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Falcons - Colts snap counts: Numbers and lessons from another lackluster game

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The Falcons have fairly streamlined groupings on offense and defense, but it’s not translating into wins.

NFL: SEP 22 Falcons at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Offense

Matt Ryan: 61

Jake Matthews: 61

James Carpenter; 61

Alex Mack: 61

Kaleb McGary: 61

Devonta Freeman: 55

Austin Hooper: 54

Jamon Brown: 53

Mohamed Sanu: 50

Julio Jones: 46

Calvin Ridley: 46

Luke Stocker: 23

Keith Smith: 11

Russell Gage: 9

Wes Schweitzer: 8

Justin Hardy: 5

Kenjon Barner: 3

Ito Smith: 3


This is a fairly streamlined offense at this point, personnel-wise. Injury forced Kenjon Barner and Wes Schweitzer into the game—Schweitzer seems to get into every game due to injury—and Russell Gage and Justin Hardy mix in for a handful of snaps and get a couple of targets, while Keith Smith is the lead blocker for maybe 8-12 snaps. Otherwise, it’s the elite personnel and Luke Stocker getting into games, with Ito Smith mixing in heavily at running back unless he’s hurt, which he unfortunately was this week.

What’s troubling is that there’s been no elite production from those groupings yet. The Falcons have faced three very good defenses but have still managed to average just 20 points per game, a mark that is way off last year, when the team averaged nearly 27 points in their first three weeks, including a 12 point dud to open the year (hmm, familiar) against the Eagles. I’ve mostly liked what Dirk Koetter has been up to thus far, and there’s no point in contesting the idea that Matt Ryan’s six interceptions have ended a number of fruitful drives, but that’s just not going to get the job done for Atlanta.

This week, having no Ito, losing Jamon Brown for a bit (and having him pile up two penalties on the same drive when he returned), and getting next to nothing in the passing game from Calvin Ridley all hurt. This offense just has yet to click on all cylinders, with only Julio Jones (19 receptions for 265 yards and 4 touchdowns, putting him on pace to put up a career-high in scores) really showing out consistently thus far. We’ll hope a messy Titans team is the cure-all this offense needs, though their defense is at least solid.

Defense

Deion Jones: 71

Desmond Trufant: 69

Ricardo Allen: 67

Isaiah Oliver: 66

De’Vondre Campbell: 55

Vic Beasley: 53

Grady Jarrett: 48

Allen Bailey: 44

Damontae Kazee: 43

Jack Crawford: 43

Takk McKinley: 42

Keanu Neal: 41

Kemal Ishmael: 39

Tyeler Davison: 34

Adrian Clayborn: 29

Foye Oluokun: 19

John Cominsky: 12

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 3


The Falcons got more pressure than the box score indicates but rarely closed it out, with Takk and Beasley splitting one sack but the defense otherwise failing to corral Brissett. That proved costly because he passed for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, a very tidy and effective day keyed by success throwing to T.Y. Hilton (who beat Oliver and zone coverage a handful of times) and an efficient day from Indy’s tight ends (who caught 7 of 8 targets, many of them against either Kemal Ishmael or De’Vondre Campbell). It was not Damontae Kazee’s finest day in coverage, either, and those are all guys who are going to play a lot regardless of the week. We’ll just hope Kazee and Campbell in particular bounce back next week.

Speaking of Ishmael, he got a lot of run even before Kemal Ishmael exited the game, and I was not entirely clear why that was. Ish remains a pretty effective run-stopper, but he scuffled a bit tackling in the early going and he’s a guy who has only been an asset in coverage in fits and starts over the years. He’s going to have a much larger role as the likely starter for Neal going forward—and boy am I glad the Falcons have kept him around—but he’s going to need to be more effective on passing downs for that to not be a problem.

Tyeler Davison had fewer snaps than Jack Crawford this week with the team clearly trying to harry Brissett, but obviously that didn’t lead to any impact plays given the strength of the Colts interior offensive line. I’m generally in favor of leaning heavily on Davison because he’s been so good to this point. The defense wasn’t brutally bad by any stretch of the imagination but they’re going to need to tighten up their coverage and get the pass rush home against the Titans, a much easier task at least.

Special Teams

Russell Gage: 18

Duke Riley: 18

Sharrod Neasman: 18

Jaeden Graham: 16

Kemal Ishmael: 13

Jermaine Grace: 13

Foye Oluokun: 13

Kendall Sheffield: 12

Luke Stocker: 11

Keith Smith: 10

Matt Wile: 10


Few surprises here. Wile was effective on kickoffs and solid on his lone punt of the day, when he pinned the Colts deep, but probably is only going to be here for another week at most. At this point, guys like Jaeden Graham, Jermaine Grace, Duke Riley, and Kendall Sheffield are pure special teams, with the injury to Neal probably forcing Sharrod Neasman into an increased role on defense. All of these guys are pretty good in those special teams roles, but the Falcons also have a lot of players at the back end of their roster who have minimal or no real roles on offense or defense with the way they’ve been rolling out their personnel to this point.

It might be nice to see a little more Grace in particular on the defensive side with Campbell and Oluokun off to slumbery starts to the year.