6 Atlanta Falcons Players Most Positively Affected By 2023 Free Agency Signings

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Grady Jarrett, Tom Brady
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DL Grady Jarrett

Key Moves that help:

  • Bringing in Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator
  • Signing David Onyemata and Calais Campbell
  • Getting TaQuon Graham back Healthy
  • Eddie Goldman coming out of retirement and back to the Falcons

Grady Jarrett has to be grinning from ear to ear with the additions this off-season. He was the only competent interior pass rusher for the Falcons in 2022 once TaQuon Graham went down with an injury. While getting Graham back should be a cause for celebration, the Falcons went out and also got David Onyemata and Calais Campbell in free agency and got Eddie Goldman to come out of retirement to join the team for the 2023 season. The Falcons are in a much better spot with their interior rush than they were in 2022 because of this.

The biggest holes from the pass rush as a whole were the lack of interior pressure and the ability to easily erase the interior guys with just single teams. Adding Onyemata and Campbell will not only increase the double-team rates for the interior guys but also add guys who can bust through a double team to get to the quarterback. ESPN's Seth Walder has a very informative chart that he posted up in regard to this. Notice where Jarrett, Campbell, and Onyemata are on the chart:

By having these three guys in Atlanta who were all double-teamed around 65 percent of the time, the Falcons will be able to free up the edges, but also increase the amount of pressure from the interior. Pass rush is all about winning one-on-one matchups while also working as a team to force the quarterback into either making a bad throw or getting taken down behind the line. New Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen understands this. It is a large part of why he was brought in. His pressure concepts emphasize using doubled interior defensive linemen to create blitzing lanes.

Nielsen also understands that in a standard four-man rush, an interior having multiple guys who can not just eat but beat double teams will cause havoc in the backfield. The Falcons haven't been able to have this kind of pass rush since the days of Grady Jackson and Rod Coleman in the middle of the defensive line. And with Onyemata, Campbell, and Graham eating more double teams, Jarrett could be in line for one of the best seasons of his career.

All stats are courtesy CFBStats.com, NFLGSIS or official team websites. RAS athleticism comparisons are courtesy Kent Lee Platte's Relative Athletic Scores.