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Atlanta Falcons snap counts and notes to Week 9

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Let's sift through the wreckage, see who got playing time, and then start pointing fingers wildly.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

Chris Chester: 64 (100%)
Ryan Schraeder: 64
Mike Person: 64
Jake Matthews: 64
Andy Levitre: 64
Matt Ryan: 64
Jacob Tamme: 61
Julio Jones: 61
Devonta Freeman: 56
Roddy White: 55
Justin Hardy: 42
Nick Williams: 18
Levine Toilolo: 10
Patrick DiMarco: 9
Terron Ward: 4
Tevin Coleman: 4

There are several questions worth asking here. If Roddy White can't get open and is basically just blocking and running routes to take heat off of other players, why is he in the game for 55 snaps or more week after week? As reader brakerbaker wrote yesterday in a comment, it's easy to kind of ignore that when things are going well (and I'm very guilty of that), but with the passing game struggling so mightily, you've either got to start looking Roddy's way or consider getting him off the field in favor of a receiver you believe can contribute.

Levine Toilolo is nobody's idea of a great player and has never shown a ton of red zone acumen, but he remains the tallest dude on the roster, and putting him and Julio Jones on the field at the same time when you're inside the 20 at least forces the defense to consider what will happen if Matt Ryan throws a jump ball. Toilolo's almost never a factor in those packages, however.

Finally, I cannot understand how Tevin Coleman got just four snaps and one carry on a day where Devonta Freeman was completely bottled up. That's not a knock on Freeman so much as it is an acknowledgement of the reality that he's best when there's a hole for him to run through, get a head of steam, and put his devastating open field moves and churning legs into action. Coleman has the kind of game-breaking speed that could have given the 49ers defense an entirely different look, and I'm baffled he didn't get more touches, especially where the game was so close throughout.

I'm not ready to call for Kyle Shanahan's head just yet, especially because I do believe he has been working with an out of sync passing game without the options many anticipated Matt Ryan would have. But he's got to do a better job of spreading the ball around, he's got to be more willing to shake things up in short yardage, and he really has to figure out what he wants to do with Roddy White, especially with Leonard Hankerson likely returning in Week 11.

Defense

Ricardo Allen: 66 (100%)
Paul Worrilow: 66
Desmond Trufant: 65
Kemal Ishmael: 64
Jalen Collins: 63
Philip Wheeler: 48
Brooks Reed: 44
Kroy Biermann: 38
Ra'Shede Hageman: 34
Jonathan Babineaux: 33
Tyson Jackson: 32
Paul Soliai: 31
Adrian Clayborn: 28
Vic Beasley: 28
Nate Stupar: 23
Grady Jarrett: 23
O'Brien Schofield: 18
Phillip Adams: 18
Akeem King: 2
Robenson Therezie: 2

For me, the Falcons' defensive struggles were summed up in a Paul Worrilow pass rush yesterday. He blew through the line, harried Blaine Gabbert for yards...and couldn't catch up with him, allowing Gabbert to roll out and connect on a pass over the middle for a nice pickup. The defense has improved a ton this year and always seems to be close, but the pass rush and to a lesser extent the coverage is frequently just a step away from a big play.

I do believe the coaching staff when they say Worrilow is getting better every week, but he and his cohorts at linebacker simply don't have the speed to close in coverage or as pass rushers, and it was another forgettable game for everyone except perhaps Philip Wheeler, who stepped into a big role and played pretty decently. Kemal Ishmael is a big hitter and a true asset in run support, but he, too, can't close in. The need for plus athletes is pretty stark.

Jalen Collins had put together back-to-back strong weeks before this dud, and Torrey Smith had a nice game. I'm not going to say it's an excusable performance, because Collins looked out of his depth multiple times, but I still think he's a growing young corner with the skillset to start in this defense. We'll hope he bounces back after the bye.

The Falcons continue to be incredibly stout in the middle of the line, largely bottling up an admittedly anemic 49ers ground assault once more. Soliai, in particular, has played terrific football all season long. The problem yesterday was that Blaine Gabbert kept escaping to the edge and picking up nice gains through scrambling, which was incredibly depressing.

Finally, it was fair to wonder whether Robenson Therezie might see a larger role with William Moore out, particularly after some of the nice plays he's made, but he remains down in the pecking order for the moment. At least Grady Jarrett got more snaps.

Special Teams

Nate Stupar: 25
Kroy Biermann: 24
Eric Weems: 22
Levine Toilolo: 17
Patrick DiMarco: 17
Philip Wheeler: 17
Matt Bosher: 17
Terron Ward: 14
Charles Godfrey: 14
Tevin Coleman: 13
Josh Harris: 12
Justin Hardy: 12
Kemal Ishmael: 11
Akeem King: 10
Nick Williams: 9
Ricardo Allen: 8
O'Brien Schofield: 8
Jalen Collins: 7
Phillip Adams: 7
Tyson Jackson: 6
Grady Jarrett: 5
Chris Chester: 4
Andy Levitre: 4
Jake Matthews: 4
Ryan Schraeder: 4
Joplo Bartu: 4
Matt Bryant: 4
Tony Moeaki: 4
Paul Worrilow: 3
Paul Soliai: 3
Adrian Clayborn: 3
Ra'Shede Hageman: 3
Robenson Therezie: 1
Gino Gradkowski: 1

Akeem King is stepping right into a special teams role, but I was surprised to see Robenson Therezie buried on both defense and special teams this week. (EDIT: He had an injury, which I somehow missed. Duh.) The team seemingly prefers the immortal Charles Godfrey on the unit, and he's done pretty good work.

One note of concern this week: Bruce Ellington had some nice returns against Atlanta, nicer than we're accustomed to. Hope that's just a blip on the radar.