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Falcons 2019 snap counts through the halfway mark

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What can we learn from a full eight games worth of snap counts?

Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

As we’re busy handing out ill-deserved midseason awards and checking in on midseason projections, it seemed like a fine time to build on the work we’ve been doing all year to chronicle this team’s snap counts and round up everyone’s counts for the entire season.

What you’ll see is basically an extension of what you’ve seen on a weekly basis in these snap count articles, which is simmering frustration with the way the team has used its personnel and a lot of depressing, injury-related subplots creeping their way in. Let’s get to it.

Offense

Jake Matthews: 551 (100%)

Alex Mack: 544

Kaleb McGary: 491

Matt Ryan: 466

Austin Hooper: 457

James Carpenter: 435

Julio Jones: 411

Calvin Ridley: 401

Mohamed Sanu: 381

Devonta Freeman: 359

Jamon Brown: 326

Wes Schweitzer: 296

Luke Stocker: 196

Ito Smith: 152

Russell Gage: 128

Justin Hardy: 90

Matt Schaub: 85

Keith Smith: 85

Ty Sambrailo: 73

Chris Lindstrom: 45

Brian Hill: 28

Jaeden Graham: 28

Christian Blake: 14

Kenjon Barner: 12

Olamide Zaccheaus: 5


Jake Matthews has not had his most stellar season—that was definitely 2018, when he was one of the league’s better tackles—but he’s been mostly effective and has played every single snap on offense. Alex Mack (7 snaps) and Kaleb McGary (60 snaps) have come close to doing so, as well, but combining McGary’s rookie status with some pullback in performance from Matthews and Mack has been costly to the line overall. It hasn’t happened that Carpenter, Brown, and Schweitzer have been only so effective (Brown has been the best of the bunch) and have all only played part-time. This might be a very different line with Chris Lindstrom in it, and hopefully we’ll see him in action soon enough.

The other thing that stands out over the course of the season is how Dirk Koetter has elected to roll out his personnel. The stars are all there and accounted for, but a team that has had trouble buying Matt Ryan time in the pocket and Devonta Freeman any room to run has used a fullback on only 15-20% of all snaps, has basically parked their most effective blocking wideout (Justin Hardy) this year, and just generally seems disinterested in actually blocking effectively. If your counter is “well, teams are going to know you’re running,” that’s fine, except Koetter also has done very little with pre-snap motion or spreading things out to try to give Freeman room to operate or keep defenses guessing. It’s the worst of all worlds, is what I’m getting at.

In the second half of the season, expect to see a lot more Gage, Hill, and hopefully both Graham and Blake as the team tries to figure out what they have with some young, interesting players. I’d also like to see a relatively stable starting five along the offensive line, but I’m a dreamer.

Defense

Ricardo Allen: 527 (98%)

Deion Jones: 494

De’Vondre Campbell: 493

Isaiah Oliver: 485

Grady Jarrett: 426

Takk McKinley: 393

Vic Beasley: 392

Allen Bailey: 351

Damontae Kazee: 340

Tyeler Davison: 327

Desmond Trufant: 322

Kemal Ishmael: 263

Kendall Sheffield: 240

Jack Crawford: 220

Adrian Clayborn: 179

Keanu Neal: 167

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 103

Foye Oluokun: 97

John Cominsky: 60

Jamal Carter: 38

Jon Cyprien: 24

Sharrod Neasman: 5

Jermaine Grace: 2

Russell Gage: 1

Duke Riley: 1

Jordan Miller: 1


I know what you’re thinking, and yes, the obvious note here is that Russell Gage is the only player to play offense, defense, and special teams this year. What a season!

We’ve beaten the real story to death by now. This defense is struggling more or less across the board but especially on the back end, and players who might be able to help—or at least would not seem to represent major downgrades—have been buried on the depth chart. Foye Oluokun’s solid 2018 has not gotten him any real time with De’Vondre Campbell enjoying an odd down year, Sharrod Neasman’s frankly impressive relief at safety in the back half of 2018 has gotten him exactly five defensive snaps despite injuries wracking the safety group, and John Cominsky and Jack Crawford are among the head-scratching players with obvious skill sets who have mostly been relegated to backup roles.

We’ll be debating the cause of this defense’s putridity for a long time yet, but the truth is the blame can be spread as thin and wide as watered-down grape jelly. What disappoints me most is that Dan Quinn, despite the admirable faith in the likes of Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield, has not been willing to take more opportunities to mix things up with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Let’s hope that changes in the second half before the next coaching staff’s big teardown comes, because there are players here who are talented enough to have some role in 2020.

Special Teams

Sharrod Neasman: 185 (87%)

Foye Oluokun: 160

Jaeden Graham: 158

Russell Gage: 150

Jermaine Grace: 140

Kendall Sheffield: 109

Keith Smith: 108

Luke Stocker: 106

Kemal Ishmael: 90

Duke Riley: 79

Jamal Carter: 78

Tyeler Davison: 72

Justin Hardy: 65

Kenjon Barner: 58

Josh Harris: 55

Jordan Miller: 51

Brian Hill: 51

Jack Crawford: 49

Allen Bailey: 44

Deion Jones: 43

De’Vondre Campbell: 41

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 37

Matt Bryant: 34

Damontae Kazee: 32

Jake Matthews: 29

Wes Schweitzer: 29

Grady Jarrett: 28

Kasey Redfern: 28

John Cominsky: 26

Kaleb McGary: 26

James Carpenter: 25

Matt Wile: 25

Matt Bosher: 25

Jamon Brown: 20

Olamide Zaccheaus: 16

Isaiah Oliver: 13

Ty Sambrailo: 12

D.J. White: 10

Matt Schaub: 9

Christian Blake: 9

Ito Smith: 7

Mohamed Sanu: 6

Matt Gono: 4

Ricardo Allen: 3

Jon Cyprien: 3

Takk McKinley: 2


Long list, eh? This is far more unsettled than the average year for many reasons, from Matt Bosher getting hurt to Matt Wile giving way to Kasey Redfern to Kemal Ishmael being thrust into a starting role, which has limited his legendarily large role on teams.

The core guys are obvious, though. Neasman, Gage, Graham, Oluokun and Grace have led the team and have generally played quite well in their respective roles, with Neasman standing out both for the number of snaps played and his general game. The team hasn’t been willing to use him much on defense, but I’d be disappointed if he didn’t return next year given his experience and his clear special team values. Oluokun and Gage should be fixtures on this team over the next couple of seasons, with Graham and Grace hopefully returning as well to give this team some stability. If they re-up Ishmael and he doesn’t have to start in 2020, they should be in good shape.

Things are less certain when it comes to the specialists, unfortunately, as Younghoe Koo has replaced Matt Bryant and Bosher is out with no signed punter in sight for Atlanta. We’ll hope the team can stumble on to a pair of capable players, whether it’s Koo or someone else at kicker, because I can’t tell you how much I miss having Bryant and Bosher locked into roles and not really having to think about it.