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Falcons snap counts and notes for a Week 6 loss to the Saints

Exploring how many snaps each Falcons player got, and what those snaps illuminate about the team's weak performance on Thursday Night Football.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports


Chris Chester: 73 (100%)
Ryan Schraeder: 73
Jake Matthews: 73
James Stone: 73
Andy Levitre: 73
Matt Ryan: 73
Julio Jones: 68
Devonta Freeman: 63
Roddy White: 60
Leonard Hankerson: 54
Jacob Tamme: 53
Patrick DiMarco: 23
Levine Toilolo: 19
Nick Williams: 7
Tevin Coleman: 7
Tony Moeaki: 6
Terron Ward: 5

This game belonged to the starters, and that's what makes this even less pretty. The Falcons' top three receivers and Jacob Tamme struggled to get open and make an impact throughout the game, the starting line (minus Mike Person and plus James Stone, who had an uneven game filled with bad snaps) had a rough game in pass protection, and only Devonta Freeman and the run blocking truly excelled. It was a recipe for a middling effort, and that's exactly what the Falcons got.

I don't know what the solution is at wide receiver, but the Falcons are hurting when Julio Jones isn't open right now. Leonard Hankerson had more ugly drops, Roddy White was more involved and had a pretty touchdown catch but is still struggling to get open early in his routes, and there's no obvious candidate to step up on the roster. The Falcons need to get more out of the duo, and it may (yes, finally) be time to consider getting Justin Hardy active and see if he can contribute to the offense. You obviously can't bench Matt Ryan, either, but getting the protection back on track and dialing up some checkdowns to get him out of pressure's way would help.

Tevin Coleman was rolling on his limited carries last night, but the pace of the game, Devonta Freeman's continued excellence, and his costly fumble conspired to give him just 7 snaps all game. The Falcons will hope Mike Person's back next week, and that they can get the fumbles to die down.


Paul Worrilow: 72 (100%)
Desmond Trufant: 69
Robert Alford: 69
William Moore: 69
Kroy Biermann: 43
Ricardo Allen: 43
Joplo Bartu: 39
Tyson Jackson: 39
Paul Soliai: 39
Brooks Reed: 39
Ra'Shede Hageman: 36
Phillip Adams: 33
Jonathan Babineaux: 33
Vic Beasley: 31
Robenson Therezie: 29
Adrian Clayborn: 29
O'Brien Schofield: 28
Nate Stupar: 22
Kemal Ishmael: 17
Grady Jarrett: 13

There's a lot to unpack here. The Falcons elected to go with a beefier defensive front on a season-high number of snaps against the Saints, with Ra'Shede Hageman, Tyson Jackson, and Paul Soliai getting close to 40 snaps each, and Kroy Biermann getting over 40. The result was a largely dominant effort against the run—the Saints ran the ball 32 times for 81 yards, or well under 3 yards per carry—but a pretty weak pass rushing effort overall. The Saints got rid of the ball quickly, which hurts, but the Falcons were only able to execute one half of their defensive gameplan effectively.

The other half, of course, was doomed in large part by Drew Brees' ability to quickly find Ben Watson, Willie Snead, and Brandin Cooks for large chunks of yardage. Trotting out Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow, and Brooks Reed at linebacker was not going to be a recipe for coverage success, so the Falcons did mix Kemal Ishmael and Robenson Therezie in coverage, with distinctly weak results. The Falcons have a troubling inability to shut down the middle of the field and take away the easy routes, and for a quarterback as good as Drew Brees, that's a recipe for disaster. Worrilow's the easy target here because he's in every snap of every game, but I remain convinced the team has to find an alternative to leaving him in to cover tight ends and running backs on third down, because it simply has never worked. He's working his ass off to improve, but it's incumbent on the team to utilize their players better. For their parts, Bartu and Reed couldn't muster up much help, either, and this looks like it'll be a persistent weakness for the Falcons in 2015.

Brees has always been capable under pressure, so I understand the Falcons not emphasizing the lighter front in this game, especially considering the Saints never really abandoned the run. But even with 30-plus snaps, Vic Beasley, Jonathan Babineaux and company just couldn't get there enough to disrupt Brees' timing, anyways.

I need to re-watch the game to more fully understand the defensive gameplan here, but it's pretty obvious the Falcons felt they needed to shut down the run and let their secondary work against Brees. The fact that the Saints circumnavigated that by having Brees largely avoid the cornerbacks and feed Watson is unnerving.

Special Teams

Nate Stupar: 25
Kemal Ishmael: 25
Kroy Biermann: 24
Eric Weems: 18
Allen Bradford: 17
Patrick DiMarco: 15
Desmond Trufant: 14
Robert Alford: 14
Jalen Collins: 13
Joplo Bartu: 13
Ricardo Allen: 12
Levine Toilolo: 11
Matt Bosher: 11
Robenson Therezie: 11
Tyson Jackson: 10
Paul Worrilow: 8
Ra'Shede Hageman: 7
Josh Harris: 7
Adrian Clayborn: 7
Tony Moeaki: 6
Grady Jarrett: 6
Phillip Adams: 6
Terron Ward: 5
Nick Williams: 5
Chris Chester: 3
Andy Levitre: 3
Ryan Schraeder: 3
Jake Matthews: 3
Paul Soliai: 3
Matt Bryant: 3

The coverage units fared well, as per usual, but the lack of blocking on the blocked Matt Bosher punt was terrible. I plan to launch a full Congressional inquiry to determine who was at fault there.

No surprises here, really. Eric Weems and Allen Bradford have effectively become full-time special teamers who don't even have a small role on the defensive side, and they're valuable enough there to stay on the roster if the team is healthy. They will likely be among the first considerations if the Falcons decide to make changes to the roster, however.