Grady Jarrett is one of the team’s best defenders of the past 20 years. At his best over the last 2-3 seasons, he’s been close to unblockable, as he was when he destroyed Tom Brady in the Super Bowl in February 2017, or as he’s been every time a foolish offensive line does not devote the proper resources to stopping him. In 2019, he was 4th in the NFL in tackles for loss, 6th in quarterback hits, and tied for 6th in sacks for his position, making him one of the most productive defensive tackles in the league.
Considering all that, it’s probably not surprising that Jarrett is going to be looking to make his mark on the team’s record books this year. That’s even more true if you’re familiar with this team’s sorry recent history with pass rushers and players who actually make contact with opposing quarterbacks, leading us to regard Jarrett’s incoming accomplishments with a mixture of awe for his ability and sadness that the Falcons have rarely gotten him (or hell, guys like John Abraham) more help.
Here’s the deal: Jarrett currently has 21.5 sacks, including 7.5 a year ago. That puts him at 16th in team history, just behind Shane Dronett. If he can match his 7.5 sacks from 2019, he’ll be tied for 9th all-time with Rick Bryan, and he’ll have blown by the likes of Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux to get there. If he follows that up with 7.5 in 2021, he’d be in 6th all-time after just 7 seasons, which would be sort of insane until you remember that Vic Beasley currently stands at 5th.
Jarrett’s also on pace to be 4th in tackles for loss by the end of the year, given that he had 12 in 2019 and is just one behind Keith Brooking and two behind Brady Smith for that honor.
On the one hand, these rankings are a product of not having stats and tackles for loss counted when greats like Tommy Nobis and Claude Humphrey roamed Fulton County Stadium, and the fact that the Falcons have had exactly one top-shelf pass rusher in the last decade-plus. On the other hand, Jarrett is moving up these rankings quickly because he is a legitimately dominant player who is producing at defensive tackle like no player in recent memory, and I say that as an avowed Jonathan Babineaux fan. The sky truly is the limit for a player who is young enough and capable enough to be considered the best defensive tackle in the league besides Aaron Donald widely, not just in our corner of the Internet.
We’ll see where Jarrett ends up next year, but he’s already carved out a nice place in the team’s record books, and it’s only going to get better from here.