TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense will have their hands full on Monday night. They need to cover Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and they need to cover him well.
They failed to do it in Week 12 but will they learn from their mistakes in Week 15?
“We want to finish the season strong and get the win and send a message,” said Buccaneers defensive end Robert Ayers.
The Buccaneers lost to the Falcons only three weeks ago in part because they could not control Julio Jones.
“He is big, physical and fast,” said safety Justin Evans when asked about Jones. “[He has] great hands. He can catch in traffic. He has good routes.”
Julio Jones had 253 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers in their first battle. He had only scored one touchdown prior to playing the Buccaneers.
It was his best game by far this season. Consequently, the Buccaneers are now making adjustments.
“We do not want to run the things we ran last time that is for sure,” said Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
However, the new plan to corral Jones is not being discussed freely.
“I do not want to talk about how we are going to do it,” laughed Smith, “But we are planning on playing a lot better than we did the last time.”
The players did share their ideas with us.
Robert Ayers says they need to make it more difficult for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to throw the football to Jones.
“You got to hit [Ryan]. You got to disrupt him. You got to sack him. We got to move him off of his spot. We cannot make it easy for him,” said Ayers.
Justin Evans is hoping to put additional pressure on Jones.
“You just got to be locked onto him and that has got to be your main focus,” said Evans. “You just got to know where he is at all times and try to double him as many times as you can.”
Cornerback Brent Grimes says he simply wants to stick to the basics.
“You just have to play fundamental football,” he said. “That is what it is all about. Every game.”
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