WR Julio Jones will test Jaguars’ new-look secondary twice in 2021

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones #11 (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones #11 (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

Not long ago, Bill Barnwell of ESPN suggested the Jacksonville Jaguars trade for wide receiver Julio Jones. While the All-Pro did land in the AFC South, it won’t be in Duval. Now, the Jags will have to worry about facing off against him twice a year, as the Tennesse Titans have acquired him.

The Atlanta Falcons traded Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Titans for a 2022 second-round selection and a fourth-rounder in 2023, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. Tennessee will also take on the wide receiver’s salary of $15.3 million in 2021 while Atlanta will have $7.75 million in dead money.

Although Jones is 32 and hauled in just 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns last season, he’s still one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. He suffered a drop-off in production in 2020 because he missed time with injuries, not because he’s slowing down. The year before, he caught 99 receptions for 1,394 yards and six trips to the end zone. Furthermore, he registered six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2014 to 2019. The Alabama product, along with A.J. Brown, could form one of the best wide receiver duos in the league.

Tennessee already had a top 5 offense, and the addition of Jones will make it an even more dominating unit. Ryan Tannehill has been among the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL since joining the Titans and the running back Derrick Henry will continue paving the way on the ground. Without Jones, Tennessee was a playoff team. Now, they are a formidable foe that will give the Jaguars a fit twice a year.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will need to find a way to slow down Julio Jones.

The Jaguars needed to upgrade their secondary this offseason after finishing 27th in passing touchdowns allowed in 2020. They signed former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin and former Los Angeles Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins. Moreover, they drafted cornerback Tyson Campbell and safety Andre Cisco. Jacksonville’s back seven is in better shape than it was last year but the Titans’ offense will present a tough matchup.

If the Jags try to double Jones or Brown, Henry could have a field day against their defense. Last season, he racked up 51 carries for 299 yards and two touchdowns. If Jacksonville loads the box, the secondary will be susceptible to Jones and Brown. The last time Jones played the Jaguars was in Week 16 of the 2019 season. In that game, the seven-time Pro Bowl nod caught ten receptions for 166 yards and the Jags lost 24-12.

Last season, the Titans were one and done in the playoffs but that fell on their defense, not the offense. The Jaguars have plenty of time to figure out how to slow down Julio Jones but it won’t be an easy task.

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