I am asking the same question that many other teams and fans will be asking: how will we stop Julio Jones? Or can we? I will personally be in attendance in Atlanta next Sunday at the Mercedes Benz Stadium watching the Buccaneers take on the Falcons. The Buccaneers need to find a way to contain the monster they call Jones.
The Buccaneers are currently second to last place in defending the pass, trailing the Kansas City Chiefs by 6 yards at 451.8 per game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank 29th in total yards given up. The Bucs do hold the 8th spot against the run, which is good—that means our front seven are doing their jobs.
Buccaneer fans, you can relax because I have the master plan on how to stop Julio Jones on Sunday. I will only share it with all of you, so listen up! I’m not going to continue to beat a dead horse by saying how important pass rush is against a non-mobile quarterback like Matt Ryan. The Buccaneers can play Jones one of two ways. One, play one corner in man coverage on Jones and have a man trail over the top against him to prevent a deep pass or a 50/50 ball. Two, play zone coverage with a man under Jones and another over Jones. My recommendation is option one because we have already shown that we are incapable of playing zone coverage. So the only option is to play man zone on Jones.
The contingency plan if that doesn’t work is to not bring any extra coverage to Julio Jones and force all other receiving threats to make plays by adding extra coverage to them. Jones is older and tends to be easily fatigued or injured.
The Buccaneers will either have to place Carlton Davis on Jones all game or play MJ Stewart on him all game. The reason I picked those two is because they play more physical than Ryan Smith, who is built for speed. The Falcons don’t have a huge threat at tight end, and if Freeman is still out with a knee injury, Jones will be the only superstar out there besides Matt Ryan. The Bucs need to steal a page from the NBA 2004 Detroit Pistons when they played the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Pistons knew they could not stop Shaq, but they could double Kobe and force one of the three to beat them.
Let us know what you thoughts in the comments below!