Q&A with Falcons defensive end Tyson Jackson

Falcons defensive Tyson Jackson, who was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, signed a five-year, $25 million contract after becoming an unrestricted free agent. A total of $11 million of the contract is guaranteed.

Jackson, a former LSU Tiger, is expected to help improve the Falcons' run defense.

Here’s a Q&A with Jackson from earlier today:

Q: What was your perception of the Falcons?

A: I really wasn’t that focused on the Falcons last year because I was doing my own thing with Kansas City. The one thing that is certain about the NFL is that guys will get injured and that can take a toll on a season, I don’t care who it is. I can’t really comment on what happened last year with the Falcons. I can comment on that this year we’re going to improve. We’re going to be much better. We are going to be one of the teams that a lot of people don’t want to face.

Q: What was your role in Kansas City’s defense?

A: As far as the 3-4 back in Kansas City, I got started with that back in 2009. I had to understand how to two gap and play within the 3-4 defense. I had to understand what the defensive end’s role in that defense. Once I understood it, it took me a year or two to grasp that, then I felt like I perfected it and became one of the better defensive ends in the league in the 3-4 defense.

Q: Will the Falcons be able to turn things around like the Chiefs did last year?

A: It’s a new start. All 32 teams in our league will have the same goal. Everyone is going to be pushing for that Super Bowl. That’s the step that we are going to take. We are going to first take care of the NFC South. We are going to take care of our business there and we’re going to make a push in the playoffs and be a contender for the Super Bowl. That’s our plan.

Q: Have you thought about facing (New Orleans quarterback) Drew Brees and (Carolina quarterback) Cam Newton twice a year?

A: They are two talented quarterbacks. They are two different type of quarterbacks and they are both great in their own different ways. It’s going to be a challenge. Once we get together as a team, we’re going to come up with a great answer and come up with a great game plan for those guys.

Q: Why did you pick the Falcons?

A: I thought it was the best situation for me at the time. I had a few teams that were interested, but just looking at Atlanta and what they’ve been doing in the past and how high quality that they’ve been, I thought I could be a good addition to the team and help bring them a step closer to getting the ultimate goal.

Q: What other teams were interested in your services?

A: I got some words from the Dolphins, the Cleveland Browns and the Redskins. But ultimately I feel like I choose the best team. I’m sticking by my decision and I’m proud of it.

Q: Is it important to have a team with a defensive identity?

A: I think Seattle proved one thing in the Super Bowl, you need a defense in this league. No matter what the offenses are doing these days. There’s the option coming in, there is the read-zones and a lot of passing attacks and some teams are still doing it with traditional two-back sets, but no matter what, you still need a good defense out there to stop those guys. It’s simple. You have to stop the run in order to get after the quarterback. We are going to start taking care of that first and we are going to see what happens from there.

Q: How do you define toughness?

A: I think you define toughness as something that is constant. You don’t bend no matter what happens. As a group. That’s one of my favorite quotes, strike iron with iron. I think that’s the definition of toughness.

Q: How difficult was it for the Chiefs to deal with teammate Jevon Belcher killing himself in 2011?

A: It was just a sad situation. I’d just rather not talk about that. That’s just two grieving families right now.

Q: What’s your impression of Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox?

A: I just know Bryan from seeing him with other teams in the past. I knew him as a player and know that he played in the NFL for a long time. He’s been coaching for a long time. He’s worked with a lot of great players in the league and I’m looking forward to working with him. I’m pretty sure that he can help my game a whole lot with the insight that he has just from coaching for so many years. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m looking forward to working with him.

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.