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Falcons snap counts: The case of the disappearing weapons against the Eagles

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It’s not all about the plays.

Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Snap counts sometimes illuminate and sometimes just frustrate, but they’re always worth looking at. Here’s a closer look at the snap counts from that first, frustrating game of the season.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 70

Jake Matthews: 70

Andy Levitre: 70

Alex Mack: 70

Brandon Fusco: 70

Ryan Schraeder: 70

Austin Hooper: 59

Julio Jones: 57

Mohamed Sanu: 56

Devonta Freeman: 39

Tevin Coleman: 36

Logan Paulsen: 19

Eric Saubert: 13

Ricky Ortiz: 10

Marvin Hall: 8

Justin Hardy: 6

Russell Gage: 1


I have all the faith in the world in Calvin Ridley, who I think will become a dangerous receiver in short order. He could not have had a much worse debut, however, as he was targeted just twice and didn’t manage a reception on 46 snaps. That’s a disaster on a night where the Falcons couldn’t reliably find anyone except Julio Jones, and it’s a worrying sign for Ridley’s value to the offense this season.

He was not alone, however. Julio had 19 targets in this game, and no one else even got close to double digits. Mohamed Sanu (6 targets, 4 receptions, 18 yards), Austin Hooper (4 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards) and Devonta Freeman (5 targets, 3 receptions, 14 yards) were the only other Falcons to get more than a couple, with Hall, Hardy and Gage playing a combined 15 snaps and getting zero targets. Eric Saubert had one and no catch.

The ground game wasn’t much better. On a combined 75 snaps, Coleman and Freeman got just 15 carries in a game that was always within at least six points. I know the Eagles are tough to run on, but if the Falcons had no intent of running, they ought to have just split those dudes out wide or taken them off the field entirely to get more receivers and tight ends going. Honestly, anything but what they did sounds good right now.

I can’t stress how much of a disaster this all was. The Falcons are supposed to be bristling with weapons, but the only player who made any kind of real impact on this game (outside of Tevin Coleman, who had that one brilliant touchdown run) was Julio. Some of that is on the plays being called, but more of it is on the shoulders of Matt Ryan (who missed way too many throws) and his receivers (who didn’t do a stellar job getting open).

Defense

Robert Alford: 72

Ricardo Allen: 72

De’Vondre Campbell: 71

Deion Jones: 69

Desmond Trufant: 67

Brian Poole: 63

Grady Jarrett: 54

Takk McKinley: 47

Vic Beasley: 44

Terrell McClain: 39

Keanu Neal: 37

Damontae Kazee: 35

Jack Crawford: 30

Brooks Reed: 28

Derrick Shelby: 25

Deadrin Senat: 20

Duke Riley: 9

Deantre Burton: 5

Foye Oluokun: 4


The Falcons barely used a third linebacker, with Duke Riley and Foye Oluokun combining on just nine snaps in this one. The Falcons didn’t suffer overmuch from that aside from a handful of bowling ball Jay Ajayi runs, especially in the second half, but they’re not going to be able to repeat that against say, Carolina and New Orleans.

The other big takeaway is how few surprises there were here. The Falcons leaned more heavily on Takk and Vic and used Shelby and Reed on obvious run downs, with similar results at defensive tackle. The only real, mild surprise is that McClain played the most snaps next to Jarrett, with Crawford and then Senat still finding their way onto the field plenty.

This is just a good defense, even minus Keanu Neal, and there are no questions about Marquand Manuel’s ability to rotate his guys effectively. Robert Alford, the only Falcons defender to play every snap, remains an extremely underrated player.

Special Teams

Justin Bethel: 24

Foye Oluokun: 23

Eric Saubert: 22

Kemal Ishmael: 22

Russell Gage: 19

Deantre Burton: 18

Justin Hardy: 16

Matt Bosher: 13

Damontae Kazee: 13

Brian Poole: 13

Marvin Hall: 13

Duke Riley: 12


No great surprises here, as these are all core special teamers. Saubert and Oluokun should be two of the team’s most useful players on teams, but both had errors (forced and unforced) that were frustrating in this game. Special teams by and large looked solid in this one, though, and the Falcons have stocked their team with fast, capable players, which is a plus.