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Falcons snap counts: Atlanta tinkers while the ship sinks

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The Falcons at least tried some different things in what is most certainly a lost year.

Atlanta Falcons v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Another week, another set of snap counts. The Falcons are slowly, steadily moving toward giving young players a larger slice of the playing time, which is a positive in a totally lost season. The question is, did it make a difference for Atlanta, and will it continue?

The answer to the first one is pretty much a resounding no, given that they got stomped, but it does seem like the Falcons are going to give more playing time to young guys and reserves the rest of the way, which is a net positive.

The Falcons did try some unique things for a change this week, so without belaboring just how bad they were, let’s jump into the counts and see what we can learn.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 71

Jake Matthews: 71

Wes Schweitzer: 71

Alex Mack: 71

Ty Sambrailo: 71

Julio Jones: 63

Zane Beadles: 60

Mohamed Sanu: 57

Austin Hooper: 55

Calvin Ridley: 44

Tevin Coleman: 33

Eric Saubert: 32

Ito Smith: 32

Ben Garland: 16

Justin Hardy: 14

Brian Hill: 9

Russell Gage: 6

Marvin Hall: 5


The Falcons gave Ben Garland some time at right guard in this one as Zane Beadles continued to play, well, poorly. The Ty Sambrailo experiment was not a success, but the Falcons did run the ball more effectively, and it’s fair to wonder if Sambrailo was impacted by the gaping black hole next to him at guard. He’ll probably get at least one more week of starting to see how he holds up, while the Falcons will continue to mix and match at right guard. They’d honestly be better served just getting Sean Harlow up and taking a look at him, but I doubt that’ll happen.

The other highlights here are obvious. Saubert got into the game a lot more with Logan Paulsen on the shelf and did just fine, throwing a couple of key blocks and reeling in two catches for 15 yards. Brian Hill and Saubert also got time at fullback, which was interesting, and Ito Smith was nearly even in snaps with Tevin Coleman and outperformed him. It’s extremely likely that Saubert will be the #2 tight end in 2019, Hill a potential third back and fullback candidate, and Smith the #2 back behind Devonta Freeman, so these snaps and solid performances are deeply encouraging and necessary.

Otherwise, you didn’t see too many surprises here. The Falcons gave Russell Gage and Marvin Hall limited snaps compared to Justin Hardy, who fared just fine, but still need to give more snaps to both as they try to settle the back end of their receiver depth chart heading into 2019. It’s possible that Hardy won’t return and Mohamed Sanu will be on the block given his salary, so there’s some urgency there.

Defense

Damontae Kazee: 75

Deion Jones: 65

Desmond Trufant: 64

De’Vondre Campbell: 53

Robert Alford: 51

Brian Poole: 46

Grady Jarrett: 45

Jack Crawford: 39

Vic Beasley: 34

Sharrod Neasman: 33

Takk McKinley: 33

Brooks Reed: 29

Foye Oluokun: 27

Steven Means: 27

Bruce Irvin: 24

Jordan Richards: 21

Terrell McClain: 20

Deadrin Senat: 20

Isaiah Oliver: 19


The Falcons also tried things on defense, which is to their credit and does ease the sting of this game, however slightly. For the first time in weeks, the Falcons gave Steven Means actual playing time, and he was able to get some light pressure and make at least one nice run stop along the way. He’s a deep reserve for this team if he’s here in 2019, but the Falcons may be gutting their defensive end rotation, so it’s important to see what he has. The team also needs to get a better look at Deadrin Senat and stop giving him equal playing time with Terrell McClain, who is not all that effective and is almost certainly gone in 2019. They’re declining to do so thus far, but there are three games left. Oh, and Duke Riley did not play a single defensive snap.

The big news was that the Falcons took playing time away from Robert Alford and gave it to Isaiah Oliver. It wasn’t a straight up benching, but despite a mixed day Oliver still looked just as capable as Alford, if not more so, and needs to continue to get time. The Falcons have a big decision coming up with Alford’s contract, which is crying out for a re-structure if the team isn’t cutting him outright to save several million, and Oliver’s the logical candidate to get more playing time and/or step in if the Falcons move on. Sunday was a baby step, but a positive one.

This defense is still comically bad at times and just mediocre most of the rest of the time, but you’re building for the future right now, so have at it, Falcons.

Special Teams

Kemal Ishmael: 24

Eric Saubert: 22

Russell Gage: 18

Justin Bethel: 18

Duke Riley: 17

Brooks Reed: 16

Foye Oluokun: 14

Ryan Neal: 13

Matt Bosher: 12

Sharrod Neasman: 12

Jordan Richards: 11

Brian Poole: 11

Marvin Hall: 10

Ben Garland: 10


No surprises here. The Falcons have upgraded their special teams quite a bit, and while the return game is faltering still, their coverage has been excellent. They’ll need to figure out a way to replace the likes of Kemal Ishmael and Justin Bethel if they don’t return, but Saubert, Gage, Riley and Oluokun will be here next year and should be major assets.