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Falcons snap counts: Breaking down the playing time for a brutal loss

Where the Falcons went awry.

Atlanta Falcons v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images


Matt Ryan: 75

Jake Matthews: 75

Wes Schweitzer: 75

Alex Mack: 75

Ben Garland: 75

Ryan Schraeder: 75

Julio Jones: 73

Mohamed Sanu: 70

Austin Hooper: 61

Calvin Ridley: 53

Tevin Coleman: 49

Logan Paulsen: 27

Ito Smith: 22

Justin Hardy: 10

Marvin Hall: 6

Eric Saubert: 4

The Falcons were playing catchup, which explains why they had Julio and Sanu in nearly the entire game. Those are unusual snap counts in that Julio and Sanu typically play closer to 75% of the snaps, not 90%-plus. The two combined for 19 targets on a day where Ryan threw 52 passes, and while Julio put together a 7/107/1 line, Sanu managed 6/47/0 and fumbled. With the Falcons largely unwilling to take any shots downfield, the passing game was pretty stifled, as six receivers averaged under 10 yards per grab against the Browns. I’d love to hear Sark weigh in on why that happened, because “the Browns played Cover 2” seems like a lame reason given that the Falcons have shown an ability to work around that in the past.

Unfortunately, the ground game was a mess and had to be abandoned when the Falcons went down big, resulting in a relatively quiet day overall for Tevin Coleman. He did some good things with his touches, as I noted yesterday morning, but the Falcons got away from using him later in the game, largely to their detriment.

Overall, the snap counts were that far out of whack compared to what we normally see, but this was a performance from an offense that didn’t have a good enough plan. With the offensive line actually blocking pretty well against the Browns, you have to hang even more on the failure of execution we saw from Ryan and his receivers, and from a weirdly tepid Steve Sarkisian.


Damontae Kazee: 53

Robert Alford: 53

Desmond Trufant: 53

Foye Oluokun: 45

Grady Jarrett: 43

De’Vondre Campbell: 43

Sharrod Neasman: 33

Brian Poole: 28

Derrick Shelby: 25

Brooks Reed: 25

Takkarist McKinley: 24

Deadrin Senat: 24

Vic Beasley: 21

Jordan Richards: 20

Duke Riley: 19

Kemal Ishmael: 16

Bruce Irvin: 14

Terrell McClain: 11

Bruce Carter: 8

Playing time was interesting on this side of the ball, which stalled the Browns a couple of times early, allowed 28 points in what seemed like the blink of an eye, and then held the rest of the way as the Browns just tried to run the clock out. After settling on playing time in previous weeks, the Falcons tried to mix and match this time out, and I’m not it was for the better.

First, you’ll note that Reed and Shelby actually out-snapped Takk and especially Beasley, while Irvin got 14 snaps overall. I’ll need to back and watch this one to see who was on the field when, but it appears the Falcons didn’t quite get the lift out of their run-stopping group up front that one would have hoped. The team gave a greater percentage of playing time to Duke Riley and Jordan Richards this week, as well as Kemal Ishmael, and again the results were mixed at best.

Of course, it’s hard to point the finger at any one player when the defense allowed Mayfield to throw so many short passes that turned into major gains or scores, and when Nick Chubb ran for almost 200 yards, including a 92 yard romp that featured Falcons getting blocked out of the play left and right. Atlanta just wasn’t very good on Sunday, and chances are good that simply leaning on Reed and Shelby less would not have done enough to mitigate that. They took bad angles and got blocked out of plays, which is the kind of problem this defense has dealt with most of the year despite promises they’ll fix it.

It’s fair to suggest that the Falcons will need a couple of weeks to effectively integrate Irvin, but I’m not sure if they were sending a message to Takk and Beasley with these snaps or if they just felt gameflow dictated that playing time. Either way, the need to improve the front seven is maybe the paramount concern heading into next year.

Special Teams

Duke Riley: 20

Kemal Ishmael: 19

Eric Saubert: 15

Sharrod Neasman: 15

Bruce Carter: 15

Russell Gage: 15

Justin Bethel: 14

Brian Hill: 12

Isaiah Oliver: 11

Logan Paulsen: 10

The Falcons continue to get plenty out of their kickers, enough out of their punter, and very solid play out of their coverage unit, with a couple of great special teams takedowns against the Browns. They are an absolute morass yet again when it comes to returning kicks and punts, with Justin Hardy continuing to field them without seemingly much of a plan and the blocking looking suspect even if he does decide to make a go at it. Alas.

Brian Hill got some special teams snaps, though!