Jaguars: Can this team stop Julio Jones and the Falcons?
The Jaguars get set to face a Falcons offense that can still be as dangerous as any team in the NFL.
As Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash told the media on Thursday, the game his players played last Sunday in Oakland was one of the better efforts of the season. Now, the defense must turn around and do it again against one of the better passing attacks in the league.
The Atlanta Falcons, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, present a different challenge than many of the teams the Jaguars have faced in the second half of the 2019 season. An offense led by quarterback Matt Ryan and a group of pass-catchers who will test Jacksonville’s secondary early and often on the road.
The defense changed its tune in the second half of the game at Oakland last week after allowing 273 yards of offense in the first half.
"“There were some intense moments on the sideline there in the first half,” Wash said. “At halftime, we talked to them and said, ‘We know where we’re at.” Wash said via Jaguars.com."
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"“We have the capabilities of playing better than we did in the first half.’ Really, give credit to the players. They came out and executed well. We adjusted to some things in the running game to put our guys in position to make some plays. But it is really just a credit to them.”"
Jacksonville pitched a shutout on the road in the second half of the game and won for the first time since 2005 on the west coast. The Jaguars used a dramatic fourth quarter to come from behind to get the victory.
Jacksonville will have to contend with Ryan and a group of wide receivers led by Julio Jones, regarded as one of the best in the league. Calvin Ridley also offers a unique challenge to the secondary because of his skill set. It’s must like Jones and Roddy White in years past where opponents have had issues covering too deep threats on the field at once.
Covering Jones is foremost on Wash’s mind this week, as he explained.
"“He’s a beast. He’s an exceptional player. He was targeted 22 times last week. We know they’re going to be going to him,” Wash said.“In our plan, we understand that. We’re going to do the best we can to try to keep him in front of us and eliminate as many big plays and make him earn everything.”"
The Jaguars slowed down the Raiders run game but were beaten on the field by the short passing game that opened the coverage up a bit. Ryan has thrown for 3,769 yards this season and 24 touchdowns. Jones has 1,150 yards in receptions and six touchdowns. Ridley, 866 yards in receptions and seven touchdowns this year.