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Posts tagged with "Grady Jarrett"

Let’s talk about it.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Here, we’re at the bye week! Normally I’d bemoan the tediousness of it all, but this time around, I’m just grateful for the chance for Atlanta to take a breather and get healthy.

We are going to use this time to take stock of the Falcons and the NFL through four games, and so we’ll lead things off with an upbeat, hopefully fun question: Who has been the most impressive Falcon through four games?

There are some truly worthy candidates. Julio Jones has been his usual stellar self, Brooks Reed is having a weird resurgent season, Takk McKinley is putting together one hell of a rookie campaign, and Grady Jarrett is a legitimate beast in the middle of the defensive line.

For all that, though, I guess I’d go with Devonta Freeman. He has been absurdly good yet again, with 70 carries for 285 yards, an NFL-leading five rushing touchdowns, and nine receptions for 70 yards over four games. That’s a combined 355 yards and five TDs in an offense that has needed every hard-fought yard, and Freeman still looks like one of the greatest backs in the league. Steve Sarkisian is obviously willing to lean on Free, and that means he’ll probably be one of Atlanta’s best all season.

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ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22: Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrates a Falcons touchdown with quarterback Matt Ryan (2) in the first half of the NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. The Atlanta Falcons won the game 44-21. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

TODD KIRKLAND/ICON SPORTSWIRE

So many things went right for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. With an offense that led the league by averaging more than 33 points per game, the Falcons ran and threw their way to an NFC championship and a Super Bowl appearance.

Although the Falcons fell short against the New England Patriots, they not only kept the core of their team but added some pieces they hope will take them over the top.

Different Falcons stepped up last year, making it tough to name the 10 best Falcons on the roster. Rookie Takkarist McKinley didn’t make the list. Corners Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant also fell short of the top 10.

Here are the 10 best Falcons on the roster.

  1. S Ricardo Allen

Moving from cornerback to safety, Ricardo Allen played a team-high 1,101 defensive snaps at a high level. He finished the regular season with 90 tackles and two interceptions and added two more during the team’s Super Bowl run. He is the playmaker in the secondary.

  1. DT Dontari Poe

Defensive tackle Dontari Poe wasn’t with the Falcons last year, but he gives the squad a former Pro Bowler who can not only clog the middle but get after the passer if healthy. Poe had a career-low 27 tackles last year with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has a chip on his shoulder and the Falcons hope he translates that anger into prime performances.

  1. DT Grady Jarrett

A person who should benefit from having Poe beside him is Grady Jarrett. He broke out in the Super Bowl, sacking Tom Brady three times. That number equaled the amount of sacks he had in the regular season. Jarrett doubled his tackle total from his rookie season of 2015. His mixture of power and speed should help him improve in his third season.

  1. S Keanu Neal

Every team needs a hard-hitting enforcer. Safety Keanu Neal is that man for the Falcons. He doesn’t mind coming down in the box to help in the run game, but he also roams the secondary well. Neal was second on the team with 106 tackles. He forced five fumbles.

  1. C Alex Mack

There are not many offensive linemen who would be considered on a team’s 10 top players list, much alone a center. Alex Mack was the glue to the Falcons’ offensive line last year and got everything started. He was a key reason why the Falcons averaged 33.8 points per game and 120.5 yards rushing.

Atlanta Falcons' Alex Mack plays against the New England Patriots during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  1. LB Deion Jones

As a rookie last year, linebacker Deion Jones started 13 games. He led the team in tackles, had three interceptions, and led all linebackers with 11 pass breakups. Jones has shown he can play the run as well as the pass. He is the engine of the defense.

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13 in 13 continues with a look at the NFC Championship Game rematch in a brand-new stadium.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In the 13 days leading up to July 27th, when the Green Bay Packers begin training camp practices, APC is running a series we’re calling “13 in 13.” Over these two weeks, we will closely with a close examination of the major offseason events for each of the Packers’ 2017 opponents. Each team’s information has been provided by our SB Nation colleagues who know them best – the team bloggers for each franchise.

After a week one date with the Seahawks at Lambeau Field, the Packers travel south to meet the Atlanta Falcons in a rematch of January’s NFC Championship Game. This year’s game will be held in the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and will be televised nationally on Sunday Night Football.

Here’s a look at the offseason changes for the Falcons, courtesy of The Falcoholic.

Notable free agent additions: DT Dontari Poe, WR Andre Roberts, FB Derrick Coleman, DE Jack Crawford

Notable free agent departures: FB Patrick DiMarco, DT Tyson Jackson

Trades: N/A

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:DE Takkarist McKinley, LB Duke Riley, FS/CB Damontae Kazee

Biggest offseason addition: Poe. He’s signed for just one year, but he’s slimming down and has the talent to be the missing piece for the Falcons’ so-so run defense, plus a situationally useful pass rusher. For a team with very few glaring holes on defense, Poe is a huge addition, especially given the team’s real questions at defensive tackle aside from Grady Jarrett.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Can the Falcons rebound from the most crushing Super Bowl loss of all-time? Everyone wants to know if the team has the mental toughness or can-do attitude or whatever you call it to return to relevance and contention in 2017. There’s a rich history of teams falling short the year after a Super Bowl berth, especially when they lose, so Atlanta will have to do more than talk about staying focused (which they’ve done) and show they’re as good or better than they were a year ago.

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was an unstoppable force during the Super Bowl. His three sack game was truly remarkable. Had Kyle Shanahan not ruined everything, Jarrett might’ve been the Super Bowl MVP. That’s pretty impressive for a second year player teams persistently overlooked when he came out of college.

But despite his successes on the biggest stage, Jarrett is still that humble kid whose nose never leaves the grindstone. Add to that the fact that Quinn seems to think he’s only getting better.(Credit to The Mothership’s Kelsey Conway for the quote. I encourage you to read her entire article.)

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Atlanta Falcons nose tackle Grady Jarrett had his high school jersey retired last Friday night. If he continues to play like he did in Super Bowl LI, Jarrett might have the same thing happen to his NFL jersey one day.

Grady Jarrett tied a Super Bowl record with three sacks against Tom Brady. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Although the Falcons’ historic collapse in a 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots won’t soon be forgotten, folks also shouldn’t forget how Jarrett wreaked havoc with three sacks on Tom Brady, tying a Super Bowl record previously shared by the late Reggie White, Darnell Dockett and Kony Ealy. Jarrett, who had four quarterback hits on Brady, caught the attention of many in attendance, including former Falcons and New York Giants pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora, now an analyst in London. Umenyiora said the 6-foot, 300-pound Jarrett reminded him of two-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey (6-1, 305) of the Tennessee Titans.

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