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Falcons vs. Cowboys snap counts: Leaning heavily on Julio Jones

The stud receiver has soaked up about 90% of the team’s offensive snaps each of the last two weeks, and yet the offense has stagnated.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no great surprise that when the offense begins to scuffle, it turns to Julio Jones. It’s also no great surprise that the Falcons are not as successful when Julio is the only thing really working for him, as he has been for much of the last two weeks.

That’s not a knock on Julio, who has accounted for 13 receptions, 225 yarsd, and 2 of the team’s 3 touchdowns over the last two weeks. It is a suggestion that a heavily reliance on Julio in those weeks where he doesn’t account for 75% of the team’s total offense by himself and turn Bene Benikwere into a pile of ash happens because the team doesn’t have answers, and that’s pretty troubling.

On to the full snap counts, which illuminate the cause of this team’s troubles only slightly.


Matt Ryan: 56

Jake Matthews: 56

Wes Schweitzer: 56

Alex Mack: 56

Ben Garland: 56

Ryan Schraeder: 56

Julio Jones: 51

Mohamed Sanu: 51

Austin Hooper: 47

Calvin Ridley: 40

Tevin Coleman: 34

Ito Smith: 20

Logan Paulsen: 17

Justin Hardy: 10

Marvin Hall: 8

Eric Saubert: 1

Ty Sambrailo: 1

The Falcons haven’t run the ball less effectively minus fullback Ricky Ortiz, who has been inactive two weeks in a row, but they have run less than they perhaps ought to have. Tevin Coleman touched the ball on just under one third of his snaps, and the Falcons failed to run enough against Dallas.

Otherwise, the Falcons did lean heavily on their best receiving options minus Hooper, who had a fairly quiet effort. With Ryan Schraeder struggling at right tackle, missed opportunities galore (Marvin Hall, where were you looking?), and Ryan looking less sharp than usual, perhaps it’s no great surprise that the Falcons could only muster 19 points. That doesn’t make it any less disappointing.

This offense still does its best work when it’s able to spread the ball around and get everyone involved, because the unpredictability works in Atlanta’s favor. When you can’t get that, you get Julio dominating, solid efforts from a handful of others, and not the points you need.


Damontae Kazee: 64

Robert Alford: 64

Desmond Trufant: 63

De’Vondre Campbell: 52

Grady Jarrett: 48

Foye Oluokun: 48

Brian Poole: 42

Jack Crawford: 42

Sharrod Neasman: 36

Vic Beasley: 33

Takkarist McKinley: 31

Jordan Richards: 26

Brooks Reed: 25

Duke Riley: 24

Derrick Shelby: 24

Bruce Irvin: 24

Terrell McClain: 16

Deadrin Senat: 15

Kemal Ishmael: 13

Bruce Carter: 12

Isaiah Oliver: 2

Bluntly, I’m not sure what to make of the way the team is divvying up playing time. Against the Browns, they prioritized run-stopping over pass rushing acumen and still allowed Nick Chubb to roll all over them. This week, again versus a team with a great rushing attack but also a lousy passing game, they gave Takk and Beasley more snaps (and Vic did get two sacks!), got Bruce Irvin more involved, and rolled out the Jarrett/Crawford combo. They were rewarded by watching Ezekiel Elliott gash them on the ground and through the air, with Deadrin Senat managing the fewest snaps at DT despite showing some real promise when it comes to snuffing out run plays. There is no ideal configuration of players and snaps right now because the Falcons are working with limitations, but three weeks ago I thought they had their playing time pretty well figured out.

It turns out that wasn’t true. Isaiah Oliver probably deserves more snaps with Robert Alford profoundly struggling (he missed an interception in this one), Terrell McClain should be the last man on the field at defensive tackle after the ho-hummiest of ho-hum seasons, and I’m not sure there’s a compelling reason to play Duke Riley more than Bruce Carter and Kemal Ishmael if your goal in a particular week is to play well against the run. Hell, at least Jordan Richards fared pretty well this week!

This defense is still kind of a mess. Ricardo Allen, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal will help a lot next year, but this Falcons team has to sort out their cornerback situation, De’Vondre Campbell’s impending free agency, and a defensive line that hasn’t been nearly as good as we or the team hoped.

Special Teams

Duke Riley: 21

Kemal Ishmael: 21

Bruce Carter: 16

Russell Gage: 16

Justin Bethel: 16

Sharrod Neasman: 16

Eric Saubert: 16

Brian Hill: 14

Isaiah Oliver: 14

Matt Bosher: 13

Logan Paulsen: 12

Marvin Hall: 11

A lot of familiar faces here, though surprisingly special teams addition Jordan Richards got fewer than ten snaps. One of the big, quiet stories of this unit has been Duke Riley going from someone Keith Armstrong barely seemed interested in playing to an integral piece of the puzzle. That has coincided with Foye Oluokun’s rise—and Oluokun looks like he may be very good on defense—but it’s still a good sign for Riley’s future with this team that he’s earned that kind of trust.