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Falcons - Panthers Week 8 snap counts: Injury forces some shuffling, but it all works out

The Falcons won in spite of losing a top receiver and cornerback.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Is it snap counts time already? Why yes.

This time out, we’re getting to enjoy an actual win instead of a lasts second loss, so the notes will be a little cheerier as a result. There’s also plenty to discuss thanks to injury, the vagaries of how the team splits snaps at key positions, and Younghoe Koo’s latest excellent (but not blemish-free) day.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 70

Jake Matthews: 70

James Carpenter: 70

Alex Mack: 70

Chris Lindstrom: 70

Kaleb McGary: 70

Julio Jones: 58

Hayden Hurst: 56

Russell Gage: 39

Christian Blake: 38

Todd Gurley: 36

Luke Stocker: 34

Brian Hill: 25

Calvin Ridley: 23

Keith Smith: 17

Olamide Zaccheaus: 9

Qadree Ollison: 8

Jaeden Graham: 4

Matt Gono: 2

Brandon Powell: 1


There were a few surprises here. The Falcons seem to strongly prefer certain receivers to take over for other receivers, with Brandon Powell getting a lot of run last week with Russell Gage out and Christian Blake filling in this week for an injured Calvin Ridley. Olamide Zaccheaus has been sidelined as a result the last couple of weeks despite being a pretty productive receiver in his opportunities. Maybe that changes going forward, but the team has seemed eager to mix in different receivers depending on injury and matchup.

We haven’t gotten an explanation for Gurley’s long rest time on the sideline in this one, but it provided Brian Hill and even Qadree Ollison opportunities they might otherwise not have gotten. Gurley dealt with some questionable blocking but really only put two quality runs out there, while Hill fared much better. If it’s a question of a flare up we may see more Hill going forward, but I have no idea whether to expect more Ollison given that Ito Smith was a healthy scratch out of nowhere.

Otherwise, things were about as you’d expect. Hurst is locked in the feature role at the tight end, you have three clear top options at receiver when everyone’s healthy, and the offensive line is healthy and pretty effective, even if there seems to be one lineman per week who struggles.

Defense

Foye Oluokun: 54

Deion Jones: 54

A.J. Terrell: 54

Keanu Neal: 54

Ricardo Allen: 53

Grady Jarrett: 50

Isaiah Oliver: 46

Steven Means: 41

Dante Fowler Jr.: 41

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 30

Allen Bailey: 30

Kendall Sheffield: 20

Tyeler Davison: 17

Charles Harris: 17

Mykal Walker: 8

Edmond Robinson: 4

Deadrin Senat: 4

Sharrod Neasman: 1


Injury and the unceremonious ejection of Charles Harris impacted this game in a few different way. The loss of Kendall Sheffield forced Blidi Wreh-Wilson into the lineup, and fortunately for the Falcon he mixed a couple of coverage adventures with a game-sealing interception and nice run stop. Takk’s continued absence from the lineup has thrust Steven Means into a prominent role, while Allen Bailey continues to mix in far more often than Tyeler Davison at this point. Especially if Takk is traded, this is likely the rotation you’re looking at going forward, with a heavy dose of Fowler, Jarrett, Means, and Bailey, at least until Marlon Davidson is ready and John Cominsky returns from the reserve/COVID-19 lits. Harris likely will have a significant role, too, but he barely played the week before and was thrown out of this one, so it’s hard to know for sure.

At linebacker and in the secondary, things are more set, with Jones and Oluokun locking down the former position group admirably. Terrell didn’t have his best game of 2020, but it was still a solid effort and he’s shown more than enough to think he’ll be this team’s top corner for years to come. Isaiah Oliver is faring better in the slot, Kendall Sheffield is locked in as a starter when he’s healthy, and Blidi Wreh-Wilson remains quality depth. With Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal settled back into familiar roles as starting safeties and Neal seemingly getting better by the week, it’s a stable group that appears to be making some strides, which is more than welcome.

This defense still has problems and holes galore, but most of those will have to be addressed in the offseason. For now, we’ll be keeping an eye on how his team deploy its players and whether this faint hint of improvement continues the rest of the way.

Special Teams

Sharrod Neasman: 16

LaRoy Reynolds: 15

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 14

Edmond Robinson: 13

Keith Smith: 13

Olamide Zaccheau: 13

Younghoe Koo: 12

Luke Stocker: 11

Jaylinn Hawkins: 10


The return of Jaylinn Hawkins meant he played a prominent role here, but otherwise I think you know the names on this list by now. The Panthers only had two return all day, a 26 yarder and a -3 yarder, so special teams largely enjoyed a quiet day on that front.

Younghoe Koo had an unusual day. Because this team falters in the red zone so often, he’s second in the NFL in field goal attempts and first in makes, with a 95% hit rate on field goal that’s good for 6th in the league, behind five players who have nailed 100% thus far. He also missed an extra point, his third of the season, and is the second-worst in the NFL in terms of XP percentage, ahead of only Kansas City’s Harrison Butker. There’s tons of evidence that Koo is a very capable kicker and he delivered more on Thursday night with those four field goal make, but I do hope the extra point tries go more smoothly going forward so he can lock up the job over the long haul.