Falcons new-look defense is rightfully exciting Grady Jarrett

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The Falcons have completely overhauled the defense; it’s a group that could feature as many as nine new starters.

Grady Jarrett, Lorenzo Carter, A.J. Terrell, and Richie Grant are the only returning starters, but Carter isn’t guaranteed a starting role. Terry Fontenot didn’t mess around, inking three impact defenders on the first day of free agency — Jessie Bates, Kaden Elliss, and David Onyemata. But the Falcons were only getting started.

In addition to the studs already on the roster in Grady Jarrett and AJ Terrell, the Falcons have a number of talented and ascending youngsters — Troy Andersen, Richie Grant, Ta’Quon Graham, and Arnold Ebiketie — to go along with the rest of the offseason acquisitions — Calais Campbell, Lorenzo Carter, Bud Dupree, Mike Hughes, and Jeff Okudah.

It’s the deepest group the Falcons have had on the defensive side of the ball in quite a long time, so it’s no surprise the unit’s stalwart is excited about the new-look defense.

“It’s been a heck of a transformation,” Grady Jarrett said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s been something that I’ve been super excited about having veterans come in, guys who are ready to roll.”

The veterans added will give Jarrett an opportunity for a career year; he’s never had a supporting cast like this since joining the Falcons.

“It does take a load off my plate from a leadership standpoint and productivity standpoint,” Jarrett said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s going to make everybody better.”

He’s been a one-man wrecking ball for much of his time in Atlanta, but this year will be different. Jarrett’s best season came in 2019 when he totaled 7.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss en route to Second-Team All-Pro honors. Those defensive fronts don’t hold a candle to the talent of this year’s group.

“It helps me across the whole board if you’re talking about protections, snaps counts and certain run plays that you might see,” Jarrett said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They’ve got to play us honest. I’m super, super excited. … We’ve got a good group going forward and I’m excited.”

More than just the personnel on the field, the coaching staff is different. New defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen comes over from New Orleans, where he was the Saints’ co-defensive coordinator.

“He’s definitely fiery and intense, but it’s consistent, day-in and day-out,” Jarrett said of Nielsen, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s with a positive connation to it. Challenging guys, but at the same time, you don’t want to disappoint him.”

The Falcons are a completely different team in 2023, and the most drastic changes come on the defensive side of the ball. Grady Jarrett should be excited.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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