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Falcons DC Mike Nolan Is Forgetting To Play His Best Players

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The Falcons have made a lot of confusing decisions this year, starting with failing to reward good play with more on-field snaps.

Still the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, but I can't explain why.
Still the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, but I can't explain why.
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

At the top of my list of confusing lineup decisions would be Antone Smith, Prince Shembo, and Jonathan Massaquoi continuing to get frustratingly insufficient playing time. All three have easily outperformed the starters for their positions, but seem to be fighting an uphill battle for snaps. In fact, a lot of these lineup decisions are so confusing they may as well have been made by Lovie Smith.

You know two guys who will not turn into great players? Steven Jackson and Kroy Biermann. Guess who has had the most snaps of their position? Jackson and Biermann. This team makes me feel like I am taking crazy pills.

Is the team tanking? Is the coaching staff uncompromisingly stubborn with their lineups? Have these players followed Bryan Cox's daughter on Instagram?

Or is Mike Nolan just forgetting to get our most effective players playing time? That sounds like exactly what happened, when Nolan explained to ESPN's Vaughn McClure why Massaquoi was only a part-time player against the Detroit Lions.

"Not by design; more by mistake, if that's the case," Nolan said of Massaquoi's snaps going down. "Mass has done a good job so far. He's been active. You know, we have a lot of things we're working on in trying to get better.

"It's unfortunate that he got fewer, but he didn't have so few that he didn't play. I mean, he might have been 10 less than what he expected. He probably got [37] snaps, I think, in the last game. It would have been nice to for him to get 40s, but that's not a huge thing. I think more was made of the number of snaps than really is ... we would have liked to have had a few more. But that wasn't the reason we lost the game at the end, for example."

Your 2014 Atlanta Falcons. Forgetting to get their best players snaps. Refusing to play their young talent. Then believing bad decisions on the defense did not lose the game after they gave up 22 points in one half to a team missing their best offensive players.

Why is this team struggling? For one, Biermann, 0 sacks, has played nearly 75% of the defensive snaps this season, with Massaquoi, 2 sacks, earning his way to nearly 45% of the defensive snaps.

At least part of this problem is the mastermind behind the 32nd best defense in yards allowed per game forgets to play his best players.