The Falcons have seen and created quite a bit of change in the past two seasons, with franchise icons like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones headed elsewhere and multi-year contributors like Keanu Neal leaving. The futures of some once-high-wattage stars are uncertain, as well, with Calvin Ridley’s suspension and the ongoing trade rumors for Deion Jones.
Every year, I like to quickly look through Pro Football Reference and put together an article or two on where some long-tenured Falcons can wind up on the team’s all-time leaderboards in a variety of statistics, as I did with Deion Jones last year or Grady Jarrett in 2020. This year, the list is a bit shorter than it was in past offseasons because of all the change I’ve mentioned above, as rookies like Desmond Ridder, Tyler Allgeier, and Arnold Ebiketie. Second-year pros like Kyle Pitts will need time to start cracking the top of Falcons franchise categories, as well.
Still, let’s take a look at three Falcons who will be charging up the franchise leaderboards with quality years, or in a couple of cases, just by showing up every Sunday.
Grady Jarrett: Games played, sacks
If you want to know how this team feels about Jarrett, you can follow the money and commitment, given that he and Jake Matthews are the only two long-tenured Falcons the team extended this offseason. Or you can listen to Dean Pees say some of the kindest things I’ve ever heard him say about another human being. Either way.
“There wasn’t anybody happier on this planet than me when he signed,” Pees said. “I really hope that he has the opportunity to be a Falcon forever. Being in Baltimore where Ray Lewis was the face of the franchise on defense, I think Grady is that to us. He’s the perfect pro. He’s everything you ask for as a coach in a player. The way he practices, the way he plays, everything. Having a guy like that with not only his talent but the type of man that he is, it’s so important to us and our unit. I couldn’t be happier that he got that thing extended.”
As you’d expected for someone that has been around close to a decade now and is one of the undisputed best players on this defense, Jarrett is inching closer to the top of the team’s all-time leaderboards in a couple of categories. The first is games played, where Jarrett will tie the great Claude Humphrey if he manages a full 17 game season. That would put him at 21st all-time for games played with the franchise,
Jarrett is currently 15th on the franchise’s all-time sacks list—I’m counting the unofficial numbers Pro Football Reference added because Claude Humphrey and John Zook deserve the recognition—and is only 5.5 sacks away from cracking the top 10 and tying Brady Smith with 32. If Jarrett were to manage 6 sacks this season, he’ll pass Smith and be all alone at 10, a further 5 away from tying late 70s-to-early-80s fixtures Don Smith and Jeff Merrow. I’m fully expecting a bit of a bounceback season after Jarrett had just one sack a year ago.
Younghoe Koo: Field goals attempted & made, extra points attempted & made
The Falcons have been blessed with a pretty great run at kicker over the last decade-plus, transitioning from one very good Jason Elam year to Matt Bryant’s legendary run to Koo, who is putting his own stamp on this franchise.
How much of a stamp? Koo is just three 50-plus field goal attempts and makes away from being second all-time in franchise history in those categories, though he’ll be well behind Bryant. He only needs 11 attempts overall to be top 5 there, passing Norm Johnson and Nick Mike-Mayer in the process, and can be top 4 in made field goals if he hits 12. Both of those feel like mortal locks.
He’s a little further behind in extra point attempts—thanks, Falcons offense—but if he attempts 25 this year Koo will jump from 9th to 6th in that category. He’ll need to make 26 to make the exact same 9-to-6 leap in makes.
Regardless of how this season shakes out, Koo’s already one of the most reliable kickers in team history, and the only question is how close he’ll get to Bryant in the coming years.
Jake Matthews: Games played
Only 20 players total and two left tackles have played more games for the Falcons than Matthews, who should catch up to the great Bob Whitfield if he sticks in Atlanta 3-4 more seasons. He’s probably not catching the top left tackle on the all-time list, given that Matthews has played 128 games over nearly a decade and Mike Kenn played in an incredible 251.
Matthews still can climb this particular leaderboard, which is a testament to how durable and reliable he’s been in his career to this point. With a full season, he’ll leapfrog Matt Bosher, Tommy Nobis, Travis Hall, and Julio Jones en route to 17th on this list. He’ll be just two games away from tying Matt Bryant heading into 2023 if that happens.