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Falcons snap counts for a season-ending win over the Buccaneers

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The Falcons squeaked one out, but they certainly didn’t focus on evaluation.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

One final time, I give you snap counts.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 77

Jake Matthews: 77

Ty Sambrailo: 77

Alex Mack: 77

Zane Beadles: 77

Ryan Schraeder: 63

Mohamed Sanu: 61

Julio Jones: 51

Austin Hooper: 49

Calvin Ridley: 46

Brian Hill: 32

Logan Paulsen: 29

Tevin Coleman: 25

Ricky Ortiz: 20

Eric Saubert: 19

Jeremy Langford: 16

Justin Hardy: 15

Ben Garland: 14

Russell Gage: 13

Marvin Hall: 9


In the end, the Falcons held fast to their promise: They were not going to use this game to evaluate young players. Jeremy Langford got more carries (though crucially fewer snaps) than Brian Hill. Russell Gage, Marvin Hall and Eric Saubert all got fewer snaps than the veteran options on the roster. The Falcons treated this like a game they had to win and wanted to win, and they got the victory. Taking a harder look at those players will have to wait until the offseason program.

The silver linings? The offense put up 34 points, exploding for 27 in the second half. Hill once again looked pretty good with his carries, setting him up to take the third RB job a year from now. And the offensive line continued to look worlds better with Ty Sambrailo and Zane Beadles in the lineup, no matter how bizarre that sentence is to type, which may mean one or both is back and competing for a job in 2019.

The Falcons have decisions ahead with their offensive line, where Beadles, Sambrailo, Ben Garland and Andy Levitre are all free agents, and Schraeder is on shaky ground after a very shaky year. They also have lesser decisions at receiver, where Justin Hardy is a free agent and Mohamed Sanu is not a 100% lock, at running back with Tevin Coleman hitting free agency, and at tight end where Logan Paulsen’s contract is up. Hopefully they’ve seen enough to make smart, fruitful decisions on all those fronts.

One final note, too: I hope the Falcons don’t keep a fullback next year. Ortiz was not bad, but he was lightly used at best in 2018, and the Falcons could find more productive uses for that roster spot.

Defense

Damontae Kazee: 61

Desmond Trufant: 61

Robert Alford: 52

Brian Poole: 47

Deion Jones: 47

Grady Jarrett: 44

De’Vondre Campbell: 43

Sharrod Neasman: 42

Jack Crawford: 42

Takk McKinley: 37

Vic Beasley: 36

Foye Oluokun: 31

Deadrin Senat: 30

Bruce Irvin: 28

Brooks Reed: 22

Jordan Richards: 18

Isaiah Oliver: 15

Steven Means: 11

Duke Riley: 2

Kemal Ishmael: 1


Ditto here, where the Falcons went about business as usual. There were bright shining moments here, but the Falcons still allowed the Bucs to put up 32 points and score more or less at will at times in this one, which illustrates the work ahead for this football team. They have building blocks up front (Grady Jarrett, Takk McKinley), at linebacker (Deion Jones, to a lesser extent Foye Oluokun), and in the secondary (Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, Desmond Trufant) and solid players dotting the roster, but also holes you can drive a truck through. The pass rush was again middling in this one, the inability to keep Jameis Winston in the pocket bordered on embarrassing, and we got at best an abbreviated look at some of the young players the Falcons might be considering using more in 2019.

The good news is that Oluokun emerged as a starting-caliber linebacker in 2018, and that Kazee proved to be a starting-caliber defensive back with tremendous hands. Don’t take it lightly that the Falcons have scooped up multiple capable players in the fifth (Jarrett, Kazee) and sixth (Oluokun) rounds in recent years, given that they’ll have a shot to do so again this year. But this team’s woes go beyond injury, and it’s clear that the Falcons have some massive upgrades to make along the defensive line in particular.

Special Teams

Kemal Ishmael: 25

Justin Bethel: 25

Duke Riley: 22

Russell Gage: 21

Eric Saubert: 21

Logan Paulsen: 18

Matt Bosher: 17

Isaiah Oliver: 14

Sharrod Neasman: 14

Marvin Hall: 13

Jeremy Langford: 13

Ricky Ortiz: 13

Jordan Richards: 11

Justin Hardy: 11

Jon Condo: 11

Brian Poole: 10


If this is it for Kemal Ishmael, let’s salute one of the best seventh round picks in team history. Ishmael was a capable, physical defender in his early years with the team, and even after Dan Quinn took over and he was marginalized on defense, he’s been one of the Falcons’ best special teamers. I’ll miss him if he doesn’t re-sign, as will Keith Armstrong’s replacement.

Otherwise, the Falcons have plenty of capable options here, with Duke Riley, Eric Saubert, and Russell Gage stepping up in a big way on special teams over the latter half of the season. The Falcons have decisions ahead with the likes of Justin Bethel and Jordan Richards, but at least there’s a capable nucleus here for a much-improved coverage unit.