The Atlanta Falcons should be cautious of Super Bowl smokescreens coming out of New England. The Malcolm Butler vs. Julio Jones hype looks like one of them.
The ‘Julio Jones vs. Malcolm Butler’ talk began immediately after the Atlanta Falcons’ Super Bowl 51 opponent was set. Today, NESN.com posted a story detailing Butler’s ‘dream come true’ with the opportunity to cover Jones in Super Bowl 51. “If you have a vision and you work hard, you can accomplish things,” Butler told NESN.
The Atlanta Falcons shouldn’t buy into a single word of that story.
What ‘they’ want the Falcons to think
I do believe Butler’s feel-good story about working hard to accomplish his goals, but the media spin is too specific. Are we supposed to believe Butler’s hard work was to one-day cover Julio Jones in the Super Bowl? The answer is yes; we are supposed to believe it. More important, the Atlanta Falcons are supposed to believe it.
It’s my theory stories like NESN’s contribute to teams preparing for what they’re led to believe the Patriots will do. I can imagine the “Jones vs. Butler” hype only gets bigger and better leading up to Super Bowl 51. Then leave it to Bill Belichick to deploy his secondary different. Belichick has done it before, using his best cornerback to cover an opponent’s no. 2 receiver.
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The unpredictability of Bill Belichick
Being coy and unpredictable is a big part of Belichick’s success in New England. It’s always a guessing game with how he’ll line up his team in big games. That said, I don’t believe for one second Belichick has decided to match Butler up against Jones. Butler shut down Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship Game, but the February 5th match-up with Jones will be physical.
The Atlanta Falcons should be preparing for New England to play Butler on Mohamed Sanu from the onset. Butler may also match-up with Taylor Gabriel as “Turbo” poses a huge mismatch if covered by Eric Rowe. As for Julio Jones, expect a tandem of Logan Ryan and safety Devin McCourty. This scenario would still allow Belichick to keep Patrick Chung over the top.
New England has a played a lot of max coverage this season, dropping seven-to-eight guys into coverage. Don’t be shocked if they attempt to catch Kyle Shanahan off-guard by rushing more than four on “Super Sunday”.
The Falcons would still love to see one-on-Julio
I could be wrong and Belichick does opt to give Butler the dream match-up on Jones he craves. The Atlanta Falcons offense would be more than happy to play another game of one-on-Jones coverage. The Falcons’ All-Pro receiver had few issues beating Richard Sherman in the Divisional Round against the Seahawks.
A 2012 Twitter post from Butler again began making the rounds shortly following the AFC Championship Game.
The above tweet came hours after the Falcons beat the Lions to claim the NFC’s top seed in the playoffs. Julio Jones caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in the game. Butler was still in college at the time, wrapping up his first season at West Alabama.
Butler became a household name after intercepting Russell Wilson’s pass on the 1-yard line to win Super Bowl 49. He came into the NFL undrafted in 2014 and didn’t see his first career start until December 14th of that year.