Sunday, June 18, 2017

[OC] Underrated Stars: Grady Jarrett


Grady Jarrett

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Name Grady Jarrett
Team Atlanta Falcons
Position DT, #97
Height/Weight 6', 305 LBs
College Clemson
Year Team Tackles Sacks Forced Fumbles
2015 Atlanta Falcons 24 1 0
2016 Atlanta Falcons 48 3 0
Career 72 4 0

While many do not know the name, Grady Jarrett wreaks havoc on the inside of the Falcons defensive line. His all-around ability to contribute in both run and pass defense from the defensive tackle position make him a valuable young player on the team. His performance in Super Bowl LI this season catapulted him to national recognition, and some believed that he was deserving of the Super Bowl MVP award. However, before examining Jarrett’s play, we should explore his journey to the NFL.

Jarrett attended Rockdale County High School in Conyers, GA, and was a two-time all-state selection. He was a four-year starter on both sides of the ball, and the best player on the team for most of his tenure. During his senior season, Jarrett racked up 101 tackles, 31.5 TFLs, and 9 sacks. He was also a member of the school’s wrestling team, and came in fourth in the state as a junior. Jarrett was also a member of the track/field team, and won the state title in the shot put. Wrestling allowed Jarrett to build up his upper body strength, something he is renowned for in the NFL.

Jarrett chose to attend Clemson, and was ranked as the #41 DT in the nation by rivals.com. During his first season as a collegiate athlete (2011), he appeared in 9 games. The season was not very eventful for Jarrett, as he only recorded 2 tackles (one against Virginia Tech and one against North Carolina). The following season, Jarrett became a fixture at DT. He burst onto the scene at Clemson, recording 49 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, a pass breakup, and a recovered fumble. During his first career start against Auburn, Jarrett recorded 3 tackles against Auburn. His best game of the season came against Georgia Tech, when Jarrett recorded 10 tackles and a recovered fumble. His two sacks came against Duke and Lousiana State, where he had one each. In 2013, Jarrett was named an All-ACC honorable mention at DT, and tallied 83 tackles, 11 TFLs, 2 sacks, and 2 recovered fumbles. His best game of the season came against North Carolina, when he recorded 15 tackles and 2 TFLs. His two fumble recoveries came against Maryland and Georgia Tech, while the sacks came against North Carolina State and Ohio State. The team managed to reach the Orange Bowl, where they defeated the Buckeyes 40-35. Following the season, Jarrett announced his intent to return to Clemson for his senior season rather than enter the 2014 NFL Draft (which featured names such as Jadeveon Clowney, Aaron Donald, and Dee Ford). His final season was his most productive, as he logged 73 tackles, 10 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 2 FFs, and fumble recovery. Following the season, Jarrett was named as a first-team all-ACC selection, and was invited to the Senior Bowl. His most productive game came against Wake Forest, when he recorded 9 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, and 1.5 sacks (his season total in sacks). His forced fumbles came against Georgia and Oklahoma, while the lone fumble recovery of the season for Jarrett came against North Carolina State. The team reached the Russell Athletic Bowl, where they dominated the Oklahoma Sooners 40-6. Following the game, Jarrett announced his intentions to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

Jarrett entered the Draft with hopes of being chosen on Days 2-3. On the second day of the Draft, Jarrett’s childhood home in Georgia burned down due to an electrical problem. Nearly 50 family members and friends were at the house, but nobody was injured. The next day, the Atlanta Falcons drafted the hometown player (who grew up 30 minutes from Atlanta) with the 137th pick in the 5th round. Following his selection, the Falcons immediately sent Jarrett Falcons gear to wear, as most of his clothes had been destroyed.

Many believed that Jarrett was a player to watch during Training Camp, evidenced by this Falcons.com article and this Sports Illustrated article. This article notes Jarrett’s versatility, as well as his strength (pressuring the QB). In Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jarrett recorded his first career tackle. In Week 8, Jarrett recorded 3 tackles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His best game of the season came in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he totaled 4 tackles and a sack (his only one of the season). He would be quiet for the rest of the season, recording 8 tackles in the final three games. Jarrett finished his rookie season with 24 tackles and a sack.

Expectations were high for Jarrett entering his second season, as he was expected to receive a larger role in the Falcons defense. In the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he recorded 3 tackles. In Week 5 against the Denver Broncos, Jarrett recorded his first sack of the season. Four weeks later, Jarrett recorded another sack, once again against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The next week, he recorded 6 tackles against the Philadelphia Eagles. His third sack of the season came in Week 17 against the New Orleans Saints. Jarrett also recorded 3 tackles over the course of the game. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Jarrett was rather quiet, totaling only 4 tackles. However, in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, Jarrett went off. He recorded 3 sacks during the game, which equaled his career sack total. He also recorded 4 tackles during the game. Although the Falcons epic collapse led to a loss in the big game, Jarrett’s performance was applauded on the national stage.

Jarrett is the son of former Falcons LB Jesse Tuggle, who played for the team between 1987-2000. Tuggle is in the Falcons Ring of Honor, and recorded 1,809 career tackles. Jarrett knows former Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis, and refers to him as “uncle.”


This section will detail Jarrett’s playstyle, and explain why he is such a valuable asset to the Falcons defensive line:

I- Run-Stuffing Ability

One strength of Jarrett’s playstyle is his ability to stop the run. In this play against the New England Patriots, he is lined up on the interior of the defensive line. Brady turns and hands the ball off to RB Dion Lewis, who attempts to run off tackle, with RG Shaq Mason and FB James Develin leading the way. DE Dwight Freeney attempts to wrestle Lewis to the ground, but he is able to shed the veteran pass-rusher and keep moving forward. LB Deion Jones and S Keanu Neal come downhill, looking to hit Lewis and take him down. However, Jarrett sheds his block, and wraps Lewis up around the torso. He then proceeds to toss Lewis to the ground, taking himself along for the ride. He then makes sure to quickly let Lewis go, so as to not incur a personal foul penalty. This play shows Jarrett’s run-stopping ability, as well as his aggressiveness in the run game.

Another play that demonstrates this concept is this one against the Denver Broncos. The play is designed as a stretch to the left side, and the entire line slides to that side, so as to wall of the RB from the defensive line. The play is run as designed, and FB Andy Janovich leads the way, sealing off LB Phillip Wheeler. Jarrett is matched up against C Matt Paradis, and engages with him as the line shifts left. He uses his power to push Paradis into the backfield, cutting off the RBs’s lane. He is then forced to cut back inside, where there are no blockers. As the runner attempts to squeeze through, Jarrett is able to disengage from his blocker, and wraps his arms around the back. This motion slows the RB down enough for the rest of the defense to swallow him up. This play demonstrates Jarrett’s run defense because it shows him overpowering his blocker to reach the RB and make a tackle at the line of scrimmage.

This play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is yet another example of Jarrett’s run-stopping ability. In this play, QB Jameis Winston is in the pistol, with 3 WRs and a TE on the right side, while RB Jacquizz Rodgers is flanking Winston to his left. The Falcons show a 4-man front, with 2 players standing at ~39-yard line with the CBs in press coverage. Winston immediately takes the snap and hands off to Rodgers. Immediately, 5 players begin attacking the line, so as to stop the runner. The C and GG both assume their responsibilities, but leave the “A” gap (between the two linemen) unblocked. Jarrett notices this, and crashes through the opening into the backfield. He runs right into Rodgers, forcing the back to brace himself for impact. He stumbles ahead before being swarmed by the remainder of the defense for a loss. This play shows Jarrett’s ability to diagnose plays and find the most efficient path to the ball carrier.

II- Pass Rush Ability

This play against the New England Patriots is a good example of Jarrett’s ability to get to the QB in passing situations. QB Tom Brady drops back to throw, and his offensive line initially keeps the pocket clean, as Jarrett is engaged with RG Shaq Mason. However, as the play continues developing, the line begins to break down. Jarrett notices an opening on the right side of the line, and moves to that point. RT Marcus Cannon notices this movement, but he is too late. Jarrett blows by the bulky tackle, and beelines towards Brady. As Jarrett dives at the ankles of the famed QB, he is able to harmlessly toss the ball away. Brady goes to the ground as Jarrett pulls him down by the legs. This play demonstrates Jarrett’s pass rush ability because he is able to diagnose the play, disengage from his blocker, and record a hit on the QB.

Another play that illustrates Jarrett’s pass-rushing is this one against the Denver Broncos. QB Paxton Lynch is in the pistol, with a 5-man protection, 4 WRs, and a RB flanking him to his left. The Falcons, meanwhile, are anticipating pass, with 4 defensive linemen, 4 cornerbacks playing off, and 3 players who are not visible on the screen. Lynch takes the snap, and begins his three-step drop. DE Courtney Upshaw is able to push his blocker into the backfield, flushing Lynch outside the pocket. As Lynch moves to his left, LT Russell Okung is unable to remain engaged with Jarrett. The defensive tackle is able to work free of Okung, and begins pursuing the QB. Lynch attempts to redirect his receiver downfield, but accepts his fate and pulls the ball down. Both Jarrett and LB Brooks Reed lunge at the QB, but only Jarrett wraps up the signal-caller and throws him to the ground. This play shows Jarrett’s pass-rushing ability because he is able to disengage from the blocker and plant the QB in the ground.

A third play that demonstrates Jarrett’s ability to pressure the QB on passing plays is this one against the Carolina Panthers. On this play, the Panthers have their 5 offensive linemen all firing out in pass protection, as well as RB Fozzy Whittaker leaking out of the backfield. QB Cam Newton takes the snap and drops back, but the pocket collapses almost immediately. Jarrett and LB Vic Beasley switch sides, as Jarrett penetrates from the outside while Beasley goes inside. RG Trai Turner makes a feeble attempt to push Jarrett away, but the strong defensive tackle will have none of it. Jarrett wraps up Newton, and throws him to the ground using his body. As he falls to the turf, Newton is able to throw the ball away from harm. The ball sails into the sideline, away from any player, offensive or defensive. This play demonstrates Jarrett’s pass-rushing ability because it shows him getting around an offensive lineman to reach the QB.

III- Aggressiveness/Hustle

Jarrett is one of the most aggressive defensive linemen in the NFL, and his play on the field reflects that. This play against the Seattle Seahawks is a great example of Jarrett’s aggressive nature. On this play, QB Russell Wilson is under center, with RB Christine Michael 8 yards deep in the backfield. There is a bunch set at the top of the screen, while TE Jimmy Graham is lined up next to the left tackle. Defensively, Atlanta shows a 4-man front with 3 LBs, while there are 3 defenders matchup against the bunch set with a single high safety. The play is designed as a run to the right, with the right guard and right tackle opening up a hole. The ball is snapped, and Wilson turns and hands off to Michael. The RT is unable to hold his block on LB Vic Beasley, and Michael is forced to bounce the run to the outside. As Michael works outside, he runs right into Jarrett and LB LaRoy Reynolds. He is forced to reverse field, and shakes the tackle of Beasley while continuing to go backwards. Jarrett is in hot pursuit of Michael, having looped all the way around. Michael finally cuts back upfield, but Jarrett has gained ground on him. He reaches out with his long arms and wrestles Michael to the ground, finally ending the pay. This play demonstrates Jarrett’s hustle and aggressiveness because he refuses to give up on the play.

Another play that depicts Jarrett’s hustle is this one against the Los Angeles Rams. On this play, Rams QB Jared Goff is in the shotgun, with RB Todd Gurley flanking him to his right. There is one receiver split at the bottom, while there are three at the top of the screen. Defensively, the Falcons show a double a-gap look with 3 CBs in press and a single-high safety. On the snap, 5 players begin rushing (LB Deion Jones drops back into coverage). Goff takes the snap, and immediately throws a screen pass to WR Tavon Austin. With several blockers out in front (including TE Lance Kendricks and C Tim Barnes), Austin begins to make his way upfield. However, the offensive line flows out in front of Austin, not expecting any of the defensive linemen to catch up to the speedy Austin. Austin hesitates for a moment to allow his blocks to be set up, and this moment gives Jarrett the time he needs to explode upfield. The quick receiver begins sprinting upfield, but Jarrett is in hot pursuit. The meaty DT dives out, and wraps up Austin around the torso, bringing an end to the play. This play demonstrates Jarrett’s hustle because it shows him running down a player who is much more agile and quick than he is.

A third play that shows Jarrett’s aggressiveness is this one against the New England Patriots. On this play, the Patriots have QB Tom Brady in the shotgun with RB James White to his left. There are three receivers at the bottom, while TE Martellus Bennett lines up in a receiver stance next to the LT. On defense, the Falcons show a 4-man front, with their CBs in press (the exception being the player matched up against WR Danny Amendola in the slot). Brady takes the snap, and drops back to pass on the long-yardage down. Jarrett is assigned to rush the QB as efficiently as possible, and realizes that he can run laterally around the offensive line to get to Brady. Instead of engaging with the interior offensive linemen, he runs towards RT Marcus Cannon, and attempts to go around him. Cannon is helping out RG Shaq Mason with LB Vic Beasley, and does not notice Jarrett flying around the edge until it is too late. Cannon is able to get his hands on Jarrett, forcing him to slip momentarily. The big defensive lineman turns his hips and locates the QB. As Brady sets his feet and cocks his arm, Jarrett jumps onto his back, and throws him down to the ground, forcing a Patriots punt. This play demonstrates Jarrett’s aggressiveness because he relentlessly pursues the QB.


Offense Defense
Cameron Meredith Grady Jarrett


Submitted June 18, 2017 at 10:04AM by sssl3
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