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Falcons snap counts: The safety shuffle continues against the Giants

Sharrod Neasman finds a larger role and the team shakes up linebacker a little bit.

New York Giants v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Sharrod Neasman was not on anyone’s radar as a starter this year, partly because he wasn’t even on the roster to begin the season. He was with the Saints and was an inactive shortly after re-joining Atlanta, but none of that stopped him from essentially starting at strong safety against the Giants.

Atlanta’s had to make do on defense this year with their injuries, but they’ve gotten a little more willing and comfortable experimenting as a result. The Giants still put up nearly 400 yards passing against the Falcons last night, but the defense largely held Saquon Barkley in check and held New York to just 20 points, most of which came late in the game as the Giants tried to rally. I’m not going to declare the defense fixed—we all saw how far away it was—but it got closer, and part of that was Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel giving more time to players like Neasman, Foye Oluokun and Bruce Carter at the expense of players who haven’t performed to this point.

On to the snap counts.


Matt Ryan: 65

Jake Matthews: 65

Wes Schweitzer: 65

Alex Mack: 65

Ryan Schraeder: 65

Austin Hooper: 56

Julio Jones: 49

Calvin Ridley: 41

Mohamed Sanu: 40

Ben Garland: 39

Tevin Coleman: 37

Ito Smith: 28

Logan Paulsen: 27

Brandon Fusco: 26

Justin Hardy: 14

Ricky Ortiz: 13

Marvin Hall: 12

Eric Saubert: 8

Boy, Marvin Hall made the most of 12 snaps, huh?

There aren’t any real surprises here. The Falcons continue to use Ito Smith plenty, though Tevin Coleman is the lead back for all intents and purposes, and Austin Hooper and Logan Paulsen both get plenty of work. Ben Garland stepped in for Brandon Fusco when he was hurt and may need to start for multiple weeks unless Atlanta dodged a bullet.

The offense is what it is at this point, though. You basically know what they’re going to do, and it’s just a question of whether Eric Saubert or Russell Gage will get longer looks going forward.


Robert Alford: 63

Desmond Trufant: 63

Damontae Kazee: 62

De’Vondre Campbell: 53

Grady Jarrett: 49

Jack Crawford: 48

Vic Beasley: 47

Brian Poole: 45

Takk McKinley: 44

Sharrod Neasman: 40

Foye Oluokun: 38

Duke Riley: 26

Jordan Richards: 24

Brooks Reed: 22

Bruce Carter: 20

Terrell McClain: 19

Derrick Shelby: 17

Deadrin Senat: 13

Kemal Ishmael: 6

Isaiah Oliver: 4

Keith Tandy: 1

The Falcons leaned heavily on their most effective group up front, with Vic Beasley having a very good game and Takk, Crawford and Jarrett all picking up sacks against the Giants. They rotated heavily at linebacker and strong safety, though, and the results there were also an improvement.

Foye Oluokun is going to continue to run ahead of Duke Riley after a solid night, though Riley wasn’t a disaster in his 26 snaps by any stretch of the imagination. They continue to get Bruce Carter more involved, as well, and he’s proving to be an effective player against the run as the Falcons surprisingly bottled up Saquon Barkley.

At safety, Neasman led the way and thoroughly outplayed Jordan Richards despite a few adventures along the way. The Falcons weren’t shy about getting Kemal Ishmael in when they really needed a run stop, too, and he continued to look great in those specific scenarios. I would expect Neasman to be the de facto starter again in Week 9, which feels like a positive.

The only players who played basically every snap were Trufant, Alford and Kazee. Tru had a pretty good game overall, Kazee was an absolute missile out there and nearly destroyed Eli Manning on a memorable goal line play, and Alford was an epic disaster, playing his worst game since 2014.

If not for Alford’s performance, this would probably be remembered as Atlanta’s best defensive effort since Philadelphia, and it still should be considered that. It was cause for muted celebration. It’s frustrating that Atlanta wasn’t willing to add talent to the roster via trades, but at least they’re not just going to toss Richards out there for 60 snaps a game indefinitely.

Special Teams

Kemal Ishmael: 20

Russell Gage: 17

Eric Saubert: 17

Bruce Carter: 17

Keith Tandy: 16

Justin Bethel: 15

Matt Bosher: 14

Logan Paulsen: 13

Sharrod Neasman: 13

Foye Oluokun: 11

Marvin Hall: 10

The Falcons have remade their special teams unit over the last year, adding Gage, Carter, Tandey, Bethel, Paulsen, Neasman, Oluokun and others to what had been an awful coverage unit. The Giants managed one strong return, but otherwise, this continues to be a strong core group.