream,” Jones said. “What he doesn’t know is that I love to play with him as well. It’s definitely mutual in that sense.”
Brown and quarterback Ryan Tannehill recently had dinner with Jones. It was during that meeting when Jones picked his new jersey number (No. 2) and allowed Brown to keep No. 11, the number he donned for 10 seasons in Atlanta.
There’s no personal significance to the new number. Just like everything else for Jones these days, it’s something new. And perhaps, a message for opponents.
“He tried to give me 11. … I didn’t want it. That’s his number,” Jones said. “I just went with No. 2. Me, him, Derrick...1 plus 1 is two. Two times 11 is 22.
“It’s kind of like, ‘you are going to have to deal with us.’”