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Falcons snap counts from the midway point of the 2020 season

Here’s how the Falcons divvied up their snaps in the first half of the season, with some notes on what might be coming next.

David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that we’re halfway through the season, it’s a good time to look back at what has happened to this point. One of the way I like to do that is by sharing the snap counts for the first eight games of the season, because we spend time on the week-to-week snap counts and sometimes miss the larger trend lines in playing time as a result.

Below, you’ll find snap counts and notes from the 2-6 first half of the season. Let’s see what the second half brings.

Offense

QB Matt Ryan: 582 (100%)

OT Jake Matthews: 582

OG Chris Lindstrom: 582

OC Alex Mack: 581

OG James Carpenter: 507

OT Kaleb McGary: 458

TE Hayden Hurst: 432

WR Calvin Ridley: 427

WR Russell Gage: 330

RB Todd Gurley: 328

WR Julio Jones: 320

TE Luke Stocker: 242

WR Olamide Zaccheaus: 231

RB Brian Hill: 158

OT Matt Gono: 142

FB Keith Smith: 113

WR Christian Blake: 113

RB Ito Smith: 76

OC Matt Hennessy: 76

WR Brandon Powell: 73

TE Jaeden Graham: 38

RB Qadree Ollison: 8

OT John Wetzel: 3


Only three players have played every snap this year. Matt Ryan isn’t having a career year but has been mostly very good aside from a Julio-less slump midway through the first eight games. Matthews has been his usual reliable self, not grading out quite as highly as last year thus far but still putting up a very nice 69 Pro Football Focus grade and having allowed just one sack through eight games thus far. Lindstrom, meanwhile, has a terrific 75 PFF grade and has been a very effective player overall, showing the health we needed to see after last year’s devastating injury and the effectiveness we wanted after the Falcons somewhat surprisingly picked him 14th overall last year. He’s allowed three sacks to this point.

There’s no question overall that having stability along the offensive line has helped a great deal. Ryan has been pressured more than I’d like in recent weeks, but even James Carpenter has held up pretty well this year, and Matthews, Lindstrom, and McGary look like building blocks for the next regime. Gono and Hennessy may be in line for more snaps down the line, but the team has at least gotten a look at both players in case they might step into roles a year from now (Gono would need to be re-signed).

There just aren’t a lot of surprises in how the team has deployed its personnel overall. Due to injury they’ve had to involve players beyond their top three receiving options, but at running back Gurley has been the lead back and Hill has been the clear #2, which is more or less what we thought we’d see based on the first week or two of the season. Hurst, meanwhile, has gotten all the snaps you’d expect after replacing Austin Hooper and has mostly done well with them, while Dirk Koetter’s unhealthy and unproductive love affair with Luke Stocker (owner of a dismal 40.9 PFF score) continues. It’ll be interesting to see if Jaeden Graham, who flashed in limited opportunities a year ago, might take some of Stocker’s snaps as the team evaluates things post-bye, but I doubt it.

The offense continues to be limited by injury and coaching more than anything else, because the personnel here remains excellent. Let’s see if that changes at all going forward, but don’t expect Atlanta to rip up the carpet and start doing anything unusual with its snap counts beyond perhaps giving Qadree Ollison opportunities at the expense of Ito Smith.

Defense

LB Deion Jones: 502 (95%)

CB Isaiah Oliver: 472

DT Grady Jarrett: 423

S Keanu Neal: 405

CB A.J. Terrell: 378

LB Foye Oluokun: 360

DE Dante Fowler Jr.: 351

DE Steven Means: 279

S Ricardo Allen: 275

CB Kendall Sheffield: 253

DT Tyeler Davison: 241

LB Mykal Walker: 222

DE Allen Bailey: 209

CB Darqueze Dennard: 195

DT John Cominsky: 187

DE Charles Harris: 171

CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 142

DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 114

DE Takk McKinley: 85

DT Marlon Davidson: 59

S Jaylinn Hawkins: 54

S Sharrod Neasman: 51

DT Deadrin Senat: 33

LB Edmond Robinson: 31

S Jamal Carter: 31

LB LaRoy Reynolds: 21

DE Austin Edwards: 1

CB Tyler Hall: 1

CB Delrick Abrams: 1


The story of the season for Atlanta’s defense has been one of ineptitude, injury, and misfortune. The Falcons have gotten stellar eight game stretches out of Grady Jarrett and increasingly Keanu Neal, with Foye Oluokun’s emergence, Deion Jones’ flashes, and A.J. Terrell’s strong career opening registering at highlights. Beyond that, they’ve had to rely on unexpected contributors due to injury (Takk was expected to have a breakout year and has played just 16% of the snaps), COVID-19 (Allen Bailey increasingly stepping in for John Cominsky), and more injuries (Dennard on injured reserve, Damontae Kazee out for the year, etc.). The result has been a hodgepodge of results and outcomes, but most of them have been bad.

The good news for Atlanta, however, is that things are heading in the right direction. The Falcons are getting back Dennard soon, already have Cominsky back, and could have a fairly healthy McKinley soon if he’s not traded. Davidson has been a non-factor to this point but his talent is evident and he could also be back in action and added to the defensive line rotation soon. With Oliver improving a bit, Sheffield and Terrell taking lumps but showing some great work in between, and Neal turning back into the Keanu of old, the secondary should be headed for better outcomes, as well. The Falcons basically hit rock bottom through the first five weeks of the season, but some kind of improvement should be a reasonable expectation, and they won’t need to rotate through guys quite as ridiculously as they did through the first half of the season if all goes well.

One player to keep an eye on the rest of the way is Mykal Walker, who has registered 42% of the snaps as a rookie and has mostly acquitted himself well there. It’ll be interesting to see if he can carve out a role wth Oluokun and Jones playing so well the rest of the way, and whether fellow rookie Jaylinn Hawkins can get some playing time with safety set to shake up in 2021.

Special Teams

Sharrod Neasman: 160 (72%)

LaRoy Reynolds: 138

Keith Smith: 135

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 121

Luke Stocker: 110

Jaeden Graham: 107

Mykal Walker: 89

Christian Blake: 87

Younghoe Koo: 75

Olamide Zaccheaus: 73

Sterling Hofrichter: 72

Tyler Hall: 70

Brandon Powell: 69

Jaylinn Hawkins: 66

Josh Harris: 66

Brian Hill: 62

Steven Means: 59

Edmond Robinson: 57

Isaiah Oliver: 55

Blidi-Wreh Wilson: 49

Tyeler Davison: 47

John Cominsky: 47

Deion Jones: 46

Jake Matthews: 40

Chris Lindstrom: 40

James Carpenter: 40

Matt Gono: 40

Allen Bailey: 37

Keanu Neal: 36

Foye Oluokun: 34

A.J. Terrell: 33

Kaleb McGary: 31

Matt Hennessy: 23

Delrick Abrams: 22

Grady Jarrett: 20

Kendall Sheffield: 20

Charles Harris: 20

Damontae Kazee: 17

Justin McCray: 17

Hayden Hurst: 16

Qadree Ollison: 13

Darqueze Dennard: 12

Marlon Davidson: 10

Jordan Miller: 8

Elliott Fry: 7

Jamal Carter: 6

Austin Edwards: 5

Julio Jones: 5

Dante Fowler Jr.: 4

Deadrin Senat: 4

Ricardo Allen: 3

Calvin Ridley: 3

Ito Smith: 2

Takk McKinley: 1


As has become typical, Neasman is perhaps the most essential non-specialist the Falcons have, a player who dominates snaps and is a key cog. Given that he can also play safety in a pinch, Neasman is one of the few priority depth re-signings the Falcons need to make under a new regime. Reynolds may also be a priority, and I think the team should strongly consider bringing back Tuioti-Mariner, who has been a rock solid defender in his limited opportunities and has become a key contributor here as well.

We’re seeing Tyler Hall getting more special teams snaps in recent weeks, and he could be a player contending for an expanded role there next year, especially given that he has some promise as a cornerback. It’s also interesting that Ollison immediately got 13 special teams snaps against the Panthers last week after supplanting Ito Smith, a healthy scratch who has essentially not played at all on special teams.