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Snap counts and notes for Falcons - Cowboys: The weapons get involved

The Falcons are starting to make better use of their quality players on offense.

Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Dallas game was such a joyous one that it was easy to focus on the big picture and miss the details. I didn’t want the snap counts for this game to pass by without comment, however, because I think they illustrate a couple of interesting trends.

On the offensive side of the ball, it’s the team’s sudden insistence on getting its weapons more involved and doing creative things that bears mentioning. No longer is Taylor Gabriel pulling down 75% of the offensive snaps with few targets, as the team has lessened his snap load and made better use of him over the last couple of weeks. Justin Hardy and Marvin Hall, meanwhile, have gotten a little more run, with Hardy coming up with a nice back-of-the-endzone touchdown grab Sunday.

Defensively, the team appears to have settled on its de facto starting defensive ends at last, though they retain a deep rotation. Let’s take a look at that and some other notes, below.


Matt Ryan: 65

Jake Matthews: 65

Alex Mack: 65

Wes Schweitzer: 65

Ryan Schraeder: 65

Andy Levitre: 59

Austin Hooper: 54

Mohamed Sanu: 48

Tevin Coleman: 44

Julio Jones: 43

Levine Toilolo: 30

Taylor Gabriel: 27

Justin Hardy: 21

Marvin Hall: 18

Derrick Coleman: 15

Ben Garland: 9

Dontari Poe: 3

Devonta Freeman: 2

The Falcons are simply getting their receiving options involved more, most notably Taylor Gabriel and Justin Hardy. Earlier in the season, you might not have seen Hardy and Hall at all, while Gabriel would have gotten a ton of snaps and not many useful targets. Steve Sarkisian and company are divvying up those snaps more evenly now, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Gabriel’s coming on a bit, and Hardy and Hall are finding some open looks.

Of course, the real highlight here is that the Falcons are getting Dontari Poe involved on the goal line, which means there’s a real chance of him throwing a touchdown pass at some point this year. Be still, my heart.


Robert Alford: 63

Ricardo Allen: 63

Keanu Neal: 63

De’Vondre Campbell: 61

Deion Jones: 59

Desmond Trufant: 56

Brian Poole: 56

Grady Jarrett: 47

Adrian Clayborn: 41

Vic Beasley: 34

Takkarist McKinley: 27

Brooks Reed: 19

Derrick Shelby: 18

Courtney Upshaw: 18

Ahtyba Rubin: 12

Kemal Ishmael: 4

Sean Weatherspoon: 4

C.J. Goodwin: 4

The defensive tackle rotation is going to vary on a weekly basis, of course, but I do think that Clayborn and Takk have settled in as the two de facto starting ends. Clayborn is a durable, rugged defender fresh off a six sack game, McKinley is a quietly terrific young end with a good all-around game, and Vic Beasley is now earning some time at linebacker to ease the logjam. That leaves the Falcons with Brooks Reed and Derrick Shelby as their primary rotational ends, which is a great situation to have.

Otherwise, there are very surprises here. The Falcons managed to actually get ‘Spoon and Goodwin on the field, which I guess is noteworthy, but they’re winning thanks to their excellent and durable secondary, and improving performances from the front seven. It’s not rocket science, but Marquand Manuel is still doing a nice jog juggling snaps here.

Special Teams

Kemal Ishmael: 15

C.J. Goodwin: 14

Terron Ward: 13

Derrick Coleman: 13

Matt Bosher: 13

Damontae Kazee: 13

Eric Saubert: 13

LaRoy Reynolds: 13

Justin Hardy: 11

Robert Alford: 10

I continue to be impressed by Robert Alford’s ability to play 100% of the defensive snaps and 66% of the special teams snaps. That’s great hustle.

Otherwise, this is the same crew you’ve come to expect here, with rookies Kazee and Saubert bolstering their long-term cases for roster spots, while Ishmael, Goodwin, Reynolds and Coleman continue to be core players for Keith Armstrong’s unit.