What a Sad News: Falcons Shining Star is Totally in a Bad condition…

‘Foundation of this Defense’: Atlanta Falcons Lose Irreplaceable Leader Grady Jarrett.

The Falcons are finally giving Grady Jarrett the defense he deserves to  play on - The Falcoholic

The Atlanta Falcons will be without defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, one of their best players – and leaders – for the rest of the season … but they feel he’s poised to return better than ever.

When the Atlanta Falcons landed on the runway following Sunday’s road game against the Tennessee Titans, assistant head coach/defense Jerry Gray departed the plane behind defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

Gray approached Jarrett, who played only four snaps in Atlanta’s 28-23 loss due to a knee injury, with a question.

“He was walking, and I said, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ And he said, ‘I feel positive,’ before he got the information,” Gray said.

That “information” was the outcome feared most – the Falcons announced Monday that Jarrett suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

Since entering the league as a fifth-round pick in 2015, Jarrett has been a staple on Atlanta’s defense. He nearly owns as many Pro Bowl nods (two) as games missed (three).

In times of flux, Jarrett’s been a stabilizing presence – and now, with the Falcons tied for the lead in the NFC South and eyeing their first playoff berth in six years, their leader is no longer in the picture.

“He’s been the foundation of this defense for a long time,” outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter said. “It’s going to be tough. We’ve got to understand we’ve got to step up and make more plays for him.”

The Falcons know they can’t fully replace Jarrett. He’s been one of the NFL’s most productive interior defenders over the past several years, and while this year’s stat line – one and a half sacks, two tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits – may not reflect it, he’s been incredibly valuable for defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.

That said, Atlanta took a step towards trying to mitigate Jarrett’s loss Monday, striking a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for defensive tackle Kentavius Street.

Nielsen and Street spent three years together at North Carolina State University and another last season with the New Orleans Saints. Nielsen believes the familiarity will help Street acclimate quickly to Atlanta.

But still, Jarrett’s loss can’t be filled by just one player.

“As far as replacing him, you really can’t,” Gray said. “You need a couple of guys to step up, to say, ‘Hey, whoever’s coming in, you shouldn’t try to play like Grady. Be like you.’ But if we’ve got to put two guys in, we’ve got to do that. You can’t think you’re going to get one guy and that’s going to be Grady Jarrett.

Grady Jarrett finally has running mate along Falcons defensive line

“We’ve got to do the next-man-up and be ready to go.”

It’s possible third-year defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham could be the biggest beneficiary of the snaps now up for grabs, as he saw action on a season-high 26 plays against Tennessee.

In Weeks 5 and 6, Graham was a healthy scratch, but he’s played two of his three biggest snap counts in the past two games.

But Graham, who missed the final seven games of last season with a torn MCL, also has an opportunity to reciprocate a favor to Jarrett after the veteran helped him through difficult times in his own injury recovery.

Graham described Jarrett as a trooper, but most importantly a friend and leader. He’s confident Jarrett will do everything needed to get back to full health, with the emotional support of his teammates only helping the situation.

Jarrett, 30, has seen enough injuries to know how to attack rehab, Graham said – but it didn’t stop the 24-year-old from offering insight on what he learned during his recovery last year.

“Staying positive and knowing it’s a step-by-step process,” Graham said. “You’re not going to get better overnight, you’re going to get better a couple months from now. It’s going to take a while, and there’s going to be ups and downs, and you’ve got to recognize it.

“Always keeping your head up and always pushing forward is the key.”

Graham is only one instance of a defensive lineman being prompted into a bigger role with Jarrett’s absence. David Onyemata is another, safety Jessie Bates III said.

Jarrett no longer being in the mix puts more on Onyemata’s plate as a leader. He’ll also face more double teams inside, making life more difficult for the Falcons’ tackle for loss leader.

But Bates feels Atlanta has the pieces needed to play at a high level on the defensive front even without Jarrett, starting with Onyemata and working through the rest of the deep rotation.

“Just being able to identify what it’s going to take to pick up for a big loss like that, so I think we’re more than capable of doing that,” Bates said. “I think David understands his role will be bigger. He may need to talk more. It’s unfortunate what happened, but you have to be able to adjust and adapt.”

Atlanta’s coaching staff is focused on finding ways to overcome Jarrett’s loss – but make no mistake: the value he brings to the Falcons both on and off the field is irreplaceable.

The challenge Atlanta’s facing is immense, but in the time being, the organization remains focused on uplifting Jarrett … although the veteran leader appears one step ahead.

“We’ll be there every step of the way, and just talking with him, his mind is alright about, ‘Hey, I’m going to get this taken care of. I’m going to come back. I’m going to attack the rehab process, and I’m going to come back better than before,’” Nielsen said. “So, you love that response and how his mind is right now. He’s definitely thinking the right way.”

The Falcons will enter Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with a new look.

Taylor Heinicke replaced Desmond Ridder at quarterback. Star receiver Drake London is out. Atlanta is expected to be without starting linebacker Troy Andersen for the rest of the season.

Taylor Heinicke will start at QB for Falcons this week; Desmond Ridder will  be No. 2

And, of course, the stalwart in the middle of the Falcons’ defense won’t be in the place he’s been each of the past 84 games.

Instead, Jarrett will be on the sideline, offering advice when needed and doing his best to impact games the best he can – just as a true leader does.

And then, when his opportunity arises next season, the Falcons believe Jarrett will return to the disruptive player he’s long been – if not reach a new level.

“We’ll get him back,” Nielsen said, “and you’ll see – he will come back, and he’ll be better than he was when he left this year.”

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