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Falcons snap counts and notes from a fun win over the Vikings

Atlanta enjoyed a dominant day, and they did it down three defensive linemen.

Minnesota Vikings lose to Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Offense

Matt Ryan: 80

Jake Matthews: 80

James Carpenter: 80

Alex Mack: 80

Chris Lindstrom: 80

Kaleb McGary: 80

Hayden Hurst: 68

Julio Jones: 64

Calvin Ridley: 59

Russell Gage: 51

Todd Gurley: 46

Luke Stocker: 31

Brian Hill: 21

Christian Blake: 15

Olamide Zaccheaus: 14

Keith Smith: 13

Ito Smith: 11

Matt Gono: 3

Brandon Powell: 3

Jaeden Graham: 1


The rotation at left guard appears to be over for now. While I want Matt Hennessy to get as much experience as he can this year, given that he’ll likely be asked to start in 2021, Carpenter has been pretty solid this year and the rotation didn’t really let either play feel entirely comfortable.

With Julio back, Zaccheaus went back into having a minimal role. He and Blake were both targeted twice, with Blake grabbing one pass for 5 yards, but it’s clear neither has a significant role so long as the big three are healthy. I would like to see more Zaccheaus downfield going forward, given his speed and talent, but I recognize there’s a lot of targets that will be soaked up by Julio, Ridley, Gage, and Hurst.

Finally, the running back rotation was split about 55/30/15 between Gurley, Hill, and Ito Smith. None of the three had their best days of the entire year, but Ito’s three touches on 11 snaps went for 25 yards, and hopefully he’ll be able to get a little more work going forward, particularly as a receiver.

There’s just not much to quibble with here in terms of how the team divvied up their playing time, given that they scored 40 points. The truth is that having Julio on the field is transformative for the offense, something the next regime will have to weigh heavily.

Defense

Foye Oluokun: 56

A.J. Terrell: 55

Keanu Neal: 55

Deion Jones: 54

Ricardo Allen: 54

Grady Jarrett: 52

Kendall Sheffield: 51

Dante Fowler Jr.: 45

Charles Harris: 40

Isaiah Oliver: 38

Steven Means: 31

Allen Bailey: 29

Tyeler Davison: 19

Mykal Walker: 18

Edmond Robinson: 8

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 5

Deadrin Senat: 4

Sharrod Neasman: 1

LaRoy Reynolds: 1


The Falcons were more or less forced into juggling their snaps along the defensive line differently this week, given that they had no Takk, no Marlon Davidson, and no John Cominsky. It was always going to be interesting to see how they divvied up those snaps, and the takeaways are worth spending some time on.

First of all, this team clearly trusts Charles Harris, as he got a lot of snaps in relief of Takk. He and Fowler didn’t stuff the stat sheet at all but were reasonably effective, with all the quarterback hits on defense coming from other players. Steven Means had one and was strong in run support, but this was also Allen Bailey’s finest game by a country mile this season, and it coincided with him actually getting more snaps. He had a sack, two quarterback hits, and a tackle for loss on the day, and should get a longer look again in the coming weeks.

The Falcons ratcheted down Davison and Tuioti-Mariner’s snaps significantly, and it’ll be interesting to see if that continues going forward. Fanbase hero Deadrin Senat also did not get many snaps with Cominsky and Davidson out, so it apparently is just not going to happen for him. I’d argue that given Davison’s quiet year thus far, Bailey should continue to vulture snaps from him, at least until the team gets their two COVID-19 reserve list players back.

It is not a coincidence, either, that the best players on the field were the guys who played the most. Foye Oluokun continues to turn in an unreal season, adding a pick and some strong tackling to an already robust 2020 resume, while Deion Jones had easily his best game of the season with an interception and 3 pass deflections, plus some timely tackling of his own. A.J. Terrell looked stellar at corner for much of the game and Keanu Neal has looked more like the fearsome hitter he once was with every passing week. There were still coverage struggles in this one, many of them belonging to Kendall Sheffield, but a young secondary did perhaps its best job yet here, with Isaiah Oliver’s slimmed down snap counts not preventing him from making a couple of big plays on the ball. This was an encouraging effort from the defense more or less across the board, as they really only let off the gas a bit late when the game was completely out of reach. Remember, it was 30-7 heading into the fourth quarter.

Can they build on this? We’ll see who’s healthy and how they divvy up snaps going forward, but with games against the Lions (reasonably tough matchup) and Broncos (not at all) approaching, it’s fair to say they have a shot.

Special Teams

Jaeden Graham: 21

Sharrod Neasman: 17

Younghoe Koo: 17

Christian Blake: 17

Keith Smith: 16

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 16

Tyler Hall: 15

Luke Stocker: 14

Edmond Robinson: 14

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 12

Sterling Hofrichter: 10

Josh Harris: 10


Under Bernie Parmalee, there was a noticeable difference in the return game. It often seemed as though under Ben Kotwica, the team was trying hard to avoid a screw up, and Brandon Powell rarely did anything on punt returns as a result. He returned 3 for an average of 12 yards in this one, a fine day and an impressive one given that he had only returned 5 punts in 5 games before that. I have a feeling we’ll like Parmalee just fine.

Otherwise, few surprises here, as the Falcons have a pretty good group of special teams players at this point, bolstered by the addition of rookie Tyler Hall. The best note of all is that Younghoe Koo is totally healthy and absolutely banging field goals home, moving past his early season injuries and shakiness and showing a leg for 50+ while doing so. I’m willing to bet he sticks as this team’s kicker for the next few years, at minimum.