It’s midseason! That means it’s a good time to look at the Falcons as they stand today and see who is most deserving of the big end of season awards eight games in to the season. As you’ll see below, MVP came down to just a couple of obvious candidates.
This may seem like a easy “go-to” answer, but no player has been more criticized and talked about as trade-bait this year than Ryan. Yet, even with an offensive coordinator whose route combinations are devoid of creativity, he’s delivered more consistently than most anyone around him. He’s on pace for over 4900 yards, currently has 12 TDs to only 4 INTs and a 97.6 passer rating. The fact that this team needs him to put forth perfect games every week in order to win tells you far more about the roster than it does about him. He may not be playing his absolute best football, but he is far from the biggest issue on this team. We’re lucky to have him. - David Walker
The MVPs could be all the big names, but one player has killing it regardless of coaching, matchup, or the play of everyone else around him: Grady Jarrett. Not only is he tied for the most sacks on the team, but he has become such an important and valuable impact player in the middle of the defense. This is particularly impressive considering the talent and the coaching have been subpar, at best, for the last few years. Jarrett deserves way more respect from the rest of the NFL. - Matt Chambers
There’s a couple players that are worthy such as Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett, Foye Oluokun, etc. Not a popular pick, but I’m going with Todd Gurley. Gurley signed with the Falcons on a relatively cheap one-year deal amid concerns surrounding the health of his knee. Through 8 games, the knee hasn’t been an issue and despite basic play designs by Dirk Koetter, Gurley is doing well this year. He’s currently on pace for 16 touchdowns and 1,062 yards, both would make this his best season since he was a First Team All-Pro selection in 2018. Although he likely won’t be back next season, and there’s still 8 games for things to change, he’s my Falcons’ MVP pick for the first half of the season. – Evan Birchfield
I know that it’s probably a bit controversial to put a defensive player for MVP, given that this has been a largely awful defense in 2020, so let’s be clear about why. Jarrett has been easily the team’s best player on defense and has, by his mere presence and physicality, enabled so much of the success of players like Foye Oluokun and Deion Jones behind him, not to take anything away from the quality of their play. He’s been the team’s best pass rusher, run defender, and blocker occupier, and as the defense starts to slowly improve, his excellence is driving that. I truly think that minus Jarrett this would be the worst defense in the NFL, and with nobody else having a truly superlative, fully healthy season, Jarrett’s the guy so far. - Dave Choate
It’s not an exciting answer I know, but Grady Jarrett continues to be the steady metronome of Atlanta’s defense — consistent as ever. The defense around Jarrett has not been good, but without the Clemson alum this unit would be on pace to set some historic records of infamy. The fact that teams can continue giving Jarrett more attention than ever, because he has no real help along the defensive line, makes his performance this season all the more impressive. Grady Jarrett is an elite player at his position, and I hope the team can do him a justice and give him some sort of help while he’s still in his prime.
- Adnan Ikic