The Indianapolis Colts’ chances of landing Julio Jones were basically vaporized when general manager Chris Ballard laughed at the idea in a text exchange with Pat McAfee.
While some fans hoped and prayed that was a smoke screen and that the Colts would aggressively pursue Jones, most fans understood their only course of action was to pray the Falcons superstar would land either outside of the conference or the AFC South.
When the trade saga concluded this weekend, Indianapolis’ worst nightmare was realized, as Tennessee acquired Jones for a second- and fourth-round draft pick while agreeing to absorb the entirety of his three-year, $66 million extension, which kicks in this year.
Now, the Colts will have to game plan to stop Jones, AJ Brown AND Derrick Henry, all of whom form arguably the greatest offensive trio in the league.
While containing Henry, the two-time defending rushing champ, will be a stiff challenge, allowing the Titans to acquire Jones will present an entirely new issue for Indy’s secondary, which isn’t loaded with premier talent to begin with.
Is the Colts’ secondary cut out to stop the Titans’ passing attack after they traded for Julio Jones? Probably not.
We should start by saying that we don’t hate the idea of Xavier Rhodes, who re-signed with Indianapolis on a one-year deal this offseason, shadowing Jones. The veteran cornerback surrendered just a 51.8% completion percentage in 16 starts last season, and proved to be a seamless fit in the Colts’ zone-oriented scheme.
Behind him, however, we’re stumped in terms of who should be tasked with covering Brown. Not only is Kenny Moore, the Colts’ projected No. 2 cornerback, more comfortable in the slot compared to working along the sidelines, but he’d give up a ton of size and weight (he’s 5-foot-9 and weighs just 190 pounds) in a potential matchup with Brown, who’s 6-foot and 226 pounds.
Taking that into account, Indy will likely have to roll the dice with veteran TJ Carrie (6-foot, 204 pounds or Marvel Tell (6-foot-2, 198 pounds), who opted out last season and has been receiving rave reviews from the coaching staff during OTAs, as Brown’s main defender. While those matchups look better on paper, they shouldn’t inspire much confidence in fans.
Not only do Jones and Brown form the most physically-imposing receiving tandem in the NFL, but they’re incredibly gifted after the catch. In other words, the secondary’s job in coverage will require a lot more than just trying to prevent catches. They’ll need to be perfect on multiple fronts for 60 minutes and we’re not sure they’re capable of doing that.
Could that mean another move to address the unit is on the way?