The heart of the Atlanta Falcons defense was not former second-team All-Pro Grady Jarrett; instead, the heart was Foye Oluokun.
A mixed bag of 2021 results for the defense for the Falcons resulted in the unit finishing last in the NFL in sacks. In addition, they were also in the bottom third in terms of run defense.
Despite those lows, the Falcons fourth-year linebacker had a season to remember.
Oluokun finished first in the league with 192 combined tackles in 17 games played. Foye brought down opposing ball carriers on an average of 11.72 times each week.
Moreover, he made additional history by having the seventh-most combined tackles in any NFL season. He joins former franchise great Jessie Tuggle, who has four out of the top 10 slots for most tackles in a season.
The sixth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft undoubtedly made a lasting impression on coach Arthur Smith.
In addition, he also shined from the second level of the defense by being tied for the team lead in interceptions with fellow teammate A.J. Terrell who also had three.
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At the linebacker position, his three interceptions were third-best in the NFL, only behind the Indianapolis Colts' Darius Leonard and the Cincinnati Bengals' Logan Wilson, who each had four.
For the Falcons, they will have a decision to make this offseason regarding Foye's contract.
As of now, he is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
After the season finale, he remained optimistic about playing for a winning football team next season.
"I don't wanna just go where they offer me money, and I'm not gonna be successful in the system. I wanna go where I can be successful, and we can go win games."
Only time will tell whether or not that is a hint towards his inclination to go to another team. One thing is for sure: the Falcons would lose one of their best playmakers in 2021 if he were to sign elsewhere.