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Falcons snap counts from a feckless offensive day against the Chargers

Atlanta’s divvying up of snaps isn’t necessarily brilliant, but shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic didn’t make it float again, either.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The offense is a tired, stale gag at this point. It’s hard to find much humor in the same outcome—scoring 20 or fewer points on offense—when it happens every week in a slightly different manner. With the defense playing fairly well and special teams doing its job outside of one lapse, it won’t surprise you to learn more of our focus in the snap counts this morning will be on the offense.

It will also not surprise you that there are no easy answers for a unit that has fallen so, so low. Let’s get to it.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 57

Jake Matthews: 57

Justin McCray: 57

Alex Mack: 57

Chris Lindstrom: 57

Matt Gono: 57

Calvin Ridley: 48

Russell Gage: 41

Luke Stocker: 33

Hayden Hurst: 33

Brandon Powell: 28

Ito Smith: 25

Todd Gurley: 19

Keith Smith: 16

Christian Blake: 13

Jaeden Graham: 11

Brian Hill: 9

Laquon Treadwell: 8

John Wetzel: 1


At this point there are so many injuries and this offense is such a mess that it’s hard to know what to read into. Let’s try regardless.

First of all, the Falcons are trapped in the same vortex with Todd Gurley as the Rams were a year ago, where the coaching staff would declare that he was ready for a full workload and that workload would not materialize. Here, he was out-snapped and out-produced by Ito Smith again, and it just never seems like this offense has a plan for him beyond “perhaps some early down and short yardage runs up the middle!” As a result, Gurley is good for a handful of quality blocks and maybe one good run per game, while Brian Hill has become an afterthought with Ito’s emergence. The backfield is a mess and the ground game remains largely ineffective for reasons that go well past who is toting the rock, but it’s safe to say only Ito is guaranteed to be here next year.

At wide receiver, Ridley and Gage utterly dominated both snaps and targets, receiving 19 of Ryan’s 32 attempts on the day and catching 13 of his 21 completions. Aside from Laquon Treadwell’s impressive touchdown, the passing game floundered again, with Todd Gurley having the the third-highest target and reception count on the team with 3 targets and 2 receptions for 12 yards. Without Julio Jones and Olamide Zaccheaus the cupboard is just pretty bare at the position. The same is true at tight end, where Stocker had the same number of snaps as Hurst, who has become a complete non-factor in this passing game in recent weeks. His speed isn’t being utilized, he’s rarely schemed open and seems to be struggling to get open in one-on-one matchups, and even his remarkably consistent hands have been shaky over the past month or so. Ryan’s straining to be effective with only 2-3 reliable options in this passing game week after week, and while that’s hardly the only reason he’s throwing brutal picks out there, it is a factor.

The offensive line, meanwhile, turned in another solid effort overall. Matt Gono was legitimately impressive in a spot start for Kaleb McGary, fending off Joey Bosa throughout the day and generally looking as good as he’s been hyped up to be repeatedly over the past couple of seasons. The next regime would be smart to re-sign Gono on an affordable deal and let him push for the left guard job or at least swing tackle, given that he’s proven to be a capable player. McCray, meanwhile, looked a lot like James Carpenter, which is to say he had his misadventures but was overall decent.

It’s not clear what this offense can credibly do differently at this point, but there also appears to be very little appetite for shaking things up. Hurst will continue to get run without the team having an effective plan for him, Gurley will continue to soak up snaps with the same sort of lack of a plan evident for him, and nobody except a healthy Julio, Ridley, and Gage are going to be very effective for this offense without Dirk Koetter cooking up some things he hasn’t proven to be capable of consistently cooking up. I’d personally like to see more Blake, more Graham, and even more Treadwell and Ollison, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

Defense

Sharrod Neasman: 73

Deion Jones: 73

Foye Oluokun: 73

A.J. Terrell: 73

Keanu Neal: 73

Grady Jarrett: 61

Darqueze Dennard: 60

Isaiah Oliver: 57

Dante Fowler Jr.: 55

Steven Means: 44

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 39

Tyeler Davison: 33

John Cominsky: 26

Allen Bailey: 23

Mykal Walker: 18

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 11

Marlon Davidson: 9

Edmond Robinson: 2


Ah, just all the top Falcons defenders playing a full complement of snaps, including...Sharrod Neasman?

The veteran safety and core special teamer has always done a solid job when he’s inserted into the starting lineup at safety, and this was no exception, as he more than held his own taking over for Ricardo Allen. Neasman gets overlooked a lot when we talk about players who should return under a new regime, but between his special teams value and his ability to credibly fill in at safety, he’s a player I hope is back in 2021.

The pass rush struggled mightily yesterday, in part because the Chargers were intent on using screens and in part because there was no career game from Tuioti-Mariner or Means to bail them out this week. Fowler got very close once but has otherwise continued to be less impactful than anyone hoped for or envisioned, and only Jarrett was regularly pushing the pocket Sunday. Davison, to his credit, has turned expanded playing time into run stops, but that’s coming as the rest of the run defense is hitting a struggle patch.

Overall, though, the defense continues to do enough to hold teams to like 20 points, which would have been enough to win double digit games in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and you can see where I’m going with this. The defense has its frustrating moments but the coaching staff is doing a good job of parceling out snaps and getting this unit ready to play, and they’re hardly the reason everything has gone wrong for Atlanta of late.

Special Teams

Edmond Robinson: 13

Keith Smith: 13

LaRoy Reyhnolds: 13

Mykal Walker: 11

Jaeden Graham: 11

Jaylinn Hawkins: 11

Luke Stocker: 9

T.J. Green: 9

Steven Means: 8

Tyeler Davison: 8

Blidi Wreh-Wilson: 8

Tyler Hall: 8

Sharrod Neasman: 7

Isaiah Oliver: 7

John Cominsky: 7

Brandon Powell: 7

Kendall Sheffield: 7

Younghoe Koo: 7

Deion Jones: 5

A.J. Terrell: 5

Foye Oluokun: 5

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 5

Allen Bailey: 5

Brian Hill: 5

Josh Harris: 5

Sterling Hofrichter: 5

Grady Jarrett: 4

Laquon Treadwell: 4

Matt Gono: 3

Justin McCray: 3

Jake Matthews: 3

Chris Lindstrom: 3

John Wetzel: 3

Keanu Neal: 1

Darqueze Dennard: 1

Dante Fowler: 1

Marlon Davidson: 1

Alex Mack: 1

Christian Blake: 1


With Neasman’s snaps dialed back, there were some new faces in expanded roles on special teams this week, but the most noteworthy item is that they royally screwed up a return that gave the Chargers very favorable field position. That shouldn’t happen, but it especially shouldn’t happen against a hapless Chargers special teams unit.

The only other note here is that Younghoe Koo will have to wait at least one more week to break the franchise field goal mark. Alas.