Calais Campbell on Jessie Bates: “He’s the most valuable player”

NFL: SEP 10 Panthers at Falcons

The Falcons defense has been the strength of the team for the entire season. There have been lapses at times, but this is undoubtedly the best defensive unit we’ve seen in Atlanta in quite some time, and they terrorized the Colts on Christmas Eve, sacking Gardner Minshew six times and holding Indianapolis to just ten points.

37-year-old veteran Calais Campbell was responsible for 1.5 of those sacks. He was in the backfield all afternoon in his best game of the season, a stark reminder that he still has a lot left in the tank after a remarkable 16 years in the league. I’m not sure how much interest he’ll have in returning to Atlanta after this season, but the Falcons would be fools not to try and convince him to play at least one more season. He’s been integral to the defense’s turnaround, but no player has been more impactful than Jessie Bates III, who inked a lucrative four-year contract with the Falcons this past offseason.

The 26-year-old safety is amid a season in which he should garner All-Pro honors, and it continued yesterday with his sixth interception of the season, sealing a victory in Atlanta.

Bates has now forced nine turnovers on the season, six interceptions and three fumbles, both are career highs. He deserves first-team All-Pro honors, and if you ask the veteran Calais Campbell, Bates is the most valuable player as well.

I’m not sure if Campbell was talking about the Falcons or the entire league. The former is undebatable. Bates is the most valuable Falcons player and is solely responsible for at least three wins this season. That’s outstanding for a defensive player. Obviously, he will not garner many votes for NFL MVP, but he should be considered for the Defensive Player of the Year award. It’s typically only given to pass rushers, and there is a boatload of deserving sack artists, but nobody is impacting the game in the secondary like Jessie Bates III.

It’s only been one year, but it’s already looking like Bates will go down as one of the best free agent signings in franchise history.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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