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Falcons snap counts from a dominant 43-6 win over the Raiders

Gonna keep typing “dominant 43-6 win” until the novelty wears off.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We got a rare, unexpected fun Sunday from the Falcons, one where Atlanta beat the Raiders so badly and so thoroughly that Matt Ryan came out of the game late along with a bunch of others. There were big open questions heading into this one regarding whether the Falcons could and would play well on offense without Julio Jones and Todd Gurley, and while they didn’t really do so, they played well enough to help the defense pile on majorly.

As a result, the snap counts are interesting this week. Let’s get right into ‘em.

Offense

Chris Lindstrom: 78

Kaleb McGary: 77

Matt Ryan: 69

Jake Matthews: 69

Alex Mack: 69

Russell Gage: 69

James Carpenter: 67

Calvin Ridley: 56

Christian Blake: 50

Brian Hill: 39

Luke Stocker: 34

Ito Smith: 28

Jaeden Graham: 25

Keith Smith: 20

Brandon Powell: 13

Olamide Zaccheaus: 12

Matt Gono: 11

Justin McCray: 11

Matt Hennessy: 9

Matt Schaub: 9

Tony Brooks-James: 6


Let’s start with the injuries and implications. Zaccheaus was targeted three times on just 12 snaps in this one, with an 11 yard grab and two awful end zone plays that were a huge bummer after he had proved to be so solid in every week he was called upon until that point. He would leave the game with a toe injury and it’s not clear whether that will linger or not. With Julio Jones also banged up, the Falcons will probably have to lean heavily on Ridley, Gage, Powell and Blake next week, with Devin Gray potentially coming up from the practice squad if needed. With Powell’s elite red zone work—two touchdowns on 10 targets!—they’ve got something to work with, even if the rest of the receiving corps outside of Ridley just isn’t impressing on a weekly basis.

The other, more concerning injury was to James Carpenter. The veteran guard hasn’t been Atlanta’s best offensive lineman—he may be the worst—but he’s been better than a year ago and very durable, and the cart coming out for him probably indicates we should be bracing for a multi-week absence. It’s unclear whether Justin McCray, who came into the game to replace him, or Matt Hennessy, who split time with him earlier this year, will be the starter if Carpenter is out. Hennessy makes the most sense from a future-looking perspective but the team will have to feel he’s ready for that responsibility, especially with the Saints looming again.

Ito Smith finally got some snaps to work with and did good things with them, turning 16 touches into 75 yards and a touchdown. This offense’s complete inability to scheme up a truly effective ground game and get backs involved in the passing game is well-established at this point, but Ito and Hill (in a part-time role, at least) have shown some ability to do good work in spite of that. It’s unclear whether it’ll be enough to earn either a decent-sized role with the Falcons in 2021, but I would like to see more Ito in the weeks ahead, especially with no clear idea of when Todd Gurley will return. It appears we will not be getting any Qadree Ollison time soon.

It is worth noting that the Falcons made noise about getting more players involved in the offense and made a clear effort to do so, with Graham picking up his first meaningful snaps of the year and earning a couple of targets, as well as Blake, Zaccheaus and Powell getting work in part due to necessity and in part due to a concerted effort, and with Ito Smith and even Tony Brooks-James getting in on the action at running back. With injuries piling up and the absolute failure of the gameplan the last time out against the Saints, we’ll likely see more of everyone on this list. The question is what that will add up to, because it’s more than a little concerning that guys aren’t getting open regularly enough to get targets even when there is no real alternative.

Defense

Keanu Neal: 55

Foye Oluokun: 53

A.J. Terrell: 51

Grady Jarrett: 47

Deion Jones: 47

Ricardo Allen: 45

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 40

Isaiah Oliver: 38

Steven Means: 35

Darqueze Dennard: 34

Kendall Sheffield: 32

Mykal Walker: 27

Allen Bailey: 27

Marlon Davidson: 25

Charles Harris: 23

Tyeler Davison: 21

Sharrod Neasman: 18

John Cominsky: 18

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 17

LaRoy Reynolds: 16

Dante Fowler Jr.: 16

Jaylinn Hawkins: 8


There are several stories here, which you’d expect after such a dominant effort.

The first one I want to touch on is Tuioti-Mariner’s breakout. The Falcons brought him aboard as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and he spent the entire season and much of 2019 on the practice squad before being elevated to the active roster last November. Since then, he’s played well again and again in very limited opportunities, and in recent weeks he’s played at least 30% of the snaps in every game. This was the first time he landed above 50% in his career, however, and he responded with a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Given that he’s just 24 years old, can play inside and outside, and is unquestionably talented, he has to be an immediate priority for the next regime to re-sign. The Falcons need depth and JTM can be that, at minimum, and it’s great to see him come up through the organization and deliver like he has.

The team has figured out a solid rotation along the defensive line overall. Cominsky unexpectedly got just 18 snaps on Sunday but delivered on them, picking up a sack, while Means once again played quite a few snaps and played well. The insertion of Marlon Davidson came at the expense of Tyeler Davison and others (which is absolutely fine), and Fowler unexpectedly did not play all that much post-injury. The fact that the Falcons are getting pressure and stopping the run with exactly one guy you’d expect to be dominant (Jarrett, obviously) and a bunch of players we thought would be back end of the rotation guys performing well (Cominsky, Means, Bailey, JTM) is as astonishing as it is welcome. Means should also be back, hopefully.

In the secondary, Neal and Allen have settled in nicely at safety, with Neal delivering some peak-Keanu hits on Sunday. Terrell continues to be divisive for the fanbase—I’m starting to think every cornerback is—but once again enjoyed a good game outside of a single long Henry Ruggs grab where he was close. Atlanta’s still splitting time between Oliver and Sheffield, with Oliver looking far better in a part-time role and Sheffield holding his own despite some very real hiccups once again.

Overall, this defense looks like an entirely different unit than the one that got creamed for four straight weeks to open the season. Part of that is what appears to be improved coaching and players simply rounding into form, but a willingness to blitz more and utilize players like Means, Tuioti-Mariner, and Allen more has also helped the cause.

Special Teams

Jaeden Graham: 23

Sharrod Neasman: 22

LaRoy Reynolds: 21

Sterling Hofrichter: 21

Keith Smith: 20

Edmond Robinson: 20

Jaylinn Hawkins: 19

Luke Stocker: 16

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 16

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 16

Tony Brooks-James: 15

Josh Harris: 13

Younghoe Koo: 12

Chris Lindstrom: 10

Kaleb McGary: 10

Jake Matthews: 10

Justin McCray: 10

Matt Gono: 10

Kendall Sheffield: 9

Charles Harris: 9

James Carpenter: 8

Brandon Powell: 8

Steven Means: 7

John Cominsky: 6

Isaiah Oliver: 5

Christian Blake: 3

Allen Bailey: 3

Matt Hennessy: 2

Foye Oluokun: 2

A.J. Terrell: 2

Grady Jarrett: 2

Deion Jones: 2

Tyeler Davison: 2

Marlon Davidson: 1


First note: Younghoe Koo remains awesome. Dirk Koetter’s offense gives him a ton of opportunities because it tends to stall out in the red zone, but Koo is taking full advantage of all of them. He went 5 for 5 on the day against the Raiders, and if he averages 2 attempts and 1 make the rest of the way, he’ll tie Jay Feely for the most attempts in a single season in team history and tie Matt Bryant for most makes. He’s also currently on pace to hold the single season accuracy record for field goals, and it’s hard not to root for him to get there. Atlanta’s likely to make locking him up a priority in 2021.

Hofrichter, meanwhile, has shown he can come in and handle kickoffs when asked to, something he did in this one after Koo got dinged up. File that one away for later in case the Falcons don’t bring Koo back, even if I fully expect them to.

Otherwise, you’re seeing a familiar cast of characters doing fine work on special teams. Things have stabilized nicely under Bernie Parmalee in that regard.