Goober Pyle

Grady Jarrett fittingly at center of Falcons’ unexpected uprising

9 posts in this topic

NEW ORLEANS — This is what it looks like in the alternate universe.

“A good view,” Ricardo Allen said. “I saw Drew (Brees) going through his reads, and he couldn’t make it to his last couple of guys.”

This is what it sounds like in an alternate universe.

“Who Dat!” De’Vondre Campbell shouted as he ran into the locker room.

“Aaaaaaaaaaggghhhh!” Jamon Brown uttered in a primal scream.

“Yessir! Shut the f*** up! Shut the f*** up! Shut the f*** up!” Damontae Kazee shouted as he ran off the field in a celebratory rant, and it can’t be certain if that was directed at comatose New Orleans fans, irritated Falcons fans, media or the rest of the Falcons-hating world. Or all of the above.

OK. What just happened?

In the long and often strange history of Falcons-Saints games, No. 101 in the series will go down as one of the most unexpected results. The Falcons, playoff dead after going 1-7 in the first half of the season, returned from a bye Sunday to play what potentially could have been Dan Quinn’s final game as their head coach.

Then something strange happened.

Actually, a lot of strange things happened.

They won 26-9. A 1-7 team defeated a 7-1 team in the NFL for the first time since 2003, and that wasn’t even nearly the most surprising development.

A defense with seven sacks in the first eight games had six in the ninth. A defense that had been torched for more than 31 points per game in the first half of the season held the Saints, now with Brees back at quarterback, to three field goals.

The Falcons played like they were expected to before this season began nine weeks ago when an unexpected virus hit. They exhibited some resiliency, a four-letter word for most of this season, playing their best game despite losing running back Devonta Freeman and tight end Austin Hooper during the game and missing cornerback Desmond Trufant. The offense also ran the ball effectively and had four extended scoring drives of 56 to 75 yards, which limited the Saints’ number of possessions.

So many questions.

Like: Where has this been?

Like: How does a 1-7 team and 13½-point underdog dump a 7-1 team on its home field?

Like: Will we see this again?

But before silliness and projected images of an 8-0 second half and 9-7 finish for a wild playoff finish, take a cleansing breath.

“We’re appreciating the moment right now,” Grady Jarrett said.

Nobody was better than Jarrett on Sunday. Nobody deserved this more than the defensive tackle at the center of the team’s defense and remaining heartbeat.

Jarrett had 2½ sacks that totaled 17 yards in losses and five total quarterback hits. He is one of the few accountable players and team leaders left in the locker room from the 2016 Super Bowl season and one of the few starters living up to his contract.

The Saints’ offensive line couldn’t do anything to contain Jarrett. The Falcons pressured Brees constantly with mostly a four-man rush, registering 11 QB hits. Quinn moved assistant Raheem Morris back to secondary coach during the bye weeks and yielded defensive play-calling to Jeff Ulbrich in Arizona three weeks ago. Shifting Morris appeared to make a difference in the defensive backs’ performance but most notable was the communication between the back end and front end of the defense.

Brees has made a career of buying time when receivers are covered. This time, after his first and second reads, there was no time.

“Communication (between) the rushing and the coverage,” Jarrett said. “They did a really good job on the back end and made the quarterback hold the ball. We were able to get to them. That felt really good.”

When was the last time he experienced this much joy?

“The last time we won,” Jarrett said. “It’s hard to win in this league. We’ve been in a little slump.”

(Points for understatement.)

“It feels really good, and encouraging, and motivating,” Jarrett said when asked about the six sacks. “You want to get more and more. We have to build off this performance going forward. There’s a lot of football still left to play.”

The 1-7 start can’t be erased. But, he said, “You can’t change anything by looking back.”

The Falcons showed they are capable of this kind of performance. You can take that as good news (they realized it) or bad news (it took until the ninth game before they brought it).

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has been weighing the pluses and minuses of a coaching change. He said before the bye he wanted to “take a couple of weeks” to meet with his senior staff. Obviously, this extends the coach’s lifeline.

Allen was aware of the backdrop. He also believed this performance was in the defense somewhere.

“I go into every game thinking we’re going to win. But today was just a different feeling,” he said. “Everybody was locked in. There wasn’t very much talking. Not very much hoopla. Everybody knew they had to just do their job.”

Asked about Jarrett’s performance, Allen smiled and said, “Us in the secondary, when you get to sit back and watch that, when you see that (Brees) can’t step up in the pocket and make the throws that he wanted to and he can’t go through all of his reads, we appreciate that.”

It was a rare day — one to appreciate a Falcons performance. So we know it was in there, somewhere. It just took a while.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Ergo Proxy said:

Worth every penny.


It could very well end up being a bargain.

AND he’s been a Falcon for life.  I’ll never forget his rookie season in preseason NFL films got him saying how surreal it was for him to be playing in the Dome.  He said something like your don’t understand,  this is my team’

Soooo happy the Falcons locked him up.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Mid-Nite-Toker said:

Son of Tuggle earning that dough.

For the life of me, can't understand why it took so long for Foye to get more snaps.

that stupid/non-effective 5/2 defense Quinn had em in til today...

papachaz and Schwarzwald like this

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Mid-Nite-Toker said:

Son of Tuggle earning that dough.

For the life of me, can't understand why it took so long for Foye to get more snaps.

Forcing basically 2 LB looks with that 3-4/5-2 and having Takk/Vic play "OLB" instead of Foye...

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now