If you don’t believe in superstitions and are one to often say such things as “that’s a coincidence” or “Kenny, was your plan really to make him sit in the basement for the whole rest of the game?” then you might as well click off now. For the rest of you, let's go on the journey of a superstitious sports fan who found numbers that form a trend and since there’s no such thing as coincidences, they have to mean something.
So for about a week now I’ve been preparing to write about how the Patriots should go about covering Julio Jones. It’s been one of the many topics of conversation leading up to the Super Bowl. Many seem to abide by the thinking that Belichick will look to take away Jones by doubling him, as he’s done with many #1 options in the past, and make the Falcons beat him using their other weapons. I’m here to tell Mr. Belichick, DON’T! Don’t do it! Shutting down Julio Jones is just what Kyle Shanahan wants you to do. Every time you shut down Julio Jones, Atlanta wins.
As I was doing my research trying to figure out how teams have shut down Julio Jones, I went over to Jones’ game log to find the teams that best shut him down this season. This season, Julio Jones has been held to 5 or fewer catches 7 times, in those games the Falcons are 6-1, 6-0 the last 6 times it’s happened.
You might think the alternative isn’t much better. Single cover him and let Julio win the game and Super Bowl MVP, or double him and lose the game anyways, but the numbers don’t seem to indicate a Julio heavy attack is necessarily a good thing for Atlanta. Atlanta went 1-4 in Julio Jones 5 highest receiving yardage games in the regular season, and their only win was Julio’s record setting 300 yard game. When Julio went for 113,135,139, and 174, the Falcons lost, and one of those games was to the CHARGERS!
Now, there are plenty of logical reasons that these numbers would come out this way that don’t involve the magical belief that when Julio Jones has bad games the Falcons will win. The most logical one being that the Falcons just have a lot of talented 2nd, 3rd, and 4th options, and that putting so much attention on Julio Jones puts all those players in great matchups. There’s also the belief that maybe when Julio is bringing Atlanta down to the 15 with one 50 yard gain, their offense never has a chance to get in a rhythm on that drive. Regardless of what it is exactly, those numbers seem to be pointing to something, and it seems likely shutting down Julio shouldn’t be a priority
Look, Mr. Belichick, I’m not trying to tell you how to run your team. If you wanna go out there and double team Julio Jones that’s fine. I’m simply providing you with information, and what you do with it is entirely up to you. But I will say this, if Julio Jones has between 133-174 yards, and you win, you know who to thank.