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Falcons - Vikings snap counts: Missteps rule the day for Atlanta

The way snaps were divvied up didn’t cause this loss, but it also didn’t help put the Falcons in a position to win.

Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On one hand, hanging in there with one of the best teams in the NFC is no small feat. On the other hand, the Falcons scored nine points. That was a roller coaster ride of a Sunday.

As always, I think the snap counts from this game help to illuminate what went wrong. In this instance, the Falcons made a lot of easy, preventable mistakes, but they also made some questionable personnel choices that undermined the good work they did on defense and exacerbated their problems on offense. We take a closer look below.


Matt Ryan: 53

Jake Matthews: 53

Alex Mack: 53

Wes Schweitzer: 53

Ryan Schraeder: 53

Mohamed Sanu: 45

Ben Garland: 43

Julio Jones: 42

Devonta Freeman: 39

Austin Hooper: 34

Taylor Gabriel: 27

Levine Toilolo: 25

Tevin Coleman: 20

Derrick Coleman: 13

Justin Hardy: 11

Andy Levitre: 10

Marvin Hall: 7

Eric Saubert: 2

The snap counts tell a story of a game that seems more mismanaged the further you get away from it. Devonta Freeman only got 12 carries on a day where he wound up with 74 yards and was running extremely hard all day. On a day when Julio Jones was locked down, the Falcons somehow only found Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, and Tevin Coleman three times apiece. Taylor Gabriel was targeted multiple times with very little in the way of productive outcomes, and it’s obvious that Steve Sarkisian either A) doesn’t trust him to get open on his own or B) thinks he’s best used on an endless series of screens.

Look, the Falcons were always going to struggle in this game, particularly with Andy Levitre exiting early. But it didn’t need to be this grim, and you can point the finger almost anywhere you like on this offense and find someone worthy of blame. Execution, game planning, and simple penalties doomed them in a game they somehow kept close down to the wire despite scoring nine. They’ll very obviously need to be better against New Orleans, but the good news is that I’m sure they will be.


Keanu Neal: 66

Robert Alford: 65

Deion Jones: 62

De’Vondre Campbell: 62

Ricardo Allen: 61

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 56

Dontari Poe: 50

Grady Jarrett: 49

Vic Beasley: 49

Damontae Kazee: 37

Derrick Shelby: 31

Adrian Clayborn: 31

Brooks Reed: 25

Ahtyba Rubin: 24

Courtney Upshaw: 24

Takk McKinley: 21

Kemal Ishmael: 4

LaRoy Reynolds: 4

C.J. Goodwin: 2

Duke Riley: 2

Honestly, I had to rub my eyes on this one. Did C.J. Goodwin truly only play two snaps? If that’s the case, he slipped on one of them and lost Adam Thielen on the other, making it a truly horrific day for the converted wide receiver. It’s obvious, either way, that he’s behind Blidi Wreh-Wilson in the pecking order now, particularly after Wreh-Wilson was genuinely impressive in a huge number of snaps out there. If the Falcons choose to bring in another cornerback, it’s not necessarily a lock that Goodwin survives that transaction, especially if Keith Armstrong is comfortable with Wreh-Wilson on teams.

I didn’t understand the defensive line rotation entirely. Everybody got more snaps than Takk McKinley, who had a sack and was one of the few Falcons to almost finish with another. Derrick Shelby got close once and so did Vic Beasley, but otherwise the pass rush just didn’t get there against Case Keenum and the Vikings, and it would have been nice to see more Takk in that effort. I continue to not understand why Beasley is spending so much time in coverage when it doesn’t play to his strengths, and he predictably had his struggles staying on top of the Vikings’ running backs in this one. I’m a big Marquand Manuel booster and feel he’s done a great job--and he did a nice job juggling this secondary—but this wasn’t his best game from a personnel usage standpoint.

It’s obvious that the Falcons think they’ve figured out linebacker, but I’m not sure continuing to give Beasley extended time there and not having him rush the passer is smart. Especially against the Saints when physicality is going to be needed, I’d prefer to see Kemal Ishmael get more snaps and let Beasley, Takk, Shelby and Clayborn grab the majority of the snaps at defensive end.

Finally, give Ricardo Allen the credit he’s often denied. He played multiple positions Sunday and was pretty much terrific the entire time.

Special Teams

Kemal Ishmael: 18

LaRoy Reynolds: 16

C.J. Goodwin: 16

Derrick Coleman: 16

Duke Riley: 13

Sharrod Neasman: 13

Damontae Kazee: 13

Eric Saubert: 12

Terron Ward: 12

Matt Bosher: 11

All familiar names here. The Falcons may head into the 2018 draft with an eye on adding young players who can contribute on special teams, given the up and down performances here, but Ishmael, Saubert, Kazee, Ward, Coleman, and Reynolds are all core guys at the moment.