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Falcons vs. Bengals: Snap counts to help us point fingers angrily

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That’s what we like to do after losses, isn’t it?

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Falcons got plenty of snaps on Sunday. Some players rose to the occasion and others faltered, and we’re going to take a bit of a closer look at the counts and how they impacted the game right here.

Offense

Jake Matthews: 70

Wes Schweitzer: 70

Alex Mack: 70

Brandon Fusco: 70

Ryan Schraeder: 70

Matt Ryan: 70

Austin Hooper: 57

Mohamed Sanu: 55

Julio Jones: 54

Tevin Coleman: 40

Calvin Ridley: 38

Ito Smith: 30

Logan Paulsen: 29

Marvin Hall: 16

Justin Hardy: 14

Ricky Ortiz: 12

Eric Saubert: 4

Russell Gage: 1


I leveled some criticism at the offensive line for a couple of miscues—mostly Fusco’s penalties and some failures to hold the Bengals back on obvious passing situations—but they’re still enabling this offense to do some good things. They were better in run blocking situations this week, while Ortiz chipped in his best game of the year, the team’s receiving options did their jobs in that regard, and Ito Smith turned in a nice game in pass protection. Miscues aside, you have to tip your cap, especially after the disappointing showing against the Saints.

The biggest surprise might have been seeing Ito get nearly as many snaps as Coleman, the lead back. Smith has been stellar in his limited playing time to this point, and his role will keep expanding until Devonta Freeman returns and/or he cools down. At the very least, the Falcons have to feel great about their running back depth at the moment.

Otherwise, it might be worth noting that Marvin Hall is slowing working his way by Justin Hardy, which makes sense given the former’s production thus far in 2018. Neither guy is going to get a ton of run with these top three receiving options, but both are useful players.

Overall, the offense was good-to-stellar, and there shouldn’t be any sweeping changes in the near future to the way they’re being deployed.

Defense

Robert Alford: 73

Damontae Kazee: 73

Desmond Trufant: 71

De’Vondre Campbell: 64

Isaiah Oliver: 63

Vic Beasley: 56

Brian Poole: 56

Duke Riley: 55

Takkarist McKinley: 49

Jack Crawford: 45

Grady Jarrett: 37

Deadrin Senat: 30

Terrell McClain: 29

Brooks Reed: 27

Foye Oluokun: 23

Jordan Richards: 19

Steven Means: 18

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 15


The Falcons tried some different things in this game. They tried Trufant working out of the slot, they tried Poole at safety, they tried Isaiah Oliver period, and they tried moving Takk inside. The results were a decidedly mixed bag, but you have to give the team credit for trying to find a better way forward with what they’ve got. It’s just that the result were so catastrophic in the secondary it’s hard to feel good about it at all.

Pro Football Focus is not the end all, be all, but they ranked Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford as the team’s two worst defenders on Sunday, and I don’t think many would quibble with that. Both were penalized, both found themselves out of position, and both made costly (and I would argue uncharacteristic) errors in coverage. Add in Oliver’s growing pains at cornerback and Poole’s shaky adjustment to safety play and perhaps it’s not surprising the Falcons looked awful against the pass two days ago.

They did achieve a fleeting measure of success in the third and early fourth quarter, in part because the front four started to get home. This was one of the better games of the year for the defensive line, with rookie Deadrin Senat showing well, Jack Crawford looking good in an expanded role, and Takk having a lot of success. Beasley had his best game of the season, too, even if his strip sack that should’ve been didn’t count. If they lose Grady Jarrett for any length of time they’re boned, but if he’s healthy the line looks like it can deliver solid (if likely unspectacular, outside of Takk) results.

Overall, obviously, the effort and execution were an abject disaster for Atlanta, which has now dropped two straight games primarily thanks to the defense. If they’re going to continue to experiment, one has to wonder if we might see Keith Tandy get some time at strong safety, given his experience at the position and the lack of inspiring alternatives at this point. It is obvious, given their 1-3 record, that the team can’t afford to tinker too much longer without finding a configuration that allows more than 35 points per week.

Special Teams

Jordan Richards: 22

Russell Gage: 21

Marvin Hall: 17

Bruce Carter: 17

Keith Tandy: 17

Kemal Ishmael: 17

Matt Bosher: 15

Logan Paulsen: 15

Eric Saubert: 15

Robert Alford: 13


Tandy was the hero thanks to his blocked field goal, while Hall showed impressively as a returner. Overall, special teams fared pretty well against the Bengals, though Cincinnati had some quality returns that set them up for easier scores, which was not what Atlanta needed at all. At least they’re now enjoying better returns and the ageless Matt Bryant.