The Falcons invested a ton of money into their defense over the offseason, and the Week 1 results were incredibly encouraging.
The Panthers were only able to muster 10 points on Atlanta’s defense. David Onyemata and Calais Campbell were a big part of that across the front. Kaden Elliss held his own on the second level, but the star of the show was the Falcons prized free agent signing from the class, Jessie Bates III.
The former Bengals safety was all over the field, racking up a team-high 10 tackles while forcing three turnovers. He picked off rookie quarterback Bryce Young twice and then forced a critical fumble in the second half, leading to 17 of the Falcons’ 24 points. Without him, Atlanta doesn’t start off the year 1-0. He’s the early leader in the clubhouse for Defensive Player of the Year honors and has already been awarded the first NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 13, 2023
It’s been a while since the Falcons had a player as versatile as Jessie Bates roam the back of their secondary, and he’s just as valuable off the field as a leader as he is on Sundays. It’s only been one week, but it looks like Terry Fontenot hit a home run with the crown jewel of his first significant free agent class.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire