FOXOBORO, Mass. -- Julio Jones acknowledged there was a moment during the Atlanta Falcons' 23-7 loss to the New England Patriots when he huddled with Matt Ryan, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel on the sideline in an intense discussion.
Jones emphasized it was a discussion, not an argument or a blame session.
"We wasn't frustrated at all," Jones said. "It's probably one of those things, we were just trying to get on the same page. That was it. Using words like 'frustrating,' we're never frustrated. It's a process. We're going to work. We're going to try to get it done. We don't like gray area."
Maybe Jones didn't raise his voice Sunday, but perhaps he should have. The Falcons are failing to play up to their full capabilities on offense coming off a season where they led the league in scoring at 33.8 points per game. They average 22.8 points per game and had a 91-minute, 20-second scoring drought from the second quarter of the Miami Dolphins game until the fourth quarter against New England. That's hard to fathom from a team that scored 30 or more points in 13 games last season.
Yes, the Falcons did get Jones more involved against the Patriots, particularly in the red zone. He scored his first touchdown of the season and caught nine passes for 99 yards on a season-high 13 targets. But the offense still sputtered, running just 56 plays and not sustaining drives, which kept the defense on the field that much longer.
Many would point to new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as the biggest problem, especially after Sarkisian called a jet sweep to Taylor Gabriel on a fourth-and-goal play at the 1 that lost five yards. But the players continue to stand firmly behind Sarkisian. Jones was asked if he has a good connection with Sarkisian.
"Yeah, everybody [does]," Jones said. "No doubt. ... Yeah, he's good."
But the offense certainly hasn't been "good" through six games. Jones admitted himself "we're just not on the same page yet," in dissecting the offensive woes. Such was expected coming into the season, with players getting adjusted to the new wrinkles implemented by Sarkisian and guys such as Jones (foot surgery) and Gabriel (lower leg) missing valuable offseason and preseason work with Ryan due to injury. But six games into the season, most figured the Falcons would take a step forward offensively, not regress. Their scoring output has gone down every week since Week 2: from 34 to 30 to 23 to 20 to 7.
"I've played in this league long enough to know that, one, it's hard to win games and, two, it's a tall task to be productive week in and week out," Ryan said. "It takes a lot of hard work. We haven't been as productive as I think we're capable of being. From a players' standpoint, I feel like it comes down to missed opportunities. ... I sound like a little bit of a broken record for the first couple weeks of the season, but when we got our chances, we have to make plays. And we haven't done a good job of that."
Ryan, who completed 22 of 33 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown to Jones against the Patriots, was off on his throws, including consecutive ones to Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the red zone.
"I had a chance on third down to Mohamed Sanu in the red zone," Ryan said. "I thought he ran a good route and just overthrew him by a hair. … That's a play I can make. And when you're playing a good football team like that, those are the tight coverage throws that you've got to hit."
Most of the players continue to use the same clichés about getting better every week, taking it one game at a time, and not reflecting on last year. Jones' comment about not being on the same page was as honest as it got, though Jones didn't single anyone out.
"I'm a grown man. Of course if I want to raise my voice, I raise my voice," Jones said. "But I don't need to. We good. We're men. We talk to each other."
It looks like the Falcons need to talk it out a little bit more before the season continues a downward spiral, with a current three-game losing streak going into next week's road matchup with the New York Jets.
"I think it's all of us: Nobody can point fingers at nobody," Freeman said. "We just need to figure out ways to win. It's all three phases. … It ain't no fingers at nobody because [whenever] we win the Super Bowl, there isn't going to be any pointing fingers at how good we were."