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Falcons snap counts and notes from a Week 3 win

How did the Falcons divvy up playing time, and what mattered on Sunday?

Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Falcons won, and along the way, they gave us a few interesting notes for this week’s snap counts. A true win-win for us all.

Today, we’ll talk Feleipe Franks being active and getting time at tight end, Jaylinn Hawkins stepping in a larger role, and what it means that Lee Smith outsnapped and out-touched Hayden Hurst this week. Let’s get to it.

Offense

Matt Ryan: 62

Jake Matthews: 62

Jalen Mayfield: 62

Matt Hennessy: 62

Chris Lindstrom: 62

Kaleb McGary: 62

Calvin Ridley: 59

Kyle Pitts: 52

Olamide Zaccheaus: 43

Mike Davis: 37

Cordarrelle Patterson: 26

Lee Smith: 26

Hayden Hurst: 24

Keith Smith: 22

Tajae Sharpe: 15

Feleipe Franks: 3

Jason Spriggs: 3


A few worthwhile notes from this list, but let’s start with the fun one.

The Falcons somewhat mysteriously activated Feleipe Franks for this one, and it was a very limited look at tight end and wildcat quarterback over the course of three snaps. That didn’t exactly set the world on fire—Matt Ryan did not catch a 50 yard touchdown pass from Franks, sadly—but it’s likely a clue as to why the team is keeping Franks around and what they think they can do with him. I’d view that amusing little three snap audition as a Chekhov’s gun for the rest of the season, with Franks potentially taking on a slightly larger role as time goes on as a do-it-all option for the offense owing to his size, speed and big arm. Am I reading too much into this? Almost certainly. Will I remind you of this on the off chance I’m right? You bet.

Speaking of tight end, it’s also noteworthy that Hurst took a backseat to Lee Smith in this one. Hurst had 60% of the offensive snaps in Week 1, but has since hovered around 40%. Smith was at 30% in Week 1, 18% in Week 2 and was all the way up to 42% in this one, and he also got more targets (3) than Hurst (1) and came up with three grabs for 7 yards and a touchdown, while Hurst went catchless. This could just be a one week aberration, but Hurst’s role on offense has been smaller than expected and Smith’s has been far larger than expected thus far.

The Patterson/Davis split continues to be worth watching, as well, as the team has mothballed Wayne Gallman and is rolling with the duo. Davis’s snaps have slowly but steadily dwindled, but it hasn’t impacted his workload at all, and he continues to fight through contact and at turn 2 yard runs into 3 yard runs. It’s only a matter of time until he has better weeks with the offensive line picking up steam. Patterson’s snaps have stayed very steady, and while he once again wasn’t much of a factor on the ground, he remains perhaps Atlanta’s most lethal receiving threat and a key weapon on offense. The duo has accounted for about half of the team’s yards thus far, and given that they’ve been pretty effective, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Finally, this was an encouraging performance for Jalen Mayfield, who took his lumps in the first two weeks and fared better against the Giants. If he keeps up that progress against the Football Team and the Jets, he’ll probably fend off Josh Andrews for the starting job the rest of the way. That would be ideal for the team, which has needed a long-term starter at left guard for a long time and would love for it to be Mayfield if he can play up to it.

Defense

Erik Harris: 70

T.J. Green: 70

Foye Oluokun: 70

Fabian Moreau: 70

Deion Jones: 68

Isaiah Oliver: 57

Steven Means: 53

Dante Fowler: 48

Duron Harmon: 48

Tyeler Davison: 41

Jaylinn Hawkins: 23

Age Ogundeji: 22

Jon Bullard: 22

Ta’Quon Graham: 16

Marlon Davidson: 15

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 12

Mykal Walker: 5

Brandon Copeland: 4

Avery Williams: 3


T.J. Green wasn’t great, but considering he played every single snap in this one I thought he put together an admirable performance. Certainly the Falcons’ faith in him being able to step in and not kill the defense appears to be justified, and if there are injuries down the line he’ll likely continue to be the first man up, especially while Kendall Sheffield works his way back.

Hawkins has been the third safety, but that hasn’t led to any sort of significant role to this point. In this game, though, Hawkins sliced into Harmon’s snaps more sharply and had a solid game. It’s not crazy to think that we might see even more Hawkins as the season wears on and the Falcons presumably start thinking about next year and beyond, because Harmon hasn’t knocked anyone’s socks off yet and Hawkins is under contract affordably for the next couple of years. If he can be even a competent starter, it’s a route the Falcons might want to go.

It has been great to see the Falcons easing Ta’Quon Graham into the rotation, and they’re comfortable enough with his play that John Cominsky has been inactive in back-to-back weeks. Graham has been legitimately impressive in his limited snaps and should be able to seize a larger role as time goes on and the coaching staff gets more comfortable with him, because he’s earning a bigger opportunity.

Steven Means continues to pull down significant snaps, and his snap percentage actually went up slightly from a week ago. As Aaron Freeman said on his Monday podcast, Means is a fine player who has not excelled in coverage to this point, and it would be nice to see him either asked to do less of it or taken off the field in favor of someone like Age Ogundeji who might be able to fare better at it. Dean Pees’ trust in Means is evident, though, and he’ll likely continue to dominate the snaps opposite Dante Fowler until Ogundeji or Brandon Copeland forces the issue.

Finally, a note for the future. Tyeler Davison continues to get plenty of work, but the recent additions of both Mike Pennel and Anthony Rush to the practice squad makes me suspect one of those players could be flexed to the roster and take snaps at nose tackle from him in the near future. The Atlanta run defense has been solid but not spectacular, and the Falcons spent all offseason and have now spent the early weeks of the season evaluating some very large lads along the defensive line, and I don’t think Davison will wind up playing 60% of the snaps on a weekly basis all year long.

Special Teams

Jaylinn Hawkins: 20

Avery Williams: 20

Richie Grant: 19

Keith Smith: 17

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner: 17

Mykal Walker: 15

Dorian Etheridge: 13

Cameron Nizialek: 12

Erik Harris: 10

Age Ogundeji: 10

Brandon Copeland: 10

Christian Blake: 10

Josh Harris: 9

Isaiah Oliver: 9

Steven Means: 7

Cordarrelle Patterson: 7

Darren Hall: 6

Drew Dalman: 3

Younghoe Koo: 3

Lee Smith: 3

Hayden Hurst: 3

Chris Lindstrom: 3

Jake Matthews: 3

Kaleb McGary: 3

Jalen Mayfield: 3

Jason Spriggs: 3

Fabian Moreau: 3

Ta’Quon Graham: 3

Jon Bullard: 2

Marlon Davidson: 2

Foye Oluokun: 1

T.J. Green: 1

Deion Jones: 1

Grady Jarrett: 1

Dante Fowler: 1


No real surprises here, especially when it came time for Younghoe Koo to nail a game winner, which he did. The Falcons are extremely comfortable with Richie Grant on special teams, as he’s consistently leading or close to leading the team in snaps there, but frustratingly he hasn’t really gotten a shot on defense yet. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks.

Avery Williams continues to dominate snaps and do excellent work on special teams, as he’s proven to be a savvy punt returner right out of the gate. In this one, he had multiple quality returns and it’s only a matter of time until he breaks a long one.

Cameron Nizialek, meanwhile, bounced back from a rough effort against the Bucs that saw him shank two punts and put together a very crisp game. The hope is that he’ll build on that to continue to improve his kickoffs and punting placement to help this team win the field position battle, which continues to be critical with the defense actually making some stops and the offense...well, you know.