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'One of the best leaders I've been around': How Grady Jarrett is setting a standard for the Falcons

The veteran defensive lineman leads the Falcons defense with 3.5 sacks

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees wasted no time when asked how Grady Jarrett is playing this season.

"Great," he said keenly. "Great. If you open the dictionary and it said pro, it'd be Grady Jarrett. His name would be right behind it. The guy comes to work every day, practices his butt off, plays his butt off."


Jarrett is having one of the most dynamic starts in his eight-year career. He's averaging 3.5 sacks through the first five games, which is nearly half of what he averaged (7.5) in 2019; his first Pro Bowl season.

Outside of his stats though, Jarrett's leadership this season is what sticks out the most. Players feel it and coaches see it. His on-field play is just a mere example of the standard he's setting in the Falcons locker room.

"He's having a terrific season," head coach Arthur Smith said. "He's one of those guys the longer I've been around him, the more fortunate I am to be able to coach a guy like Grady. He's rare. He plays multiple spots for us and one of the best leaders I've been around. He understands how to set people up in the pass rush and knows how to take his chances in the run game. He's playing really good football for us."

During the offseason, Pees moved Jarrett around the defense a bit, allowing him to learn multiple positions which has played a part in his defensive production this season.

"We tried to do some things with him, and we tried to get him in positions to make more plays, because he plays hard," Pees said. "He's a great leader, he is a great captain, and I can't say enough things about him. I love the guy."

Jarret mentioned moving around on defense was an adjustment for him but one he was open to.

"It definitely was an adjustment learning a new defense, but they had to learn me as well," Jarrett said. "Spending a year together under the defense and gaining trust was hand-in-hand. It's been fun, it's definitely been a challenge, you know learning different positions and stuff like that, but I definitely like it and I think it's working out for us as a whole team."

Take a look as the team puts in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Jarrett leads the Falcons defense in sacks (3.5), with two of those being game altering helping to lead the Falcons to two consecutive victories.

In each of the last three games, Jarrett has found his way in the backfield sacking a quarterback late in the fourth quarter making a pivotal play for the defense. In his words "coming and bringing heat all game," has been the ethos of how he's playing for the Falcons.

That's been the mentality for Jarrett the entire season. A mentality set on helping the Falcons establish a winning culture.

"Playing with great effort, you know, in crunch time, I just think it's another level that you go to but at the end of the day, when the opportunity presents itself, you just want to take advantage of it," he added. "Whether that's in the first quarter or fourth quarter but finishing is something that I definitely had on my to-do list.

"When I'm scouting myself and thinking about things I can do better, starting fast and finishing is always at the top of my list every week. However that may look, however that may come, I just got to be ready for the opportunity when it presents itself."


The Falcons Audible presented by AT&T

Each week, host Derek Rackley and former Falcons QBs Dave Archer and DJ Shockley will talk about the Falcons, the NFC South and the biggest storylines around the NFL.

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