Around the NFL  

 

Kubiak: Stopping Julio Jones 'the ultimate challenge'

Print

If Atlanta's high-powered offense comes as a surprise to most, that isn't the case with Gary Kubiak.

After all, the Broncos coach spent years mentoring Falcons play-caller Kyle Shanahan during their time together in Houston, leading to plenty of shared DNA in how both coaches attack defenses.

Still, Kubiak knows that Atlanta has one very unusual and uber-gifted X-factor in-house: The insanely dangerous Julio Jones, who will face the Broncos on Sunday one week after the pass-catcher fried the Panthers for 300 yards and a touchdown off 12 catches.

"It's the ultimate challenge -- the job that he does, and Kyle moves him all over the place," Kubiak said this week, per the Falcons team website. "In this league there's one challenge after another, and you just try to get your guys to stay focused on what we do and how we do things. So that's what we really try to do as a group. On defense, all 11 of us will have to play well; it's not about one guy. So we're really going to try to stay focused on our football team and what we need to do to be successful."

While the Broncos boast the fiercest defense league-wide, the Falcons offense looms as the stiffest test yet for a Von Miller-led unit that has guided Denver to a 4-0 mark to open the year.

While Jones remains the centerpiece of Atlanta's attack, the Falcons also have receivers Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and Aldrick Robinson making plays alongside two versatile backs -- Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman -- who can hurt teams on the ground and through the air. To top it off, quarterback Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP-level under Shanahan's direction.

"It's extremely difficult," Kubiak said of defending the Falcons. "Like I said, because Kyle does move people all over the place, and in this league you've got to do that to get guys the ball. They're running the ball extremely well; they're making a lot of explosive football plays. It's a lot of guys making those plays for them. They're extremely balanced in what they're doing and that's a credit to Kyle and the staff and the job they're doing."

Kubiak also noted that while he and Shanahan lean on plenty of shared philosophies, his former pupil has grown into his own man.

"I've studied his film all the time, obviously, because, being together for a long time, he's really branched out. Playing a lot of personnels," Kubiak said. "I think his offense has had new identities every year -- I think that's a credit to him. He studies really hard."

Not everyone will agree, but Sunday's matchup between student-and-master -- and Atlanta's whirlwind offense vs. Denver's historically special defense -- has many around the NFL Media newsroom calling this the game of the week.

Print

Fan Discussion