Robert Smith carries during the regular-season finale, a 26-16 victory at Tennessee.

The next week he turned it into the night before a game speech. Because we were playing so well, we were playing a team on paper we were so much better than, he made the analogy of, Look, it’s just like an escalator. Some of those steps are a little bit slower, but they’re still important steps, and they can all trip you up. And everyone laughed.

Brian Billick: It didn’t take long [to start thinking this was a Super Bowl team]. By the time we got to about midseason and you could see the way things were going, I realized there was no defense in the National Football League that could match up with this talent. Just couldn’t.

The Falcons would love to lock up Jarrett before the start of the season. But if he plays out 2018 on his current deal—while continuing to show the same improvement he has each of his first three years—and waits to test the market, he’ll likely find that his number for 2019 and beyond is higher than what Atlanta would offer today.

What you said is true, and that has to be taken into account as well, Jarrett tells me when presented with that scenario, all while not giving any indication one way or the other that he’d accept an early offer to play out his deal. But all my focus is on this field right now, because if I don’t perform on the field nothing else matters. I’m a guy who focuses on his work and I’ll let the rest take care of itself.

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