Jessie Bates III is already one of the best free agent signings in Falcons history.
Not only does he show up in all phases, but he’s also a force multiplier. He can match up against tight ends, drop into single high, rotate down into the box, and everything in between. Moreover, Bates makes others around him better.
He quarterbacks the defense from the backend and is a real difference-maker. The former Bengals All-Pro leads the league in interceptions (3) and forced fumbles (2) while being PFF’s highest-graded safety. He’s allowing a 40.3 passer rating when opposing quarterbacks target him in coverage and is also leading the Falcons in total tackles.
There’s no area in which he struggles and is amid a career year. I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest he should be in the conversation for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Nowadays, the MVP is just the best quarterback, and the DPOY is similar; it’s generally the best pass rusher. 11 of the past 12 winners were players that rush the passer. The last safety to win the award was Troy Polamalu in 2010 when he put together one of the craziest seasons by any safety ever.
The Steelers Hall of Famer picked seven passes off, returning one for a touchdown, defended 11 passes, forced one fumble, recorded one sack, and logged seven tackles for a loss to go with 63 total tackles. He impacted the game in so many different ways.
Jessie Bates is on pace to eclipse most of those numbers already, but can he maintain this pace? Even if he does, it will be hard to beat out one of Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett, and T.J. Watt, who are surely leading the race over Jessie Bates.
We can still appreciate the great season of the newest Falcons safety.
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