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Falcons snap counts for a tough loss to the Washington Football Team

Atlanta’s loss carries a few interesting notes in terms of playing time.

Washington Football Team v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

That managed to both be a very fun game and a deeply disappointing game. Atlanta’s offense showed up, the defense only showed up occasionally, and the rare long punt return touchdown rubbed some salt on our wounds.

We learned plenty about this team, but what can we learn from how the team divvied up its playing time? This week’s notes include the arrival of Wayne Gallman, who took over for Isaiah Oliver, and

Let’s talk snap counts.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 76 (100%)

Jake Matthews: 76

Jalen Mayfield: 76

Matt Hennessy: 76

Chris Lindstrom: 76

Kaleb McGary: 76

Calvin Ridley: 73

Olamide Zaccheaus: 61

Kyle Pitts: 55

Mike Davis: 51

Hayden Hurst: 49

Cordarrelle Patterson: 23

Tajae Sharpe: 21

Lee Smith: 17

Keith Smith: 16

Wayne Gallman: 10

Christian Blake: 3

Feleipe Franks: 1


Maybe the biggest news here is Wayne Gallman’s elevation to the active roster. After spending the first three weeks in mothballs, Gallman got in the game for 10 snaps, and critically he either had a carry (6) or a target (1) on seven of those snaps and managed 29 yards. He looked good as a runner, and will likely only get more involved in the weeks ahead if that remains true. Atlanta’s inability to get Mike Davis going isn’t really Davis’s fault, as I’ve written, but it is going to leave the door open for more Cordarrelle Patterson and Gallman.

Patterson continues to cruise on roughly a third of the offensive snaps and is getting a touch on half of those, at least this week, and it’s translating to bonkers production. Until teams start prioritizing stopping him, the Falcons will continue to push him as a featured weapon for anywhere from 10-15 touches per game, and he remains incredibly dangerous in that role. Atlanta seems unlikely to suddenly turn him into a player taking on 50 snaps per game like Davis, who is called upon to block and take the tough up-the-middle carries in this offense, but defenses have been entirely unable to stop him in his current role.

Similarly, we have a good idea of the pecking order at receiver now. Frank Darby may be able to push his way into a role but won’t right away after missing the first three weeks, and Zaccheaus will continue to have the largest role behind Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage when they’re both on the field. Tajae Sharpe is the de facto fourth receiver, with Christian Blake taking on a smaller role and becoming one of Marquice Williams’ more leaned-upon special teamers.

I’m as eager as anybody to see how this Franks thing plays out, but it felt like a waste having him active and playing just three snaps considering the defense struggled mightily. I’d expect the team to continue to use him in this way, though, with his role slowly and gradually expanding over time. The bigger issue is that like Taysom Hill in his early days, he’ll probably need to contribute more on special teams to warrant having such a small role on offense.

Finally, it was nice to see that Hayden Hurst’s falling snap counts the past two weeks were not indicative of a long-term trend. While he still wasn’t a major part of the passing game for most of the afternoon, Hurst did reel in 4 grabs for 29 yards and was a factor over the middle of the field. Especially if Russell Gage is going to be out for this coming weekend, I’d like to see more Hurst.

Defense

A.J. Terrell: 67 (100%)

Foye Oluokun: 67

Deion Jones: 67

Fabian Moreau: 63

Duron Harmon: 60

Erik Harris: 58

Steven Means: 55

Grady Jarrett: 53

Dante Fowler: 52

Avery Williams: 50

Tyeler Davison: 30

Ta’Quon Graham: 28

Jon Bullard: 25

Jaylinn Hawkins: 16

Ade Ogundeji: 16

Brandon Copeland: 11

Isaiah Oliver: 11

Mykal Walker: 4

T.J. Green: 4


The injury to Isaiah Oliver forced Avery Williams into the lineup, and it’s interesting to see that Williams is rolling ahead of Darren Hall at the moment for that role. Williams did not have a great effort in coverage in this one, but considering he was pressed into action and had to play a major role for this defense, I thought he did pretty well. His future with this team appears bright on multiple fronts, as he’s continuing to be a quality returner as well. If Oliver has to miss significant time—and we really hope that’s not the case—you have to wonder if Williams slides into that role permanently.

Graham continues to pick up snaps, and while this wasn’t his finest effort of the young season, it’s readily apparent that he’s going to be a major piece of the defensive line rotation going forward. His promise is considerable his playing time is welcome.

The outside linebacker rotation continues to be one of the more tough-to-figure-out things on the roster. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner was inactive in favor of John Cominsky, who did not even play on defense, and Ogundeji and Copeland continue to receive relatively modest snap counts despite Steven Means not exactly setting the world on fire as a nearly full-time starter. I expect that to change at some point—the Falcons are talking about Ogundeji like he’s going to be a core player in the near future—but for now Atlanta has a couple of useful, young players who are part-time contributors at best.

Hawkins continues to rotate in for Harmon a bit at safety, but Richie Grant is still not seeing the field, even after an injury to Erik Harris late in this one. If Harris is going to miss any time, that more or less has to change, though I suspect the Falcons might be tempted to lean on T.J. Green first.

Otherwise, there aren’t many surprises here.

Special Teams

Avery Williams: 23

Jaylinn Hawkins: 23

Richie Grant: 23

Mykal Walker: 21

Keith Smith: 19

Dorian Etheridge: 19

Ade Ogundeji: 17

Christian Blake: 16

John Cominsky: 14

T.J. Green: 12

Brandon Copeland: 11

Cameron Nizialek: 11

Cordarrelle Patterson: 9

Josh Harris: 8

Younghoe Koo: 7

Wayne Gallman: 7

Steven Means: 6

Jake Matthews: 4

Jason Spriggs: 4

Jalen Mayfield: 4

Chris Lindstrom: 4

Kaleb McGary: 4

Lee Smith: 4

Fabian Moreau: 4

Ta’Quon Graham: 4

Jon Bullard: 4

Isaiah Oliver: 3

Erik Harris: 3

Duron Harmon: 2

Feleipe Franks: 2

A.J. Terrell: 1


The injury to Cameron Nizialek is going to give this job to Dustin Colquitt, at least for the short term. We have no idea how long his injury is expected to keep him out, but we’re hoping for a speedy recovery. Nizialek’s kickoffs were shallow in this one, which helped give DeAndre Carter a shot at his long return, but he’s fared well as a punter the past two weeks and it would be a shame if his season ended here. Younghoe Koo had to handle punting duties in the interim, and he actually had a solid effort on his second punt. I hope he doesn’t have to do it that ever again, but it’s good to know he can do it.

The only other major note here is that John Cominsky was active solely to play special teams, and he did take on a significant number of snaps. Hopefully he’ll earn his way back into a role on defense along the way.