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James Carpenter seizes the LG job, and more notes from Falcons snaps counts for Week 2

The veteran guard has played fairly well so far, and now Matt Gono is up for an opportunity.

Atlanta Falcons v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images


Matt Ryan: 75

Jake Matthews: 75

Alex Mack: 75

Chris Lindstrom: 75

James Carpenter: 70

Calvin Ridley: 63

Russell Gage: 62

Julio Jones: 59

Matt Gono: 57

Hayden Hurst: 49

Todd Gurley: 48

Luke Stocker: 29

Kaleb McGary: 19

Olamide Zaccheaus: 16

Brian Hill: 15

Keith Smith: 12

Ito Smith: 11

Christian Blake: 9

Matt Hennessy: 5

Jaeden Graham: 1

There are a number of takeaways here, starting with the offensive line.

James Carpenter is the starting left guard. His run blocking continues to leave something to be desired—I didn’t see many productive runs heading his way yesterday, to put it mildly—but he continues to pass protect at a much higher level than he did last year. Hennessy was phased out of the gameplan so completely that’s obvious he’s not getting that job back without major struggles or an injury for Carpenter. If the veteran continues to play pretty well, the line will continue to hold up well.

Happily, Matt Gono held up well too, grabbing the highest Pro Football Focus grade (72.4) on the line, tied with Jake Matthews. You never want to see an injury happen and the loss of Kaleb McGary for what could be weeks to come could be impactful, but Gono looked really good in the bulk of the snaps Sunday. The team’s long, long search for useful depth along the offensive line is paying off.

It’s worth noting, too, that Gurley absolutely dominated the running back snaps against Dallas. His work as a blocker makes that understandable, but he didn’t have a very productive day thanks to in part to poor run blocking and poor play design, carrying it 21 times for 61 yards and not receiving a single target in the passing game. Dirk Koetter needs to continue to work to improve the ground game, because there were too many wasted plays on Sunday.

Finally, Julio’s availability was never in doubt, but he looked slowed to a degree that we don’t usually see, which is concerning. The Russell Gage touchdown pass was more or less perfectly placed and Julio simply didn’t get it, and he admitted his hamstring was an issue. It’s something to monitor going forward, but we might see more Olamide Zaccheaus and Christian Blake if they need to limit his snaps.


Isaiah Oliver: 82

A.J. Terrell: 82

Darqueze Dennard: 79

Damontae Kazee: 77

Deion Jones: 77

Grady Jarrett: 68

Keanu Neal: 64

Dante Fowler Jr: 57

Steven Means: 51

Mykal Walker: 46

John Cominsky: 43

Tyeler Davison: 34

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 33

Allen Bailey: 30

Ricardo Allen: 19

Foye Oluokun: 18

Takk McKinley: 14

Deadrin Senat: 13

LaRoy Reynolds: 11

Jaylinn Hawkins: 4

It’s not excuse-making to note that the defensive injuries really did hurt Atlanta in this one.

The loss of Oluokun in particular was a huge deal because he was punching balls out left and right, forcing fumbles and giving the Falcons a chance to jump out to an early lead. The loss of Takk hurt the pass rush and having no Allen hurt because the Falcons have not exactly had elite safety play to this point. Given that it was only a one point game, having those three in it probably would’ve made a difference, though I doubt they could’ve helped keep Dallas in check given how that one unfolded.

That note aside, the defense obviously struggled badly in this one, given that Prescott torched them. As was the case last week against Seattle, there was no one single culprit for that, but this team has holes in coverage that look remarkable in the light of day. Dalton Schultz and Blake Bell were about as anonymous as two tight ends can get, and they combined for 11 catches and 122 yards on the day, with Schultz catching Prescott’s lone touchdown pass. Keanu Neal is struggling mightily in coverage this year, while the corners (outside of A.J. Terrell Sunday) are having up and down days. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb both went over 100 yards, and Prescott tossed for 450 in total despite only have a little over 150 at halftime. When Dallas decided to really hustle and throw their way out of the deep hole they were in, Atlanta seemed utterly powerless to stop them.

Some of that is on the pass rush. Without Takk in the game, Means and Tuioti-Mariner were in a lot, and neither they nor Allen Bailey offers the kind of pass rushing ability that Takk brings to the table. Mykal Walker is not quite yet the pass rusher or player that Foye Oluokun is, though I’m very bullish on his future, and John Cominsky’s early hustle wasn’t as visible later in the game. The Cowboys did a nice job of bottling up Dante Fowler Jr. and Grady Jarrett, and that combined with Prescott’s strong day meant the team couldn’t do much in the second half. Getting Takk back would be nice.

The only real surprises here are on the defensive line rotation. Tuioti-Mariner is a player the team seems quite comfortable with given his larger role on both defense (partly due to injury) and special teams, while Bailey continues to be one of the least-used defensive end options on the team. Senat has now graded out well two straight games but has something like 25 combined snaps to show for it, something that’s not going to get better when Marlon Davidson returns.

Terrell, at least, looks comfortable and is rapidly growing into an every-snap role. He’s gonna be a good one.

Special Teams

Sharrod Neasman: 29

Mykal Walker: 22

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 22

Keith Smith: 21

LaRoy Reynolds: 21

Olamide Zaccheaus: 19

Luke Stocker: 18

Jaylinn Hawkins: 17

Younghoe Koo: 16

Keanu Neal: 15

Brian Hill: 12

Sterling Hofrichter: 11

Josh Harris: 11

Jaeden Graham: 11

Damontae Kazee: 11

Brandon Powell: 10

Tyeler Davison: 10

The Falcons have a pretty solid group of special teamers here, with proven options like Neasman, Reynolds, and Smith, plus young players growing into huge roles like Walker, Tuitoi-Mariner, and Hawkins. They held the Cowboys to respectable kick return averages despite Tony Pollard’s strength as a returner and neutralized punt returns, Hofrichter was fine on punts, and Koo was nails on his field goal attempts. This is a solid unit.

It’s also a unit with two massive unforced errors on the resume in 2020. The first was Neasman’s fumble on an otherwise killer fake in Week 1, a mistake that’s hard to hold against him for long. The second is the unbelievably bungled onside kick, which is harder to forgive. There’s still been no word on whether the coaching staff instructed the players to stay clear of the ball, they did not know the basic rule, or some combination of the two, but Olamide Zaccheaus, Hayden Hurst, Jaeden Graham, Julio Jones, and Neasman were all close enough to the ball to fall on it and did not. That gaffe is going to overshadow the otherwise fine work being done by this unit for a while, I think.