Pat O’Hara can’t deny that having Julio Jones in the wide receiver room helps his position group.
However, the Tennessee Titans quarterbacks coach knows that for Ryan Tannehill and Co. to get the most out of the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, a figurative connection must be made before they start connecting on passes.
“Obviously he’s a great player. And I think what’s for now is just developing that understanding amongst each other as a whole offense,” O’Hara said. “We all have a lot of work to do before we all get on the same page.”
Tannehill already has the jump on getting to know Jones, acquired by Tennessee last week in a trade with Atlanta. The two made it a point to go to dinner together after Jones arrived in Nashville. And both attended voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) last week to begin to build their on-field chemistry.
O’Hara wasn’t shocked by the quarterback’s actions. Tannehill is a leader on the team, and he typically takes it upon himself to welcome new teammates to town. With Jones, it has been no different.
“It doesn’t surprise me, knowing Ryan. Ryan’s a leader of our football team. It doesn’t surprise me that they have started to develop a relationship,” O’Hara said. “As we get to know Julio more and more, he’s a true pro. He’s happy to be here, so it’s a good situation so far.”
Jones spoke of his budding chemistry with Tannehill after OTAs on June 11. He expressed his belief that it shouldn’t take too long before the two see things the same way in how the offense functions.
Tannehill expressed similar excitement, praising Jones’ ability to get open downfield and lauding the potential the offense possesses when he and Jones get in sync.
“It’ll be a learning process for the both of us,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “He’s got a lot of talent, and he’s made a bunch of big plays over the course of his career. But we have to get on the same page and make sure we are on point with everything that we’re going to ask him to do here in Tennessee.”
Jones’ addition brings explosiveness, excitement and experience to the Titans’ offense. However, one of the biggest benefits, according to Tannehill, is the literal size he adds to the receiver group and not just his outsized reputation.
At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Jones is larger than the average NFL wide receiver. Receivers with larger catching windows give Tannehill more room to thread the needle downfield. And that adds another dimension to an already menacing Tennessee offense.
“There’s a lot of benefits to having a big target,” Tannehill said. “You have range and a bigger catching radius. They can use their bodies to create separation, and if it’s tight coverage, you have space to throw it away from a defender, and they’ll still be able to make a play on it.”
It may take some time for Tannehill and Jones to get to know one another. That’s OK. They’re working on it. And Tannehill and O’Hara both acknowledge it won’t happen overnight.
“It’s going to take hundreds of those little small communications,” Tannehill said. “It’s got to be constant communication, fine-tuning things, and making sure we are seeing things the same way.”
The saying goes that good things come to those who wait. And once trust and chemistry are established between Tannehill and Jones, the Titans’ offense has the potential to measure up to the league’s best.
“There are different ways to use different body types within an offense,” O’Hara said. “Whether you’re throwing the ball deep, or throwing it short, or even running the ball, you try to find ways to win, the surest way.”
To that end, Tannehill wants to be sure he knows all about Jones.