Heading into the last meeting between the Bucs and Falcons, Julio Jones was listed as a game-changer due to his six 100-yard games and eight touchdowns in ten career games against Tampa Bay. All he did in the latest matchup was catch twelve passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He torched the Bucs in that game, beating them almost single-handedly. Tampa Bay failed to adjust defensively, leading to Jones smashing the record for most receiving yards by a Buccaneer opponent.
On Monday night, the Bucs need an answer for Jones. They didn’t have one back in November, leaving him one-on-one far too often. And even worse, they left second-year cornerback Ryan Smith out to dry. They failed to move their top corner over to take care of Jones. The excuse for that was poor. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith said he wouldn’t move Brent Grimes over to cover Jones because Atlanta moves its star receiver around too much. The following week, though, Minnesota stuck Xavier Rhodes on Jones and he held him to two catches for 24 yards. Interesting concept, no?
Holding Jones to two catches is an unrealistic expectation, but Tampa Bay has to do a better job of keeping him in check this time around. The Bucs don’t have a lot of hope when it comes to winning this game. However, their only glimmer of hope comes in locking Jones down. If he has another day like he did back on Nov. 26, the Falcons will run away with another win.