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Falcons snap counts for the ultimate assault on your senses against the Patriots

What can we glean from these snap counts?

New England Patriots Vs. Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Snap counts! They are worth looking at even when virtually nothing from the game they correspond to was worth watching.

Offense

Jake Matthews: 54

Jalen Mayfield: 54

Matt Hennessy: 54

Chris Lindstrom: 54

Kaleb McGary: 54

Matt Ryan: 50

Kyle Pitts: 44

Russell Gage: 40

Tajae Sharpe: 37

Qadree Ollison: 26

Mike Davis: 26

Olamide Zaccheaus: 25

Lee Smith: 22

Keith Smith: 19

Marvin Hall: 12

Parker Hesse: 11

Frank Darby: 6

Josh Rosen: 3

Wayne Gallman: 2

Feleipe Franks: 1


Nothing good to point out here, honestly.

The offensive line has been in freefall the past couple of weeks against tough opponents, making you wonder if the progress they appeared to show early in the year is illusory or just incomplete. I can’t imagine the team shaking things up this late in the year unless it’s to insert Matt Gono into the lineup when he returns, but if this line can’t block effectively for their running backs and they can’t protect Matt Ryan, the status quo feels untenable unless the team is ready to throw in the towel on the year. Judging by their rhetoric, at least, they’re not.

Qadree Ollison getting the same number of snaps as Mike Davis and more touches qualifies as a surprise, and the duo relegated Wayne Gallman to two snaps. This running back group is impossible to figure out on a weekly basis, but Davis is going to continue to get work as a receiver and blocker even if he’s not toting the ball. Whether Ollison showed enough on a pair of impressive carries to earn a promotion to the roster remains to be seen, but I’m rooting for him.

As anticipated, the Falcons couldn’t gin up much of a passing game in this one as Ryan scuffled, the line collapsed regularly, and the team had trouble getting much of anyone open on a consistent basis. The Patriots took away Pitts for most of the game and the team’s trio of “starting” receivers (Gage, Sharpe and Zaccheaus) combined for 10 catches and 93 yards. All three are capable supporting pieces of a high-powered passing offense but haven’t been able to function as the primary receivers for a scuffling one, which is not exactly a shock. I would like to see a bit more of Frank Darby, even though I’m not holding my breath for him to be a huge difference maker.

Feleipe Franks got one snap and threw an interception. That man is deeply cursed.

Defense

Duron Harmon: 64

Fabian Moreau: 64

A.J. Terrell: 62

Deion Jones: 62

Foye Oluokun: 62

Erik Harris: 59

Grady Jarrett: 43

Dante Fowler: 38

Brandon Copeland: 34

Mike Pennel: 33

Anthony Rush: 30

James Vaughters: 28

Ade Ogundeji: 27

Ta’Quon Graham: 27

Richie Grant: 24

Jon Bullard: 21

Darren Hall: 14

Mykal Walker: 6

Shawn Williams: 5

Emmanuel Ellerbee: 2


Something clicked this week. The Patriots managed 308 yards, but they had the ball for a full five minutes more than the hapless Falcons and managed to hold the Patriots to 25 points (13 in the first three quarters) despite it being an entirely one-sided effort.

I would point to Dean Pees seemingly reaching deep into his bag and cooking up a few effective plays and especially blitzes, but the Falcons also seem to have found useful players in Mike Pennel and Anthony Rush, as well as finding significant roles for Jon Bullard and rookie Ta’Quon Graham. The result up front was uneven—it’s always uneven—but it’s a group that is managing some nice run stops in between the chaos.

Vaughters continues to pull down significant time in the outside linebacker rotation, with he and Brandon Copeland becoming more prominent pieces of the puzzle there by the week as Ogundeji’s playing time decreases a little bit. None of them are delivering consistent success as pass rushers and Ogundeji’s development ought to be the priority, but Vaughters has at least had his moments.

It was nice to see rookies get run in the secondary, too. Darren Hall now has had strong moments in every game he’s been in on special teams and defense and is a player the Falcons need to maintain a role for, while Richie Grant struggled a bit but remains a player Atlanta needs to build around and must continue to find playing time for.

The most important thing the Falcons can do this year is head into 2022 with a better sense of who will be contributing for them in the future. If Ogundeji, Hall, Grant and Graham wind up all being contributors and at least two of those guys wind up being legitimate starters, it makes what currently looks like a daunting defensive rebuild a little easier and more straightforward. In the meantime, they might just play better defense, as they did against New England.

Special Teams

Richie Grant: 22

Mykal Walker: 22

Brandon Copeland: 17

Shawn Williams: 17

Avery Williams: 17

Keith Smith: 16

Olamide Zaccheaus: 15

Ade Ogundeji: 15

Frank Darby: 12

Emmanuel Ellerbee: 11

Feleipe Franks: 8

James Vaughters: 7

Dustin Colquitt: 7

Josh Harris: 7

A.J. Terrell: 6

Parker Hesse: 6

Anthony Rush: 6

Ta’Quon Graham: 6

Duron Harmon: 5

Qadree Ollison: 5

Darren Hall: 5

Jon Bullard: 4

Chris Williamson: 4

Younghoe Koo: 3

Colby Gossett: 2

Drew Dalman: 2

Jason Spriggs: 2

Chris Lindstrom: 2

Jake Matthews: 2

Jalen Mayfield: 2

Kaleb McGary: 2

Lee Smith: 2

Grady Jarrett: 2

Erik Harris: 1

Marvin Hall: 1

Wayne Gallman: 1


A couple of interesting observations here. The first is that Avery Williams stepped right into the kick returner role with Cordarrelle Patterson out and looked pretty dangerous doing it, even though the blocking didn’t cooperate for him. Williams had his role entirely phased out on defense this week after a tough game against Dallas, which may have been so he could focus on returning but may also have just been to give Richie Grant and Darren Hall more run. I’m legitimately looking forward to seeing what Williams can do with both returner roles in 2022.

The second observation is that the team is quietly finding more special teams snaps for Feleipe Franks, who remains my favorite enigma of the 2021 season. Where is all this going? We’ll see.