Julio Jones has caused nothing but problems against the Buccaneers over the past four years. Will that trend continue Monday night?
Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Period. Although he’s having a down season when it comes to his stats, he is still a constant force to be reckoned with and he creates nothing but problems for opposing defensive coordinators. Especially those in charge of the Buccaneers’ defense.
In their last meeting, Jones went off for 253 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs’ coaching staff – including Jones’ former head coach and offensive coordinator – had absolutely no answer for him whatsoever. It was as if they were seeing him for the first time. Koetter had this to say in the day after press conference;
"“We didn’t handle Julio. We didn’t handle him at all. He had seven plays over 20 yards. It’s a combination of a lot of different stuff. We played 14 different coverages yesterday. We played 14 different coverages and none of them worked. We had everything from the cornerback falling down, to a linebacker running out of [his] zone, to not getting pressure on the quarterback, to double moves, to them high-lowing us in a two-deep coverage and throwing over the corner’s head – every way you can beat those different coverages, they all happened.”More from Bucs NewsDevin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on TwitterUpdated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicampTodd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with BucsThe Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023Todd Bowles admits he only looks at three things on Bucs schedule"
Now, of all those fourteen coverages, not one of them involved Brent Grimes shadowing him around the field? I mean, it would only make sense to have your best cover corner line up against the opponent’s best receiver when he’s absolutely roasting you, right?
But it’s not just this regime. In his past seven games against the Buccaneers, Jones has 61 receptions for 965 yards and seven touchdowns. He has a touchdown in five of the seven games, has gone over 100 yards in five of the seven games, and absolutely has the Bucs’ number.
Almost the way Steve Smith did for the Panthers for all those years.
If the Buccaneers are going to play spoiler on the night they honor Chucky, Mike Smith has to find a way to eliminate Jones from the Falcons’ offense. Easier said than done, sure. However, if we know anything about the 2017 Buccaneers, it’s that the team will likely play Jones the exact same way they did in November and expect the outcome to change.
Grimes isn’t playing at as high of a level as he did in 2016, but he is unquestionably the best chance they have at stopping – or at the very least slowing down – Jones from another monster game against Tampa Bay.
Check out the latest episode of Locked On Bucs below where we chat with Aaron Freeman of the Locked On Falcons podcast to discuss what we learned from the first meeting as well as three players to keep an eye on from each team.