Rob Moore sees it too. In his mind’s eye it is easy for him to imagine A.J. Brown and Julio Jones will be one of the NFL’s most potent and prolific wide receiver duos this season.
As their position coach, though, it is his job to help make that vision a reality.
“I think they’ll help each other out a great deal,” the Tennessee Titans wide receivers coach said. “But at the end of the day, it’s really about getting both those guys to play at an extremely high level so that we can take advantage of some of those opportunities.
“As we develop and we continue to put in the work that is necessary, I think they can be a formidable tandem throughout this league.”
Brown and Jones know what it is like to be part of productive duos at their position. A third-year veteran, Brown teamed with Corey Davis to make the Titans one of two NFL teams (Seattle was the other) with two of the top 20 in receiving yards last season. In nine seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Jones topped 1,000 yards receiving seven times, and twice he had a teammate hit that milestone in the same season (Roddy White in 2012 and Harry Douglas in 2013).
The two got paired when the Titans acquired Jones in a trade back in May. Ever since, minds have raced with thoughts of what they might accomplish in tandem.
“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to be able to step on the field with somebody like (Jones), and you understand the problems that it causes defenses,” Moore said. “… I think at the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to for me: How do we best utilize Julio’s skillset and everything that he brings? You get him and (Brown) on the field at the same time … opposing defenses are going to have some decisions to make.”
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Tennessee has a run-heavy offense that features two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry. There is also a new offensive coordinator, Todd Downing, after Arthur Smith became head coach of Jones’ former team in Atlanta.
All of it raises questions about whether Brown and Jones, who have eight Pro Bowl appearances between them, can produce at the level to which they’re accustomed or whether they will be in constant competition with one another for the passes that are thrown.
Moore, though, knows full well what is possible with two elite receivers on the same team.
As a player for the Arizona Cardinals in 1997, he was one-half of a 1,000-yard receiving tandem on an offense that finished last in the NFL. Conversely, he was wide receivers coach with the then-Oakland Raiders in 2016 when two of his players, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, each topped 1,000 yards receiving for a team that ranked sixth in rushing.
“You add Derrick Henry into the mix and some of these other guys that are emerging offensively,” Moore said, “that is probably the thing I’m looking forward to the most is just seeing how it looks on Sunday when it counts.”