Everything tried, nothing worked against Julio Jones




TAMPA — Coach Dirk Koetter conceded the Bucs had no answer for Falcons WR Julio Jones, who racked up 253 receiving yards, most ever for a Bucs opponent, in Atlanta’s 34-20 win on Sunday.

He said it wasn’t for a lack of trying different schemes against him.

“We played 14 different coverages and none of them worked,” Koetter said Monday. “We have everything from the cornerback falling down to a linebacker running out of (his) zone to not getting pressure on the quarterback to double moves to them high-lowing us in a two-deep coverage and throwing over the corner’s head. Every way you can beat those different coverages, they all happened.”

There was some small solace in knowing that Jones — whom Koetter coached, along with QB Matt Ryan, as the Falcons offensive coordinator from 2012-14 — is one of the best in the game, even if he’d been held to one touchdown in his first 10 games before getting two against the Bucs.

“Matt Ryan was the MVP of the league last year … those two guys are pretty good,” Koetter said. “When I coached in Atlanta, Julio ironically enough had a 250-yard game against the team we play this week (Green Bay). I’ve seen it done before. Those two guys are pretty good, and we didn’t do anything to stop them.”

Injuries mounting

QB Jameis Winston could be back this week as the Bucs go to Green Bay, but all over the field, Tampa Bay is dealing with injuries to key players.

“We definitely have some injury issues this week,” Koetter said. “This was a very physical game. … There’s still testing going on right now. This is the most banged up that we’ve been after a game, and we’re going to have a couple of other guys out this week.”

Four players are in concussion protocol — RB Doug Martin and S T.J. Ward were sidelined Sunday, and DE Robert Ayers and OL Evan Smith remain in protocol from last week. CB Vernon Hargreaves missed the game with a hamstring injury, and two players left the game with injury and didn’t return, DT Clinton McDonald (back) and special teams captain Josh Robinson (hamstring).

“We had three offensive linemen that left the game and came back in,” said Koetter, who lost RT Demar Dotson and C Ali Marpet in the first half, then got them back in the second only to lose LG Kevin Pamphile for four plays.

Had the Bucs taken another injury, they would have needed to play a tight end at tackle. Koetter said he had to do that once when he was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.

This and that

Koetter was impressed by RB Peyton Barber’s second touchdown run against the Falcons, but not so much the first. “I could have gotten that first touchdown,” he said. “It was blocked perfect.” … Koetter has coached teams at Lambeau Field twice, losing with the Falcons in 2013 and 2014. Atlanta had the lead in the fourth quarter the first time and lost 22-21; in 2014, Ryan threw for 375 yards (259 to Jones) and four touchdowns but still lost 43-37. “That’s an awesome place to play a football game,” Koetter said. “All we can do is get out there and do our best.”

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.



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