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Falcons snap counts from a fun win over the Panthers

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An improved offensive line, Olamide Zaccheaus and his magical catch, and more in this week’s snap counts.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

It was a great win for the Falcons despite the lackluster competition, and as always, there were some interesting subplots reflected in the snap counts. This week, it’s worth commenting on the rotation at right guard, the productive defensive line rotation, and how injury might impact things going forward.

Offense

Jake Matthews: 72 (100%)

Alex Mack: 72

Kaleb McGary: 72

Matt Ryan: 70

Julio Jones: 58

Wes Schweitzer: 55

Devonta Freeman: 48

Austin Hooper: 47

Luke Stocker: 41

Calvin Ridley: 38

Russell Gage: 37

Chris Lindstrom: 36

Matt Gono: 36

Olamide Zaccheaus: 22

John Wetzel: 17

Brian Hill: 14

Christian Blake: 12

Justin Hardy: 12

Qadree Ollison: 10

Jaeden Graham: 8

Matt Schaub: 2


Plenty of interesting notes from this one, but let’s start with Olamide Zaccheaus, who had the longest first catch in NFL history on Sunday.

Zaccheaus has been lurking at the fringes of the roster all year, having stuck coming out of roster cuts but predictably spending much of his time with the inactives. On Sunday he ended up playing more than both Christian Blake (who made a couple of errors in this one, including an unnecessary block in the back that erased a quality Devonta Freeman run) and Justin Hardy, and that catch made that playing time worth it. It’ll be interesting to see whether he gets more run against a 49ers defense that was vulnerable to big plays this past weekend, though Blake has generally done enough to deserve the time. If Calvin Ridley isn’t back—and I don’t like entertaining that thought—there may be playing time enough for both of them.

The guard situation also bears mentioning. I had reverse cursed (blessed?) Matt Gono the other day by writing that I wasn’t sure he was going to actually get a shot to prove himself, given how aggressive the Falcons had been about burying him despite their awful offensive line situation. Dan Quinn and company hauled him out of mothballs for this one and he played quite well in an even split with Chris Lindstrom, who was excellent in his return from injured reserve. Both players looked good enough to earn longer looks as starters, and with Jamon Brown in the coaching staff’s doghouse, James Carpenter and Wes Schweitzer now dealing with injury, and Gono playing well, it’s quite possible we’ll get to see him more against the 49ers. It’s deeply unfortunate that the Falcons spent so much money for two guards they’ve clearly soured on when Gono was one of the most hyped players in camp, but I suppose when it comes to figuring out what you have for 2020, it’s better late than never.

The ground game also fared well with Freeman as the workhorse, something we haven’t been able to say often this year. Give the entire line credit for improved blocking, as the Gono/Lindstrom rotation was just one piece of the puzzle there. It helps that Carolina’s run defense is abysmal, but it was nice to be reminded that Freeman can carry the load—he had 21 touches overall and 94 yards—and we’ll hope he can manage that against the 49ers in less than a week’s time.

Defense

Damontae Kazee: 68 (96%)

Kendall Sheffield: 67

Isaiah Oliver: 57

Deion Jones: 56

Ricardo Allen: 56

Adrian Clayborn: 47

De’Vondre Campbell: 45

Grady Jarrett: 44

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 42

Foye Oluokun: 39

Vic Beasley: 39

Takk McKinley: 37

Jack Crawford: 36

Tyeler Davison: 30

Allen Bailey: 28

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 24

Desmond Trufant: 24

Jamal Carter: 17

Jordan Miller: 14

Kemal Ishmael: 11


By now, it certainly seems like the most productive version of this defensive line rotation is the one Atlanta rolled out Sunday against the Panthers, where Clayborn and Jarrett are leading the way and there’s a true rotation of everyone else. Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley were hyper-productive without needing to dominate the snap counts, Allen Bailey and Tyeler Davison played quite well on the interior, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner continues to play better than I would’ve expected as the last man in the rotation. Atlanta got a lot of productivity out of the group, though the run defense wasn’t stellar all day, a fairly ominous sign against the hydra that is Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers ground game.

Against a Panthers team that doesn’t have a fearsome passing attack, the Falcons also found plenty of playing time for Foye Oluokun. De’Vondre Campbell is playing terrific football, but Oluokun just continues to produce no matter what, and despite settling in at just 55% of the defensive snaps, he managed to lead the team in tackles and make a couple of stellar run stops along the way. The more Oluokun we see the rest of the year, the better, given that he may well be a starter in 2020.

The secondary, meanwhile, continues to be thinned by injury. Desmond Trufant will now miss the rest of the year with a broken forearm, which may afford opportunities for rookie Jordan Miller the rest of the way. Kendall Sheffield, Isaiah Oliver, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson aren’t a perfect trio—Sheffield was beaten a couple of times against the Panthers and Oliver got called for a costly pass interference penalty—but they’re certainly better and more established than the last time Trufant went down.

Special Teams

Jaeden Graham: 29

Kemal Ishmael: 26

Foye Oluokun: 24

Keith Smith: 20

Brian Hill: 19

Christian Blake: 18

Jamal Carter: 16

Younghoe Koo: 16

Luke Stocker: 15

Damontae Kazee: 14

Olamide Zaccheaus: 13

Josh Harris: 13

Ryan Allen: 13

Tyeler Davison: 13

Jordan Miller: 10


The core special teamers here are evident, and Graham, Ishmael, and Oluoun are all very good at what they do. Guys like Blake, who stepped out of bounds before corraling the ball at the 1 but deserves a ton of credit for his instincts and effort on the play, should also be core players going forward. Younghoe Koo and Ryan Allen look like they could be multi-year solutions as specialists for Atlanta, though I doubt either one will get those jobs unchallenged.