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Buffalo Bills opponent preview: Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones

Jones is expected to play, so hopefully this isn’t irrelevant tonight...

The Buffalo Bills are in the spotlight as they take on the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football! The Bills look to avenge the loss from last season with some extra firepower on the defensive line. The Titans didn’t sit pat this offseason though, adding longtime Atlanta Falcons superstar Julio Jones. Jones is expected to return to action following a hamstring injury that kept him off the field the last two weeks. His (anticipated) presence could be all the more important for the Titans with A.J. Brown questionable to play due to illness. It’s a limited sample size, but what can the Bills expect from Jones in his new home?


Week 1 Next Gen Stats Chart

If you’re unfamiliar with these charts, for receivers this shows every route in which they were targeted. The embedded legend tells you the color coding for each one, and there’s a stat summary at the bottom. In Week 1, Jones’s production wasn’t particularly impressive.

On the other hand, the diversity of routes on just six targets stands out. It should also be noted that Jones had 50 snaps on offense, so the chart is only showing a small percentage of Jones’s time on the field.

Week 2 Next Gen Stats Chart

In Week 2, both his production AND route tree were pretty impressive. Looking at both charts (Week 3 isn’t available) there does appear to be a preference to have Jones work from the left-hand side. It’s not such a strong preference though that the Bills won’t have to prepare to see him all over the place. Time for some GIFs...

Play 1

I’m not going to spend a ton of time gabbing about Julio Jones. He’s been really, really good. For a really, really long time. About the only question is if he still has “it.” I’m not willing to say he’s ready for his best year ever, but he’s still a threat.

He’s not showing off anything elite on this play exactly, but the Titans seem to like these bunch formations. Jones gets a little help as his two teammates help clear things up and he’s off to the races.

Play 2

Bills fans are used to the term “catch radius” as we’ve historically had teams where the QB was in dire need of someone with lots of it. Julio Jones has lots of it. To me, the most impressive thing is that he actually hits the ground running. It looks pretty effortless and graceful too.

Play 3

And he’s still willing to fight for a few more yards.


Summary

The Buffalo Bills have the league’s best defense through their first five games. In Week 6 they’re facing off against arguably the most balanced offense they’ve faced so far this year. Admittedly, the Titans’ strength is the ground game where Derrick Henry presents the (not arguably) strongest challenger of 2021. Any struggles to contain Henry could lead to the Bills overcompensating to shut down the run game. Julio Jones will be there to capitalize. Jones may be a threat regardless, of course.