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Falcons snap counts and notes from a win over Denver: Olamide Zaccheaus arrives

The Falcons made some changes on Sunday, and they almost all helped.

Denver Broncos v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Snap counts? Yeah, we got your snap counts right here, pal.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 71

Jake Matthews: 71

James Carpenter: 71

Alex Mack: 71

Chris Lindstrom: 71

Kaleb McGary: 71

Julio Jones: 63

Olamide Zaccheaus: 52

Hayden Hurst: 51

Todd Gurley: 44

Russell Gage: 39

Luke Stocker: 37

Brian Hill: 19

Keith Smith: 12

Christian Blake: 12

Jaeden Graham: 10

Brandon Powell: 10

Qadree Ollison: 5

Matt Gono: 1


The big surprise here was Olamide Zaccheaus. In Weeks 3 and 4, The Llama (as our own Adnan Ikic calls him) had 12 grabs on 15 targets for 127 yards, perhaps a sign that his role in the offense was going to grow even when the receiving corps was healthy. Instead, he went into mothballs, with just one catch on four targets over the next four weeks, and it appeared that Christian Blake would probably benefit in this one with Calvin Ridley out.

Instead, Koetter threw a bit of a curveball and got Zaccheaus involved, and he delivered the game of his life. Matt Ryan trusted him deep multiple times and over the middle multiple times and he just kept coming up with nice catches, including one of the prettiest touchdown balls Ryan’s thrown in years. The Falcons have enough options that nobody beyond Julio and Ridley is guaranteed to have a big week on any given week, but Zaccheaus has shown he can be a prominent part of the passing game and have a real impact. Hopefully he gets more chances.

The Falcons have to figure out how to get their ground game back on track in the worst way, however. Gurley is still dominating snaps and he’s had at least 18 carries each of the past four weeks after only going over that mark once in the first five games, but his per carry average hasn’t cleared 2.8 yards at any point in those last four weeks. The booth kept talking about his lack of explosiveness against the Broncos, but the reality is it would take rookie season burst from Gurley to bounce the ball outside with men in his face, something he keeps trying to do.

Hill is faring better than Gurley, full stop, but I also don’t believe the veteran back is completely toast all of a sudden. I think his carries needs to be managed more carefully and he needs to be put in a better position to succeed, as so-so run blocking and predictable play design by Koetter is getting him killed in the backfield. It’s not a huge surprise that Gurley, who is dealing with an arthritic knee and very few opportunities to actually get daylight when he’s running, is increasingly not faring well. That isn’t likely to change unless the blocking and play calling does, and I don’t expect the snap split to change going forward, unless Qadree Ollison gets a few more carries at both Gurley and Hill’s expense.

Defense

Deion Jones: 73

A.J. Terrell: 73

Keanu Neal: 73

Ricardo Allen: 72

Foye Oluokun: 67

Grady Jarrett: 63

Steven Means: 51

Darqueze Dennard: 43

Charles Harris: 40

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 36

Isaiah Oliver: 35

Allen Bailey: 34

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 33

Kendall Sheffield: 30

John Cominsky: 30

Tyeler Davison: 19

Pita Taumoepenu: 19

Mykal Walker: 11

Sharrod Neasman: 1


I wondered how the team would divvy up its defensive line snaps with both Dante Fowler Jr. and Takk McKinley out, and the answer was heavy doses of Grady Jarrett, Steven Means, Charles Harris, Allen Bailey, John Cominsky, and...Jacob Tuioti-Mariner? The heavy rotation the team uses affords plenty of chances to players who the coaching staff believes in, and this week JTM got a long overdue boost to his playing time after regularly making plays in limited opportunities. This group isn’t heavy with top-end talent, but the team generated enough pressure to be impactful on Sunday against a jittery Drew Lock, at least until late, and I have to imagine that the release of Takk means they’ll be comfortable with this group going forward.

Only Tyeler Davison seems to have fallen out of the rotation a bit at this point, and that may get worse when Marlon Davidson is back in action. It’s clear the Falcons have finally managed to come up with a halfway decent rotation at long last, one where everyone is a useful contributor, but they really need some elite pass rushers to pair with Grady Jarrett sooner than later.

In the secondary, the Falcons are also rotating players a bit more, especially at cornerback. The return of Darqueze Dennard saw him getting more time than expected at outside corner, with Oliver and Sheffield also mixing in. Oliver has fared far better since being plopped into a reduced role while Sheffield has struggled, but the Falcons can and should try to maximize their strengths and reduce their exposure to receivers they struggle against the rest of the way. A.J. Terrell is playing lights out and Blidi Wreh-Wilson is both available and playing well, so that plus Dennard’s return gives Atlanta the luxury of trying some new things.

Special Teams

Sharrod Neasman: 21

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 19

Luke Stocker: 17

Jaeden Graham: 17

LaRoy Reynolds: 16

Keith Smith: 15

Christian Blake: 15

Younghoe Koo: 11

Brandon Powell: 11

Deion Jones: 11

A.J. Terrell: 11

Isaiah Oliver: 11

Edmond Robinson: 11

Josh Harris: 11

Sterling Hofrichter: 11

Tyler Hall: 11

Steven Means; 10

Foye Oluokun: 10


Tyler Hall has seen his role fall a little bit in recent weeks and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner’s has grown even as he pulled down way more defensive snaps this week, but otherwise it’s more or less status quo on the snap counts here.

Younghoe Koo continues to hit long field goals when given the opportunity, which means we don’t have to sit on a bed of nails every time he has to line up for one.