Closer look at Julio Jones convinces Patriots he's the best

Closer look at Julio Jones convinces Patriots he's the best

FOXBORO -- Film study is an extremely beneficial thing. It tells you what your opponent does, what their tendencies may be and lays the groundwork for determining a plan to stop them. 

The Patriots’ defense is tasked with trying to slow a Falcons offense that put up the most points in the league this season. If you think they faced their toughest vertical threat of the season last week in Antonio Brown, corner Eric Rowe disagrees with you. That distinction goes to Julio Jones, whom Rowe said Saturday was peerless. 

“They’ve got Julio, the best receiver in the league, but not just him,” Rowe said. “They’ve got [Taylor] Gabriel, a speedy guy we have to slow down. They’ve got [Mohamed] Sanu, big dude in the slot. They’ve got two running backs that are just a great tandem, then obviously the quarterback, Matt Ryan. I can’t really speak for their defense because obviously I don’t watch their defense, but their offense is clicking. Obviously we’ve seen they’re in good rhythm, so we’ve just got to slow them down.”

So on the subject of film study, is there anything new that can really be learned about a guy like Jones? He’s the total package of speed, size and hands, so…

“No,” Rowe replied. “Nothing that surprises me. Dude’s fast, big, strong, great hands, great route-running skills. I mean, I’ve seen him shake some DBs out of their shoes. It’s not a surprise.”
Over two games this postseason, Jones has 15 catches for 247 yards with three TDs, one of which was a 73-yarder in the NFC Championship against Green Bay. Though he missed Weeks 14 and 15 with a toe injury, he still finished 39 yards off the league lead for receiving yards with 1,409. In each of the previous two seasons, he finished with more yards than that. 

"We were just watching film on a double-move he ran against Green Bay and he didn’t come down with it, but just out of the double-move in two more steps he was 10 more yards down the field it feels like," Devin McCourty said this week. "Usually big guys like that don’t accelerate that fast. It usually takes times for them to get going, but he’s very explosive, tough to tackle. I think a lot of times you hear Julio Jones and you think of the deep routes, the posts, the nines, but you don’t think about the five-yard routes he catches on unders and breaks two tackles and scores a 60 or 70-yard touchdown."

In the AFC Championship, the Patriots held Brown to 77 yards on seven receptions with no touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown had only two catches on four passes when covered by Malcolm Butler. If the Patriots can limit Jones in such a fashion, they’ll still have to make sure Sanu, who has scored a touchdown in both playoff games for the Falcons, and Atlanta’s rushing attack can be kept in check as well. 

Should those things play out, the favorable matchup of New England’s offense against Atlanta’s defense should be able to take care of the rest. Stopping the best offense in the league is easier said than done, however, and the Patriots know there’s no greater threat than Jones.

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: C's win despite injuries, Pats make additions

1:20 - Despite throwing a depleted roster out there, the Celtics were able to get back in the win column vs. the Magic. Michael Holley and Tommy Heinsohn break down the win.

6:17 - Finally, the Patriots have done something! On Friday night it was reported that New England signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn as well as running back Jeremy Hill. Tom Curran, Alex Giaimo and Ben Volin discuss the impact these additions will have on the team.

11:05 - While the Celtics were able to pull out the win on Friday, the team did announce that Marcus Smart is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing thumb surgery. A. Sherrod Blakely expresses his optimism on Smart’s return for the playoffs.