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We all saw it and well all enjoyed it. Julio Jones caught pass after pass against the Panthers on Sunday and entertained anyone who happened to watch his performance.

On the day, Jones finished with 12 catches, 300 yards, and one touchdown.

After last week’s Terrelle Pryor breakdown that was so much fun to watch, it was nice to not have a let down and be able to breakdown another great series of plays.

As we’ll see in the video, the Panthers performance in coverage was a mixed bag. They had plays where they didn’t look so good, plays where they did all they could do and got beat, and plays where they looked flat out lost.

With that, lets look at the tape for this week.

Week 4 Fantasy Football Breakdown: Julio Jones

Panthers: 0 Falcons: 0 (1st –11:33)

  • The Panthers disguised their coverage pre-snap. They showed cover-2 man pre-snap and rotated post snap into cover-1 man.
  • James Bradberry stays in phase initially, but Jones is able to win at the top of the route. When you consider that Bradberry only has a safety over the top as an outlet, it makes sense to prioritize the deep ball in coverage.

Panthers: 0 Falcons: 0 (1st –10:58)

  • The Panthers appear to be in a quarters concept to the field side where the cornerback on Jones covers any vertical route. Any route that goes immediately inside is left to the underneath defenders. The slot cornerback covers the slot wide receiver on any underneath routes but lets him go on any vertical routes. After the slot cornerback lets go of the #2 wide receiver, he looks for work underneath.
  • The Falcons use the slot wide receiver to put the slot cornerback into vertical conflict. The slot cornerback has to make sure that the #2 wide receiver goes vertical before he can worry about Jones.

Panthers: 0 Falcons: 0 (1st –10:19)

  • This play is the third offensive snap of the game for the Falcons, and Jones’ third reception of the game. Through three snaps, Jones already has 51 yards receiving.

Panthers: 0 Falcons: 7 (1st –1:51)

  • The Panthers appear to be in another quarters coverage concept.
  • Based off of Daryl Worley’s reaction after the play, it appears that he expected help over the top from Kurt Coleman. However, Worely can’t allow a free release from Jones.
  • Not knowing the call, it’s difficult to understand why Coleman would move to cover the #3 from the opposite side of the formation. There are some instances when defenses will rotate a far side safety over to cover the #3 receiver on the opposite side of the formation, but because there is already a defender in coverage against the #3 receiver, it’s difficult to understand why Coleman looked for work in that direction and not toward Jones.

Panthers: 0 Falcons: 14 (2nd –12:17)

  • Bene’ Benwikere is ahead of Jones at the top of the route, which is an issue, but the coverage isn’t even bad. The play succeeds because of it’s timing.

Panthers: 7 Falcons: 14 (2nd – 8:46)

  • This could be a modified sky coverage with Thomas Davis as the underneath flat defender (typically this would be a safety) and Benwikere over the top.
  • Because he looks lost, it’s difficult to tell what Tre Boston’s responsibility is on this play. It’s possible that this isn’t a sky coverage to boundary; it could be quarters, and Boston fails to fall back to bracket Jones.
  • Although it’s a difficult assignment, Davis is tasked with not giving Jones a free release and disrupting the timing of the play.

Panthers: 10 Falcons: 17 (2nd –2:45)

  • After he fakes a blitz pre snap, Luke Kuechly drops back into coverage post snap as the hook/curl defender.
  • Kuechly is in perfect position on this play but can’t hang on to the interception.

Panthers: 10 Falcons: 17 (3rd –10:38)

  • The Panthers fall back into a basic cover-1 man coverage. Benkiwere jams Jones off the snap, but Jones gets inside leverage at the top of his route and uses his body to effectively shield Benwikere from the ball.

Panthers: 10 Falcons: 24 (3rd –7:41)

  • On a 3rd and 3, the Panthers fall into quarters coverage again, and despite the physicality that Benwikere and Kuechly exhibit in coverage, Jones is able to secure the football for the first down.

Panthers: 10 Falcons: 24 (3rd – 6:48)

  • The Falcons use pre snap motion to see if the Panthers signal zone or man coverage. Coleman follows the receiver in motion across the formation, which indicates there is a good chance the Panthers are in man coverage.
  • To no avail, Benwikere tries to jam Jones at the line of scrimmage and is out of phase the rest of the play.
  • This play is an example of an effective blitz pickup by the Falcons offensive line. Matt Ryan would have had an even cleaner pocket to throw into if it wasn’t for Mario Addison’s ability to bull rush Jake Matthews off the edge.

Panthers: 10 Falcons: 31 (3rd – 0:46)

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  • Jacob Tamme runs a route to the flat to widen Kuechly, and Jones runs a curl route with minimal traffic.
  • Bradberry looks to be worried about the deep threat, and can’t recover in time to make a play on the ball.

Panthers: 26 Falcons: 34 (4th – 3:58)

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  • It’s a head scratcher to see the Panthers play man-to-man coverage with a single high safety after what’s happened in the game to this point.
  • Jones absolutely burns Benwikere off the line. Jones fakes an outside stem; Benwikere counters with a left hand jam and a step toward the sideline, but he whiffs at air; Jones runs underneath with plenty of separation. Watch for that moment right when the ball is snapped as Jones uses his quickness to leave Benwikere behind.
  • As the single high safety, Michael Griffin breaks way behind the action.

Criticism abound, the Panthers secondary has been much maligned after losing all but one of their starters from Super Bowl 50. While some of their current starters were on the team last year, there isn’t any simulation for the speed of game action. One shouldn’t be quick to jump ship from the Panthers defense, but there is reason to skeptical about whether or not the holes left from roster turnover are too big to fill.

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