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Falcons snap counts and notes for a Week 5 victory over the Jets

Atlanta leans on rookies, a cohesive line, and hey, they won.

New York Jets v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The snap counts this week have all the big sweeping changes you’d expect if you removed several key players from the lineup, plus a few more interesting notes. Let’s not waste any more time and get right into ‘em.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 78

Jake Matthews: 78

Jalen Mayfield: 78

Matt Hennessy: 78

Chris Lindstrom: 78

Kaleb McGary: 78

Olamide Zaccheaus: 66

Tajae Sharp: 63

Kyle Pitts: 54

Mike Davis: 50

Cordarrelle Patterson: 46

Hayden Hurst: 43

Lee Smith: 34

Christian Blake: 16

Keith Smith: 14

Wayne Gallman: 3

Jason Spriggs: 1


The continued time as a cohesive unit appears to be working wonders for this offensive line, which has had its hiccups but is getting sharper as the weeks roll on. The Falcons rolling with and sticking with Jalen Mayfield and Matt Hennessy is bearing fruit, with both players still having plenty of room for improvement but also looking like they can be capable starters in this league. With Kaleb McGary also apparently making strides against a genuinely tough set of matchups over the first five weeks, I feel much better about the line than I did a short time ago, even if I know it won’t all be roses going forward.

The pecking order at receiver is pretty evident at this point, with Zaccheaus and Sharpe showing they’re the team’s 3rd and 4th options and can expect work even when Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage are back and healthy. Blake gets some run as well and Ryan looked for a him a few times, but OZ’s speed and Sharpe’s reliability are endearing them to #2 even if Zaccheaus had a couple of drops again this week. Frank Darby is going to be mothballed for a while yet if he couldn’t even get on the field in this situation, but as the weeks wear on he may be able to join his fellow rookies in carving out a role.

It was interesting to see Patterson and Davis get close to an even split in terms of snaps on a week where both were effective, though circumstance likely drove an increase for Patterson. The duo combined for 107 yards on the ground and 68 yards through the air (8 for Davis), and minus the Davis fumble were an effective pair. Wayne Gallman faded back to the background this week with both backs rolling.

Finally, the absence of Ridley and Gage drove a larger share of snaps for Hurst and Smith, who combined for 7 grabs for 70 yards and a touchdown, though Hurst’s fumbles were troubling. This offense works pretty well with multiple tight ends and Smith is proving to be a game pass catcher as well as a willing blocker, and I think the heavy usage for three tight ends is going to remain a significant piece of the gameplan going forward.

Defense

Duron Harmon: 56

Jaylinn Hawkins: 56

A.J. Terrell: 56

Foye Oluokun: 56

Deion Jones: 56

Grady Jarrett: 44

Steven Means: 40

Fabian Moreau: 37

Ade Ogundeji: 30

Richie Grant: 28

Tyeler Davison: 28

Dante Fowler: 25

Ta’Quon Graham: 21

Jon Bullard: 18

Darren Hall: 17

Brandon Copeland: 16

Chris Williamson: 13

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 8

T.J. Green: 6

Mike Pennel: 5


Ogundeji is maybe the headliner here. His snap count share rose above 33% for the first time all year, as he logged 54% of the defensive snaps with a sack, tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. He surprised a bit over the summer by taking first-team snaps in practice and preseason, and we’re seeing that the faith the team showed in him is both real and warranted. His role is only going to grow if he can deliver as a pass rusher.

Or maybe Richie Grant is the headliner. The rookie had only six snaps on defense coming into yesterday, but he stepped in and played half the defensive snaps and managed a nice run stop and a pass breakup yesterday, seemingly taking dynamite to the notion that he wasn’t ready to play.

Better yet, maybe it’s Jaylinn Hawkins, who played every defensive snap with Erik Harris out, got the team’s first interception of the season and played really well in that starting role.

The nice thing about any of those guys—hell, even Jacob Tuioti-Mariner getting a fantastic effort sack on just 8 snaps, or Darren Hall holding his own in his first real game action—is that these are all young defenders the Falcons may soon want to count on as starters, or at least top reserves. Getting them into expanded roles and playing well, even if it was more or less by necessity, is a big-time win for this team in a year where everything is sort of in flux and happening with an eye on building a viable contender over the long haul. I hope even if guys get healthy that we’re not just going to see Grant, Hawkins and Hall shoved back into the closet.

One note? I’d love to see more Tuioti-Mariner, who has two sacks despite some very limited opportunities and still looks like one of the team’s better pass rushers.

Special Teams

Dorian Etheridge: 16

Christian Blake: 16

Ade Ogundeji: 16

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 15

Mykal Walker: 15

Keith Smith: 15

T.J. Green: 13

Darren Hall: 12

Richie Grant: 10

Younghoe Koo: 10

Duron Harmon: 8

Frank Darby: 8

Dustin Colquitt: 7

Kendall Sheffield: 7

Josh Harris: 7

Steven Means: 7

Jaylinn Hawkins: 6

Brandon Copeland: 6

Chris Lindstrom: 5

Jalen Mayfield: 5

Jake Matthews: 5

Kaleb McGary: 5

Olamide Zaccheaus: 5

Cordarrelle Patterson: 5

Jason Spriggs: 5

Lee Smith: 5

Wayne Gallman: 4

A.J. Terrell: 3

Mike Pennel: 3

Ta’Quon Graham: 3

Jon Bullard: 3

Foye Oluokun: 1

Mike Davis: 1

Lee Smith: 1

Tajae Sharpe: 1


Kick return coverage has been a challenge the past couple of weeks, to put it mildly. This time around, almost everyone was blocked out of the play on Tevin Coleman’s 65 yard return except for Darren Hall, who put together a heroic effort to push Coleman out of bounds before he could take it to the house. Hall gets major props for that, especially since it was only his second game of the season, but the Falcons probably should do whatever it takes to avoid any more massive breakdowns on kickoffs to start the second half of any more games.

It was interesting to see the Falcons ease Sheffield back in purely on special teams, as his activation off of injured reserve made me think we might see him a bit at cornerback in this one with multiple players missing. That will likely come to pass in the weeks ahead as Sheffield gets comfortable, but with rookies playing well, it wasn’t the case against the Jets.

The most interesting note of the week here is that Olamide Zaccheaus handled punt returns with Avery Williams out and looked pretty good doing so, so he’ll definitely handle them if Williams misses any more time.