Packers’ Jordan Love on Falcons’ Jessie Bates III: “He’s a ballhawk”

NFL: SEP 10 Panthers at Falcons

The Falcons offseason produced the two biggest stars of Week 1. Bijan Robinson, the 8th overall pick, scored the club’s first touchdown of the season on a beautiful display of balance, strength, and elusiveness. On the other side of the ball, Jessie Bates III, the gem of the free agent class, forced three turnovers to bode with 10 tackles, which led the defense.

The investment in Bates has immediately paid off for the Falcons. I expected Ryan Nielsen’s group to take time to mesh because of the new scheme and all of the new faces, but they hit the ground running.

David Onyemata, Calais Campbell, Bud Dupree, and Kaden Elliss were all effective in their respective roles, but it’s hard to not talk about what Bates did. Moreover, the impact he’s had on the team off the field isn’t going unnoticed.

His presence is surely benefiting Richie Grant, but it’s not just the young safety. Jessie Bates was voted captain for a reason; his infectious attitude is apparent. As always though, it’s all about what you do on the field, and Bates was the best defensive player of Week 1 across the NFL.

Atlanta’s upcoming opponent is taking notice. Packers’ quarterback Jordan Love praised the Falcons’ safety earlier this week on Wednesday, describing him in the only way anyone could — a ballhawk.

“Jessie is a really good safety for them,” Jordan Love said. “He’s a ballhawk, you’ve seen the numbers he had last week with two interceptions and a forced fumble. So you know, he’s a ballhawk, he’s a really good player. He’s a very instinctual player and he plays on quarterbacks’ eyes, and that’s how he made his plays last week. So, definitely a guy we got to be looking out for and just know where he’s at, at all times.”

Funny enough, a Bleacher Report article recently came out that wasn’t buying Jessie Bates’ bid to superstardom. “He’s never been considered much of a ballhawk, as his 14 picks in Cincinnati were a good amount but not an eye-popping number.”

Well, since 2018, Bates has logged 16 interceptions, which ranks 11th over that span. In addition, he ranks 8th among all safeties and is only two off from Minkah FitzPatrick, who is widely regarded as the best safety in football.

Jessie Bates is a star, and it’s clear what the Falcons saw in him when they handed him the largest free agent contract of the new regime’s tenure.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire


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