Earlier this year, Falcons wide receiver Roddy White took a shot at Victor Cruz when he called the Giants wide receiver … a bit soft.
White went on to call himself and Julio Jones to best receiving tandem in the National Football League.
Fast forward about three months and these two receiver duos are set to face off (of course, not against each other) on the same field this Sunday.
Giants safety Stevie Brown, who leads the team with 8 interceptions after picking off Drew Brees twice in Week 14, said the defense is well aware of White and Jones, and with veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez an option, the Falcons are quite difficult to defend.
“You can’t just have one primary focus with all of that … They’re both deep threats and home run guys that can hit you at any time. So you have to be cautious about that and then Gonzalez being the possession receiver, you’ve got to be aware of him at all times as well,” Brown said. “It’s a very balanced attack, so you can’t just go in with a simple focus. You have to protect everything and guard against everything.”
White leads the Falcons with 1,140 yards and five touchdowns, notching his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season with at least five touchdowns.
In his second season out of Alabama, Jones is three yards shy of his first 1,000-yard campaign. He and Gonzalez are tied with a team-high seven receiving touchdowns.
Gonzalez, now is his 16th NFL season, is still shredding defenses and making them account for a 36-year-old.
“If it’s coming to him, he’ll be able to shield off defenders and is able to position his body where he’s only able to catch it and Matt Ryan puts it there,” Brown said. “He’s a master of his craft. He knows he’s not the fastest anymore, but he still knows how to position his body to get open and he does what he does because he’s a veteran.”
If you want to compare White-Jones to Cruz-Hakeem Nicks, the numbers suggest the Falcons’ duo is superior … at least this year. Keep in mind, however, Nicks has missed a handful of games due foot and knee injuries, which has limited him to 652 yards this year.
But both offenses are more than just their wide receiver tandems. Last week, David Wilson received the bulk of the workload with Ahmad Bradshaw injured and he’s expected to shoulder the weight again in Atlanta.
The Falcons, who at times have been criticized for straying away from their rushing attack, have the bowling ball in Michael Turner, as well as Jacquizz Rodgers, who has emerged as an excellent change-of-pace-style runner who can assist in the passing game.
Rodgers has combined for more than 600 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns this season, and the G-Men have taken notice.
“Everyone knows about that wide receiver tandem, Matty Ice, (Tony) Gonzalez, those two running backs, they have a lot of weapons down there and they’re going to be behind that home crowd on that fast turf,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “They’ll be very comfortable in that setting and we’ll have to play a great game to contain them.”
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