FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes Grady Jarrett’s consistent impact this season and a draft nugget for Falcons fans.
While the Falcons haven’t accomplished much on the field this season, there have been a number of players whose performance has been noteworthy. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is among them.
One of the leaders in Atlanta’s locker room, Jarrett has made an impact both on and off the field. Considered one of the better defensive tackles in the league since entering the NFL, Jarrett has continued to perform at a high level in 2018.
Despite missing two games due to injury, Jarrett leads all Falcons defensive linemen in tackles, tackles for a loss and forced fumbles, registering 40, 11 and two in each respective category. His four sacks this season matches his previous career high.
“I feel like he’s right that we’re prepping strong, working hard during the week ... when it comes down to the game, we’ve got to execute. When you’re in a position to make plays, you’ve got to make them,” Jarrett told Matt Winkeljohn of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“That’s everyone on the roster down to myself, so that’s where we can make the biggest jump: being in the right place, but actually making the play when it’s there.”
To read the rest of Winkeljohn’s piece on Jarrett, click here.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
ESPN: NFL draft nuggets all 32 teams should know
There are three games remaining in the 2018 season, which means draft season is right around the corner. As is always the case, many sites begin to start discussing the upcoming draft at about this time, which is why ESPN put out a sampling of draft information for each NFL team.
“The Falcons need to focus their attention on beefing up the offensive and defensive lines through the draft,” ESPN’s Vaughn McClure writes. “Both guard spots need to be filled, and they might need a right tackle after benching Ryan Schraeder. On the defensive line, it's unclear if the team wants to commit to Vic Beasley Jr. long term, which would make edge rusher a priority. And the Falcons need a big, physical run-stuffer on the interior, with the undersized Grady Jarrett doing all he can right now but needing help.”
ESPN: Roddy White believes Julio can catch Jerry Rice
Julio Jones has put together a pretty special season this year, although that’s been the case for many of his years in the NFL. Jones is just 381 yards away from surpassing Roddy White’s franchise record, but his former teammate believes he can accomplish much greater things.
"The pace that he's at right now, he can not only be the all-time leading receiver in Falcons history, to me he has enough talent to be the all-time leading receiver in the NFL," White told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure of Jones. "That's if he plays long enough."
Jones recently reached 1,400 receiving yards for the fifth straight season, becoming the only receiver in NFL history to accomplish that feat.
To read the rest of McClure’s piece on White’s admiration of Jones, click here.
Week 14 power rankings:
By this point in the season, Falcons fans could be forgiven for skipping out on checking various NFL power rankings. Atlanta has only going in one direction during its five-game losing streak, and it isn’t the direction many want to see. Be sure to also check out Matt Tabeek’s Wildly Important Power Rankings while you’re here.
“If the last few weeks are any indication, the Falcons might be fortunate to finish 6-10. Hard to believe for a group that nearly won the Super Bowl two years ago and came a football-in-between-Julio-Jones'-hands from defeating the Super Bowl champs in last season's Divisional Round. The injuries are what they are, but Atlanta is playing terrible football right now. The numbers from Sunday look so-so, but bear in mind that 14 of the Falcons' 20 points and nearly two-thirds of their total yards came in garbage time after they fell behind 34-7. Surely Dan Quinn's outfit can handle the visiting Cardinals this week, right?”
“Dan Quinn gets a pass because of all the injuries for this team's slide. But the pressure will be on in 2019.”
“Top wish list item: A win, any win. The Falcons have lost five in a row and are guaranteed to finish with a losing record for the first time under Dan Quinn. They need something to feel good about going into the offseason, so having the lowly Arizona Cardinals come to town could be the answer to breaking the streak. Then again, the Cardinals won at Green Bay and got Mike McCarthy fired.”
As the Falcons begin to turn an eye towards the future, there will be plenty of meetings about who will remain with the team as they move forward. Some of those evaluations have already begun, but there’s still much that won’t be decided for some time.
Among those decisions is the future of running back Tevin Coleman who will become a free agent after this season. When both are healthy, Devonta Freeman and Coleman can be one of the league’s top running back duos. According to coach Dan Quinn, it’s not out of the question that they will remain a duo past this season.
"Yep. For sure," Quinn said of the possibility Coleman returns. "Everything's on the table. When we're in the scenario that we're in, which we're not very pleased at, you evaluate anything and everything. So, yeah, we're certainly going to consider every single option in every way."
ESPN’s Vaughn McClure wrote about the possibility of Coleman’s return to the team and the importance of the run game to the Falcons’ offensive identity. To read his piece, click here.
CBS Sports: 2019 NFL mock draft
With the offseason drawing closer, some sites have begun throwing out mock drafts. CBS Sports is often among the sites with the most mock drafts in the leadup to draft night, and Chris Trapasso has one predicting how he believes things will unfold come April. Trapasso has the Falcons drafting at No. 11 and adding a big name on the defensive line: Houston’s Ed Oliver.
“Somewhat of fall for Oliver, and the Falcons are ecstatic to pick him here to pair next to the similarly ‘undersized’ but explosive Grady Jarrett,” Trapasso writes.
To read the rest of Trapasso’s mock draft, click here.
ESPN: Falcons start looking to future in loss
Every time it seems as though the Falcons have found some type of answer to a question they’ve had for most of the season, several more questions pop up to take its place. During their 34-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday, the Falcons ran the ball well and sacked Aaron Rodgers four times, matching their season high.
The result, however, was no different than it was the four weeks prior. Atlanta continues to search for answers for both the present and the future, as ESPN’s Vaughn McClure wrote about after the game.
"I said, 'As dark as it is, the men that will get it right here in these three weeks are the men that are standing in this room,'" Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "Just wanting it to get better isn't a great way for real progress. You've got to make changes that are consistent to playing better."
To read McClure’s piece on the Falcons looking to the future, click here.
AJC: Falcons have started to look to future
During Sunday’s game, there were a number of Falcons players who saw increased playing time. Per Dan Quinn, that was intentional. Ty Sambrailo started at right tackle over Ryan Schraeder, and Isaiah Oliver and Ryan Neal were also among the players who had their roles increased. As Atlanta closes out the season, it appears they will be evaluating for the future, as D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote in a piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I’ve started that already,” Quinn said of evaluating for the future. “Ty is certainly one that we wanted to do. We’ll go back and look at the performance and see how it went. Same thing with Brian [Hill] and Isaiah. It wasn’t much past that. Ryan Neal was active. We put him on special teams. That was his first performance. ... Some were limited roles.”
To read the rest of Ledbetter’s piece, click here.
AJC: Quinn on 4-9 Falcons: ‘There’s definitely disbelief’
This season has been undoubtedly frustrating for the Falcons, who have not performed the way people both inside the team and on the outside expected. As Dan Quinn works to get things corrected as the 2018 season draws to a close, there was a little bit of reflecting after Sunday’s game.
“It’s definitely maddening and frustrating,” Quinn said of this season. “There’s definitely disbelief.”
Mark Bradley wrote a column on the Falcons’ frustrations and how their season has come to unfold for the AJC, which you can read here.