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Falcons snap counts and notes for a weird and wild Buccaneers loss

Atlanta got better performances out of the team this time out, but who was doing the performing?

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

How do you solve a problem like the Falcons? If you’re the Falcons themselves, you grit your teeth and keep going, at least through the early part of your schedule.

We now have two weeks showing us how they’re employing their personnel, at least at a high level, and there’s no been no talk of major lineup shakeups after an 0-2 start. This team may well move on to a different punter and Josh Andrews may find himself in the lineup at left guard when he’s back, but otherwise the Falcons are giving every indication they’ll sink or swim with who they have out there. The most significant changes this week were a brief benching for Duron Harmon and swapping out John Cominsky for rookie Ta’Quon Graham, though injury forced some adjustments at wide receiver and cornerback. Atlanta is clearly hoping that with time and effort, they’ll tamp down on the sloppiness, see genuine improvement from struggling players like Duron Harmon, Erik Harris, Jalen Mayfield and Kaleb McGary, and get this thing pointed in the right direction.

I’m not expecting a team that has stressed thinking for the long-term to start making sweeping lineup changes, in other words. I do think that we’ll continue to see adjustments and tweaks to playing time to try to get more out of this team, and I would very much like to see Atlanta consider pushing Richie Grant in particular into the starting lineup in the near future.

Here are the full snap counts.

Offense

Jake Matthews: 72

Jalen Mayfield: 72

Matt Hennessy: 72

Chris Lindstrom: 72

Kaleb McGary: 72

Matt Ryan: 66

Calvin Ridley: 60

Kyle Pitts: 57

Mike Davis: 46

Olamide Zaccheaus: 42

Russell Gage: 38

Hayden Hurst: 30

Cordarrelle Patterson: 24

Keith Smith: 18

Lee Smith: 13

Christian Blake: 13

Tajae Sharpe: 13

Parker Hesse: 6

Josh Rosen: 6


With Russell Gage gutting through an injury and exiting the game multiple times, it’s we saw a little more Tajae Sharpe and Christian Blake, as well as a lot more Olamide Zaccheaus. If Gage can’t go next week, I’d expect OZ to fill be the primary person filling his role, and the team might be best-suited ensuring Gage is totally healthy because it’s tough for him to be a major factor when he’s not. The Falcons need someone else to step up, whoever it may be, because right now Calvin Ridley is the only receiver doing much of anything.

The split at running back continues to be significant in terms of snaps, but when Patterson is in the game you can be reasonably confident he’s going to get the ball. He received 13 touches on 24 snaps yesterday compared to 16 touches on 46 snaps for Davis, who is being utilized as a blocker plenty when he’s not powering into defenders and catching short passes. This is a true two-man backfield, either way, and while Patterson’s role still has some room to grow he’s probably not going to suddenly start splitting snaps with Davis.

This is the first time in a game situation, preseason or regular season, that we’ve seen the entire starting offensive line play the entire game together, and it was an improvement even if it wasn’t a particularly satisfying one. I felt like Mayfield was better, Hennessy and McGary were mixed bags, and Lindstrom was quite good. It’s fair to be disappointed with the lack of time Matt Ryan had in the pocket and the way line play has conspired with play calling to make this offense inconsistent, but progress is also an important thing to recognize. While the return of Josh Andrews might push Mayfield to the bench, the path to replacing Hennessy and McGary if they continue to struggle is more difficult to see, given that Drew Dalman and Jason Spriggs don’t appear to be likely upgrades on paper. If Matt Gono can get back this season, there’s a better-than-decent chance he’ll step in for McGary, but right now the Falcons are just going to have to keep taking their lumps and hope things get better.

It doesn’t mean much but this is the second time we’ve seen Josh Rosen get into a game late for Matt Ryan when things are clearly out of hand, and it appears that’s something we’ll see any time the Falcons get blown off the field. Feleipe Franks hanging around given that he’s obviously the #3 quarterback would seem to indicate that the staff is still high on him, though.

Defense

Deion Jones: 63

Foye Oluokun: 63

Fabian Moreau: 62

Erik Harris: 56

Duron Harmon: 54

Steven Means: 47

Dante Fowler: 45

A.J. Terrell: 44

Grady Jarrett: 43

Isaiah Oliver: 39

Tyeler Davison: 34

Jon Bullard: 32

Marlon Davidson: 23

Ade Ogundeji: 21

T.J. Green: 20

Jaylinn Hawkins: 16

Ta’Quon Graham: 13

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 11

Mykal Walker: 5

Brandon Copeland: 2


There were a few changes this week, some sparked by injury and others just a part of the gameplan.

The first note is that the rotation up front looked tweaked this week. Steven Means saw his snaps reduced a bit, though not significantly, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner had his snaps more than cut in half. Jon Bullard received more run and had a solid day, while Ta’Quon Graham stepped in to John Cominsky’s snaps and a few more and really showed he can be a contributor. The wow moments will be few and far between for him and Ade Ogundeji, but the fact that they’re getting legitimate playing time in year one is great for their development and a positive sign overall.

One major change came because of injury. Terrell exited the game and couldn’t return owing to a concussion, and the Falcons turned to T.J. Green in his stead. This was an absolute no-win situation for Green, who drew Mike Evans multiple times with the expected results that would imply, but it’s also clear that the Falcons will probably trot him out there as a starter if Terrell’s out and they don’t make any additions. The sledding is a bit easier against the Giants, but they’re going to test Green early and often and he’ll need to put up the performance of his career and then some to come out of the game relatively unscathed. We’ll look for Terrell injury news this week and hope for the best.

Finally, Duron Harmon was briefly benched, presumably for blown coverage on Gronk on the Bucs’ opening drive. Everybody got beaten on that drive, but Harmon appears to have gotten a message others didn’t, and Jaylinn Hawkins was his replacement. Harmon came back into the game but safety play was not a big strength for Atlanta on Sunday, and it’s fair to wonder if we’ll see more of Hawkins and any of Richie Grant as the season wears on.

Special Teams

Jaylinn Hawkins: 27

Mykal Walker: 27

Richie Grant: 27

Avery Williams: 21

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 20

Dorian Etheridge: 19

Keith Smith: 19

Isaiah Oliver: 15

Ade Ogundeji: 15

Brandon Copeland: 12

Cordarrelle Patterson: 11

Cam Nizialek: 11

Olamide Zaccheaus: 8

Parker Hesse: 8

Erik Harris: 8

Steven Means: 8

Fabian Moreau: 7

Josh Harris: 7

Jon Bullard: 7

Ta’Quon Graham: 7

Marlon Davidson: 7

T.J. Green: 6

Hayden Hurst: 3

A.J. Terrell: 3

Lee Smith: 3

Christian Blake: 3

Jake Matthews: 3

Chris Lindstrom: 3

Jalen Mayfield: 3

Kaleb McGary: 3

Jason Spriggs: 3

Drew Dalman: 3

Younghoe Koo: 3


Unfortunately for Nizialek, his two shanked punts were a being story line coming out of this game, even though Arthur Smith made it clear that they never should’ve needed him on the field in the first place. The team will work out punters, and we’ll see if he gets another shot or not soon enough.

The Buccaneers tried to avoid Patterson in kick return scenarios, which led to a larger workload for Avery Williams. The surface level numbers aren’t impressive, but Williams had one nice return called back owing to a block in the back penalty and is clearly a capable kick and punt returner. If teams want to avoid Patterson going forward, eventually Williams will make them pay for it.

Snaps shook out about how you’d expect them to, with a clear handful of guys Marquice Williams truly trusts, and that’s unlikely to change. One thing to watch is Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant, both of whom have major roles on teams but really should be getting some run on defense. That’s especially true of Grant, a second round pick on a team with a couple of scuffling veteran safeties who are currently starting. We’ll see if that changes and who picks up the slack for Williams if those two actually get run on defense.