Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said he was “not a little, but very much in disbelief” at the ruffling of the passer flag thrown at him while shooting late Sunday in the Buccaneers’ 21-15 win over the Falcons fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Jarrett’s comments about his weekly appearance at 680 The Fan in Atlanta were his first since Sunday after the game, when he said he was too emotional about the flag and the result to speak clearly about what happened.
Even days later, he’s not sure what he should have done differently.
“Just looking back on it, I’m still kind of clueless,” Jarrett said. “On what is expected of me in this situation.”
Jarrett had wrapped Brady and then rolled to the ground, pulling Brady down with him. Jarrett touched the ground first and then turned to finish the sack. Referee Jerome Boger awarded the penalty and said in a post-game pool report that Jarrett knocked Brady “unnecessarily” to the ground.
The NFL had no further comment on the game when reached by ESPN on Monday. But citing a league source, The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the NFL plans to increase penalties for passers-by, though changes to the rule aren’t expected during the season.
Teams can submit games to the league for questions each week, and the NFL reviews each game after the game and evaluates officials weekly on their performance in games.
Jarrett said Tuesday he thought it would be “a great move” for the NFL to consider in-game reviews to gross out passers’ penalty calls. It was brought further into focus Monday night when Kansas City defenseman Chris Jones was flagged for roughing up the passer while firing Derek Carr for a similar play to Jarrett’s.
Had Jarrett not been tagged, Atlanta would have forced a fourth hit and got the ball back with just under three minutes left.
“I saw Chris’ sack last night and that was questionable too,” Jarrett said. “All these other things that we can check, I’m not saying it cost us the game, but it cost us an opportunity to win the game and if it costs people’s games, it will cost people’s livelihoods people cost. It’s gonna cost people’s options You never know who goes down and makes a crazy game.
“Of course it has happened to us, the Falcons, but forget all that, this is about the sport. When people are watching us to be entertained, to see some game winning rides and then when you do it right, in the right way, that makes it so frustrating because you’re sticking to the rules and have done nothing bad. So let’s give the game what the game deserves and that’s the best product we can bring to the pitch.”
Jarrett acknowledged that at full speed it could be difficult to discern intent and see what’s happening – another reason he’d want to see a review.
He also said he’s all for protecting quarterbacks. Jarrett understands her value not only to her teams, but in many cases as leaders of franchises and sometimes cities. He says he doesn’t advocate urging passers-by to walk away just for help with labeling.
“Nobody wants to go in there and DDT, RKO and hurt people,” Jarrett said, referring to pro wrestling moves. “But if you do it right, I don’t think you should be punished for it.”
“So it’s very, very emotional and we just don’t want it to go down like that, you know what I’m saying? Hopefully something can come of this and something can happen.”
Jarrett also addressed briefly that he appeared to have been kicked by Brady on Sunday – something that television cameras recorded but was not flagged – and said he spoke to officers about it and said he told the officer, “Look, you see him now. Let’s clean it up.’ You know what I mean? And then it happened again at the end of the game. I guess we’ll let this slide?”
Jarrett said the rule changes on where players can get hit in tackles changed his thought process in regards to his tackles, and it’s something “you literally have to think about when approaching the quarterback.”
He doesn’t think it would be fair to change offenses when a sack is called — there are too many dynamic quarterbacks in the league who can break tackles — but there has to be a way to bring down quarterbacks, too, said he.
In his opinion, a review could start here.
“If there’s going to be a different rule for different players, and that might be the case, then I feel like you’re checking some things,” Jarrett said. “Then maybe you’re making judgments about intentions and certain things and that can be part of the game because it just gets to the point where it’s about games and extra unearned downs and things like that.”
The flag cost the Falcons a chance to beat the Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South. Had the Falcons won, Atlanta would have been over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2017 season.
“What hurt me the most was not giving my team the opportunity to do what we need to do, you know,” Jarrett said. “Like I said, no one knows if we’re going to go out there and get a touchdown. I’m not saying we lost the game.
“I’m saying all we wanted was an opportunity that we deserved as a whole team, people and organization in that moment, you know. It’s unfortunate that it had to go down like that.”