2016 unit-by-unit analysis: The wide receivers

Here's Falcons receiver Julio Jones’ spectacular catch that nearly saved the Falcons from their Super Bowl collapse. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Here’s Falcons receiver Julio Jones’ spectacular catch that nearly saved the Falcons from their Super Bowl collapse. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons reclaimed the NFC South title and became NFC champions for just the second time in franchise history.

The Falcons, calling themselves a Brotherhood, had a major breakthrough in Dan Quinn’s second season as head coach before collapsing in the Super Bowl LI in grand fashion against New England by blowing a 25-point lead.

The offense soared to new heights and the young and marauding defense made great strides over the course of the season, but that didn’t keep defensive coordinator Richard Smith and Bryan Cox from being fired.

Here’s the third installment of our unit-by-unit review of the 2016 team. Yesterday, we took a look at the quarterbacks. Earlier today, the running backs. Here’s a look at the wide receivers:

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

WIDE RECEIVERS

Who: Starters – Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Backups – Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams, Devin Fuller (injured reserve) and Eric Weems.



Contract/free agent situation: Gabriel is a restricted free agent. Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Weems is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

What they did in season: The dynamic Jones turned in another spectacular season with 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdown catches. He was slowed throughout the season by a turf toe injury, foot and shoulder ailments. He missed only two games while fighting through the injuries. He was fine with being a decoy on some days when teams attempted to take him away. Sanu was a strong free agent pickup. He had a career-high 59 catches for 653 yards and four touchdowns. Claiming Gabriel off of waivers was a strong move as he added a spark to the offense with his speed and toughness. Robinson and Hardy made some contributions and Weems was mainly the returner.

What they did in postseason:  Jones has 19 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns. He made a spectacular catch in the Super Bowl to move the Falcons to the 22-yard with 4:40 to play. Sanu added three touchdowns in the playoffs. Gabriel average 19 yards a catch on nine catches.

Comment: Assistant head coach coach/wide receivers Raheem Morris was in his first season on the offensive side of the ball. His players were productive and helped to carry the offense.

RYAN’S MESSAGE TO THE FANS

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