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Grady Jarrett is out for the season with a torn ACL

Losing the team’s terrific defensive tackle and locker room leader is a huge blow to the defense.

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

When the Falcons lost Grady Jarrett on Sunday against the Titans, the dropoff in their run defense and pass rush were both noticeable. Jarrett is just a tremendous all-around player and one of Atlanta’s best defenders, so it was hardly a surprise to see the Atlanta Falcons scuffle a bit without him in there, especially with Derrick Henry running the ball. We hoped, fervently, that it would be a short-term injury.

Unfortunately, per ESPN insider Adam Schefter, it is not. Grady Jarrett reportedly has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the 2023 season in a massive blow to the team’s resurgent defense and a crushing injury for a player we all love.

Jarrett, 30, has been one of the team’s better defenders ever since the Falcons were fortunate enough to scoop him up late in the 2015 NFL Draft. This year, he was an anchor for a rebuilt defensive line, playing his usual brand of stellar run defense and chipping in 1.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits as the team’s relentless presence on the interior. Paired with David Onyemata, Jarrett was killing it for a defense that suddenly looked like a top ten unit. Now the Falcons will have to get the job done without him, which is no easy task.

Onyemata is rock solid and Calais Campbell will likely get much more time next to him on the interior, but this should spur the Falcons to add a defensive lineman, with that Montez Sweat trade looking extra appealing if Campbell is set to kick inside. They’ll also lean more heavily on LaCale London and Ta’Quon Graham, young players who have plenty of talent and have been stepping into slightly larger roles in recent weeks, with a bench featuring Albert Huggins, Joe Gaziano, and practice squad defensive tackle Timothy Horne to dip into as well. London took the bulk of Jarrett’s snaps on Sunday, and I would expect him and Campbell to split most of that work.

None of those players are going to be as good as Jarrett, so it will take a village to get the job done for Atlanta. It seems likely they won’t simply stand pat, even if the addition ends up being as simple as getting Horne on the roster full-time instead of just on the practice squad.

We wish Jarrett well on his recovery, and we’ll have to hope the defense can find a way to continue to play at a high level without him.