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Falcons snap counts from the Saints loss, with some venting thrown in

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The Falcons didn’t win this one, and the snap counts don’t really help to tell the story of why.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saint Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Aside from a post-season postmortem, I’m hoping this is the last article you’ll see me write about the Falcons-Saints game over the weekend. They genuinely tried to ruin Christmas Eve by losing so badly to their biggest rival, so I am not in the mood to spend a lot of time sifting through that particular wreckage.

That said, tradition is tradition, so let’s talk some snap counts.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 59

Jake Matthews: 59

Ben Garland: 59

Alex Mack: 59

Wes Schweitzer: 59

Ryan Schraeder: 59

Mohamed Sanu: 57

Julio Jones: 54

Devonta Freeman: 43

Taylor Gabriel: 32

Tevin Coleman: 21

Justin Hardy: 21

Derrick Coleman: 15

Levine Toilolo: 13

Marvin Hall: 7

Ty Sambrailo: 1


I’m not going to tell you the Falcons played a perfect game on offense or that Steve Sarkisian called a brilliant one, but I will tell you that most of the team’s problems on Sunday came down to execution. When you have multiple drops or missed opportunities for catches, a bad fumble, poor goal line plays, and your offense just looks like a muddled mess, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

The only note in the snap counts that bears pointing out is that the Falcons looked pretty damned inept running the football without Levine Toilolo, of all people. The line got pushed around a bit and Ben Garland had his Waterloo game, especially compared to his first two efforts as a starter, but Toilolo is a glue guy and I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest his blocking was missed Sunday.

Defense

Robert Alford: 65

Keanu Neal: 65

Deion Jones: 65

Ricardo Allen: 65

Desmond Trufant: 65

De’Vondre Campbell: 59

Dontari Poe: 54

Grady Jarrett: 49

Brian Poole: 44

Brooks Reed: 29

Adrian Clayborn: 28

Derrick Shelby: 25

Vic Beasley: 21

Ahtyba Rubin: 17

Courtney Upshaw: 15

Duke Riley: 11

Kemal Ishmael: 11

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 5


You don’t have to squint to see that the Falcons went heavier in their defensive line rotation, eschewing big snaps for Vic Beasley at defensive end and linebacker for the likes of Brooks Reed, Derrick Shelby, and Courtney Upshaw at DE, and Kemal Ishmael at LB. Beasley played a great game on those limited snaps, but the run defense was also generally very stout, so I don’t think this was the worst decision for this particular matchup.

The most impactful players, for better or worse, were those who dominated the snaps. Robert Alford and particularly Desmond Trufant saw themselves crisped at least once each, while Keanu Neal was the team’s big hitter and made some beautiful tackles Sunday. Deion Jones picked off Drew Brees again.

Much like the offense, there really aren’t any objectionable notes here in terms of how the defense was deployed. They just were killed by those small handful of broken plays where a lapse in coverage or a missed tackle allowed the Saints to do more than they should have been able to.

Special Teams

Duke Riley: 26

Kemal Ishmael: 26

LaRoy Reynolds: 21

Damontae Kazee: 21

Derrick Coleman: 21

Sharrod Neasman: 20

Terron Ward: 18

Marvin Hall: 14

Justin Hardy: 13

Andre Roberts: 12

Matt Bosher: 12


If the Falcons are going to scapegoat someone for this season, when the dust finally settles, I’ve come around to the idea that it may be Keith Armstrong. It’s unfortunate, given Armstrong’s years of excellent coaching for Atlanta, but his special teams unit has been consistently mediocre this year outside of Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, and Derrick Coleman, and that may be enough.

Even when the Falcons do a decent job of bottling up opposing returners, as they did Sunday, they aren’t doing a great job of blocking for Andre Roberts. The veteran’s insistence on taking the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs, despite the fact that simply taking a knee would give the Falcons the ball from the 25, is one of the many little frustrations I’ve had with this team all year long, especially since they’ve had one of the worst starting field positions in the NFL. At the end of the day, that will be laid at the feet of Armstrong.