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Falcons snap counts for Week 16: The Panthers gifted the defense a lot of run

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90-plus snaps for the defense, less than 50 for the offense, and what we learned from that.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Hope you all got everything you wanted for Christmas! In case you didn’t get snap counts, here they are, a day late.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 48

Jake Matthews: 48

Wes Schweitzer: 48

Alex Mack: 48

Zane Beadles: 47

Ty Sambrailo: 47

Mohamed Sanu: 32

Austin Hooper: 31

Tevin Coleman: 31

Calvin Ridley: 29

Logan Paulsen: 25

Julio Jones: 24

Ricky Ortiz: 16

Brian Hill: 14

Marvin Hall: 11

Justin Hardy: 11

Russell Gage: 8

Eric Saubert: 7

Ryan Schraeder: 2

Ben Garland: 1


The offense only got 48 snaps and managed 24 points off of them, and it was a tale of relative efficiency. Brian Hill stuffed two big mistakes and some impressive running into just 14 dang snaps, but the team’s interest in giving more playing time to young guys appeared to wane against Carolina. Gage got fewer snaps than a week ago, Hall and Saubert were once again quiet, and the team didn’t even bother to activate Potential Future Guard Matt Gono. From an evaluation perspective, it was disappointing but not shocking, given Dan Quinn’s post-game comments about trying to win.

Is that the right approach? Goodness, no, in my opinion. The Falcons have little to gain at this point from not getting a better look at guys who might actually be here contributing a year from now, which is why Zane Beadles at right guard is maddening even if the results are better thus far. If this is an audition opportunity for both Beadles (who could compete with Brandon Fusco, I suppose) and Ty Sambrailo (who could compete with/supplant Ryan Schraeder), fine, but that would also be a continuation of this team’s draft-averse approach to the offensive line, which doesn’t always bear fruit. The limited number of snaps probably didn’t help in this regard, however.

The one opportunity that worked out was Hill, who really only saw more than a handful of reps because Tevin Coleman was hurt. He looked like he was trying too hard to make things happen at time—a guy like Hill who went from fifth round pick to practice squad to poached to re-poached by the team that drafted him understands chances are few and far between—but he also flashed power, moments of excellent vision and surprising bursts of speed. The Falcons don’t need to spend a lot more money at the running back position with their holes, which means they should be thinking about letting Coleman walk and rolling with a Devonta Freeman/Ito Smith/Hill trio heading into 2019.

It’s nice to see this team winning and I’m certain the coaching staff feels there’s not a tremendous amount of value in reps this late in the season when there’s an offseason of evaluation ahead, but I do hope we see a few younger guys get more run in Week 17, especially with Julio Jones and Tevin Coleman gimpy.


Defense

Damontae Kazee: 91

Deion Jones: 90

Desmond Trufant: 85

Brian Poole: 77

Robert Alford: 75

De’Vondre Campbell: 73

Grady Jarrett: 72

Sharrod Neasman: 63

Jack Crawford: 61

Vic Beasley: 57

Takkarist McKinley: 52

Bruce Irvin: 45

Brooks Reed: 33

Deadrin Senat: 33

Steven Means: 26

Foye Oluokun: 22

Isaiah Oliver: 21

Jordan Richards: 21

Kemal Ishmael: 2


Things were very different on defense, where an injured, incredibly inefficient Panthers offense stayed on the field for an insane 91 plays and came away with 10 points. You really can’t understate how lousy Carolina was, but surrendering that few points in that much time is still an accomplishment of a kind.

It gave Atlanta the opportunity to take a longer look at some interesting players, too, with Senat, Means, Oliver and Irvin getting plenty of time this week. Oliver was largely fine, Senat was quiet but useful against the run, and Means and Irvin both looked quite good. The Falcons got to feel good about their defense again and evaluate some players they may want to feature and/or re-sign in the spring, which means this was an excellent day for Atlanta all-around.

At this point, the biggest question is what Atlanta will do with Campbell in the off-season. He’s been a useful player the entire time he’s been with the Falcons and I’m certain the team would like to re-sign him, but it’s not a lock to happen at all. The Falcons seem set to feature Oluokun next year after a very impressive rookie campaign, and if they re-sign Irvin (as seems increasingly likely), they may choose to invest a fresh draft pick at linebacker rather than pay up.

But do expect the team to be interested in bringing back Irvin and Means, perhaps as replacements for some combination of Campbell/Reed/Derrick Shelby, and giving Oliver a bit more run in the final game of the season with Trufant locked in to a spot, Poole coming on strong late, and Alford’s release potentially saving them a huge chunk of change. It’ll be interesting to see if the defense can keep running hot against a Tampa Bay offense capable of much better things.

Special Teams

Kemal Ishmael: 18

Justin Bethel: 18

Bruce Carter: 16

Duke Riley: 16

Russell Gage: 16

Eric Saubert: 16

Matt Bosher: 14

Sharrod Neasman: 13

Logan Paulsen: 12

Isaiah Oliver: 10


The big question on special teams is simply who is coming back next year. The Falcons are teeing up their next generation of useful special teamers with Oliver, Gage, Riley, Saubert and maybe Neasman, but Bethel, Carter and Ishmael have all been core players and are free agents heading into 2019. My guess is that the team will make every effort to bring back Bethel and Keith Armstrong favorite Ishmael, but Carter will end up walking as the team tweaks its group of linebackers. Either way, the coverage unit is much improved this year even without Bosher making huge tackles, and the team simply needs to figure out how the hell they’re going to actually effectively returns kicks and punts next season.