5 Atlanta Falcons pivotal to ending seven-year playoff drought

Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout
Atlanta Falcons OTA Offseason Workout / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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5. Grady Jarrett

If Grady Jarrett suffers an injury or his production takes a step back the defense is in trouble. We watched Jarrett's impact last season and the toll his season-ending injury took on the unit. If the Falcons are going to find a capable pass rush a large piece of the puzzle is Jarrett.

This isn't to suggest the veteran is going to be totaling impressive numbers. Rather it is pointing out the reality of what a force Jarrett is on the inside when healthy. The veteran demands attention and opens up chances for others to make plays.

Demanding double teams or breaking the pocket there is so much Grady does not showing up on your stat sheet. If Raheem Morris is going to get the most out of this defense it starts with Jarrett and Bates.

One opening up chances for others on the defensive front while the other creates turnovers and wipes away mistakes. David Onyemata is a great piece but doesn't have the potential impact of Atlanta's veteran leader. For the Falcons to return to the playoffs and have a chance, they need Grady Jarrett to stay healthy and play at the level he has for much of the last decade.