5 Atlanta Falcons pivotal to ending seven-year playoff drought

Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout
Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
4 of 5

4. Jessie Bates

It is incredibly rare to see a safety put a team on his back and be the determining factor whether you win or lose. Yes, there have been an overwhelming amount of game-winning plays made by the league's best. However, it is hard to find a season like the one Bates just put together for the Falcons.

Any fan who made it through the entire slate understands what Bates brought to this team. Without the safety, there are at least 2-3 games Atlanta doesn't win. With their current secondary questions, the Falcons need a repeat performance.

The former Bengal was impressive in what was a wasted season for the Falcons. Can he find anything close to this level of play in 2024? The answer needs to be yes for the Atlanta defense to have a chance of being capable and supporting a run to the playoffs.

Bates finished the season with 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 11 passes defended, and 132 combined tackles. It was the best season of Jessie's career and one that deserved far more credit and attention.

The frustration and inability of Arthur Smith and Desmond Ridder overshadowed what should have been for the Falcons defender.