Cornerback Aqib Talib will launch the Patriots’ defensive efforts to squash the Falcons’ high-octane weaponry Sunday night but he won’t be singularly responsible.

The operation will begin with Talib’s almost certain assignment against wide receiver Julio Jones who is tied with Julian Edelman for the NFL lead with 27 receptions. The 6-foot-3 220-pound Jones gets it done far down field and his electric athleticism and superior strength makes him a brute to bring down once he has the ball.

Talib’s ability to prevent quarterback Matt Ryan from throwing to Jones will have layered implications but that singular matchup won’t tell the entire story of the overall battle between the Patriots defense and Falcons offense. Point being if Talib handles his job and even earns a draw against Jones it won’t mean much if Roddy White Tony Gonzalez or Harry Douglas churn out huge numbers.

“It’s definitely going to be the biggest challenge for us by far for the season” Pats safety Devin McCourty said. “It’s not going to be all about trying to stop one guy because they have a bunch of different guys they can throw the ball to. Just trying to go out there and make plays.”

There are two ways the Patriots can choose to handle the Falcons’ passing attack the first involving Talib’s man-up assignment.

If he is successful it would allow the Patriots to devote extra resources in other areas such as McCourty helping either cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard or Kyle Arrington with White or safety Steve Gregory shading Gonzalez’ side of the field.

Granted White has been hobbled by an ankle injury this season and the 37-year-old Gonzalez might be playing past his bed time but the pair have had prolific careers and absolutely won’t be taken for granted by the Patriots.

That’s why it’s important for the Pats to maneuver their personnel across the field to exploit particular matchups. In Week 2 last year the Patriots held Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to one catch for 4 yards but quarterback Kevin Kolb still hit seven other targets and kept the offense in rhythm for a victory.

Last week though Talib held Buccaneers wideout Vincent Jackson in check and then completely evaporated Mike Williams in the second half. Quarterback Josh Freeman couldn’t stay in stride with his other receivers who were blanketed by the Patriots’ wave of coverages.