Colts: Is Xavier Rhodes equipped to lock down Julio Jones?
Xavier Rhodes and the Indianapolis Colts were dealt a complete bombshell this weekend, as Julio Jones was traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the rival Tennessee Titans. This gave a defense that had enough to worry about on the ground with Derrick Henry one more game-changer to dread in the air.
Ryan Tannehill has proven to be a lethal quarterback, and the addition of Jones to a team that already had AJ Brown and a new signing in Josh Reynolds might make Tennessee the new favorites in the two-horse race that is the AFC South.
However, if there’s one detail that can help snap Colts fans back to reality and remind them how complete this team is, it’s the fact that Rhodes proved during his time in Minnesota that if anyone in this league can slow Jones down, it’s him.
Against teams that he has logged at least six career games against, Jones’ 55 yards per game vs Rhodes’ Minnesota Vikings are the lowest mark Jones has on his resume. With Rhodes now confident again in Indianapolis after a rough end to his Vikings career, he might be able to put the clamps on Jones again.
Colts CB Xavier Rhodes can hold his own against Julio Jones.
In Atlanta’s Week 1 matchup against the Vikings in 2019, Jones didn’t catch a single pass when covered by Rhodes, and he ended the game with just six catches for 31 yards. Jones’ combination of size and speed will send him to the Hall of Fame, but they haven’t always produced results against Rhodes.
A fair bit of credit must be given to Mike Zimmer and his defense, as they were nothing short of elite in the latter half of the last decade. However, this also shows that Rhodes seems to have figured out one hole in his game that he can continue to exploit, meaning that the rest of the revamped Indy secondary might play a bit better than expected against the Titans.
With Rhodes on Jones, Kenny Moore in the slot, and the improving Julian Blackmon at the safety spot, Tennessee might be able to move the ball on sheer talent alone, but the Colts have more than enough bodies to throw at Mike Vrabel and make his offense one-dimensional.
Jones is one of the best receivers in the game, but Rhodes has shown that he can at least give him some fits when he lines up across from him. Maybe Ballard wasn’t sweating the Titans making this move because of Rhodes’ history against the former All-Pro. If so, well played.