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This Falcons DL will be a problem for Chicago Bears interior

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The Chicago Bears interior offensive line has played well, but they have not seen a test like Grady Jarrett yet

One of the biggest developments in the Chicago Bears 2-0 start in the impact of their interior offensive line. Germain Ifedi coming in and taking over for Rashaad Coward has been a major upgrade, and James Daniels staying at left guard this season has had an impact as well. Beyond that, the team is more committed to the run, and their new run scheme.

On one hand, you have to applaud these two. On the other, it is fair to note the Detroit Lions pass rush has been bad under Matt Patricia, and the New York Giants have some young talent, but nothing elite.

The Atlanta Falcons defensive line is not much better overall, but from a matchup standpoint, there is one player who stands to have a strong day. Grady Jarrett flies under the radar for some but is an elite interior lineman for others.

He plays with a low center of gravity and physical hand usage to get into the backfield. His play over the past two weeks has been reminiscent of Akiem Hicks. Do not believe me, here are their stats over the past three years?

Totals Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Fumb Fumb
Rk Player AV G Solo Ast QBHits TFL Sk FF FR
1 Akiem Hicks 16 23 56 17 23 15 10.5 3 1
2 Grady Jarrett 18 32 68 63 35 21 15.0 5 1

So far this season Jarrett has seven pressures, and two sacks, Hicks has six pressures and two sacks. According to PFF, Jarrett has a 6.3 pass-rush productivity rating, and Hicks has a 5.8.

This is not to tear down Hicks but highlight the type of player Jarrett is. Like a younger Hicks, he is being overshadowed by the rest of the defense not living up to his skill.

Beyond that, he has been dominant in the run. The play below does not show up in any stat sheet, but it turned a simple run play into a loss for Dallas as Jarrett redirects Ezekiel Elliott to the outside after manhandling Connor Williams.

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Williams is not an elite guard but has profiled similarly to James Daniels in the NFL ups and downs as a young player. Daniels has had two games without huge errors, but when Dexter Lawrence challenged him with power, he still has his issues. Daniels has mainly been able to excel due to the new scheme. However, Jarrett is a player who can blow up lateral plays, but also play sideline to sideline as well. This is what puts him in that elite interior lineman category.

What also makes Jarrett dangerous is that he will be testing Daniels and Ifedi in this game. According to PFF, he has lined up over the right guard on 36% of his snaps, and the left guard on 48%. He even has 16 snaps, or 9% of his snaps against tackles, both right and left. Still, that means that Daniels will see him the most, and Ifedi will get a heavy dose as well.

Next: Mitch Trubisky week 2 advanced stats review

Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence are great players, but both were the appetizer for Grady Jarett who brings a four-course meal of destruction. We will have a much stronger learning point on the upside of this duo after Sunday.

NFL Football

Atlanta Falcons prediction: Can the birds get their first win of the year?

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The Atlanta Falcons are back in action for the first time since firing Dan Quinn.

At 1-4 the Minnesota Vikings aren’t much better than the 0-5 Atlanta Falcons. This has all the makings of a really bad pillow fight among two teams that had Super Bowl hopes coming into 2020.

This will be the fifth time that these two teams have met over the last seven NFL seasons, the Falcons are 0-4 in the previous four meetings. The Falcons last win against the Vikings came in 2011 when Matt Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns.

Here is how the staff at Blogging Dirty thinks the game turns out.

Jeff Benedict – Site Expert

When these two teams met last season, I was shocked at how bad the Atlanta Falcons had looked. Minnesota jumped out 28-0 and never looked back.

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook evolved into one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league and while he was able to rush for 111 yards, he didn’t embarrass the Falcons like he did other teams across the league.

He will be out Sunday, which is a big advantage for the Falcons.

This Vikings team is much different on the defensive side than they were a year ago and I think the Falcons will be able to take advantage of that.

I think Raheem Morris starts his Falcons coaching career with a win.

Joe Beasley – Contributor

I expect the Falcons to play with some type of fire. If interim head coach Raheem Morris wants a shot at this job or any other head coaching gig, he has to show he can somewhat fix this mess in Atlanta.

The offense does get Julio Jones back which is good for everyone except a young Vikings secondary. Add that to the fact that Dalvin Cook isn’t playing and you have a perfect storm for the Falcons to get their first win.

Besides, I’m bound to get one of these right.

Justin Churchill – Contributor

Last week the Vikings were close to beating the Seahawks. They have a very good offense but may struggle without Dalvin Cook in the backfield.

Their defense will give up a lot, hopefully allowing Todd Gurley to get back into a groove. However,  I think the Vikings will win this one.

Ross Terrell – Contributor

It’s officially a new era in Atlanta. Maybe just maybe Raheem Morris was gunning for this job the whole time. So he sabotaged Quinn to get his shot as head coach. Or maybe the Falcons downward spiral will continue.

Let’s hope the latter isn’t true and the Atlanta Falcons finally pull themselves off the mat.

Next: Falcons have a chance to get out of sports purgatory

Ethan Johnson – Contributor

The Atlanta Falcons will not win this game. The team may come out inspired and rejuvenated, or heartbroken because their coach is gone.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter because they haven’t beaten the Minnesota Vikings since 2011, and that streak won’t end Sunday.

 

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NFL Football

Buffalo Bills: 4 defensive tackles to consider trading for this season

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Buffalo Bills

Sep 22, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) jogs off the field following his sack of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (not pictured) during the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

These are four defensive tackles the Buffalo Bills should consider trying to trade for before the trade deadline.

The defensive line for the Buffalo Bills went through a significant change this past offseason. They saw free agents Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson leave in free agency but the front office replaced them with Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, and Mario Addison as well as selecting A.J. Epenesa in the second round.

In addition to those offseason moves, the Bills had last year’s starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei elect to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns around the pandemic.

After six games, it is clear that the changes have caused this defense to take a step backward stopping the run and the front office may need to look outside the organization on how to correct this.

The focus for general manager Brandon Beane should be to look for someone similar to Lotulelei in terms of a zero tech defensive tackle that can eat up space and take on multiple defenders. This will help force running backs into fewer lanes but also free up Tremaine Edmunds and the rest of the second and third-level defenders clear running lanes to get to the ball carrier.

These are four defensive tackles that could be available for a trade that makes sense for the Buffalo Bills.

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4 tight ends the Carolina Panthers should target in the 2021 NFL Draft

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Carolina Panthers

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Ian Thomas

Which college prospects are emerging as early draft candidates for the Carolina Panthers at the tight end position?

The Carolina Panthers clearly have a need at the tight end spot which needs to be addressed next spring. They are getting next to no production from either Ian Thomas or Chris Manhertz through six games of the 2020 season and this is a stark contrast to what the team got from prolific veteran Greg Olsen for so many years.

It’s hard to deny that this isn’t what the Carolina Panthers expected coming into the season. They had high hopes for Thomas to step up and fill the void left by the Pro Bowler, who opted for one more shot at a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks before inevitably taking up a broadcast position next year.

Thomas hasn’t lived up to his billing this season. He has accumulated just six receptions, 39 receiving yards, and one touchdown from 11 targets, which simply isn’t good enough if the former Indiana standout wants to make a real go of things from a starting role.

Although all hope isn’t lost, he is clearly skating on thin ice.

There were fewer expectations on the shoulders of Manhertz. The veteran is seen as more of a blocking tight end and has aided the Panthers in this area. This has been of particular use to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Mike Davis, depending on what play is called by Joe Brady.

If things continue as they are then this might be priority No.1 for the Panthers once the dust has settled on the 2020 season. Whether they bring in a veteran during the free agency period is up for debate, but there are plenty of exciting tight end prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft that will also warrant consideration during the evaluation process.

Let’s take a look at four players at the position who could come into Carolina and potentially make a big impression.

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