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Falcons snap counts from a loss to the Saints

Troy Andersen and Desmond Ridder move into the starting lineup.

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NFL: NOV 10 Falcons at Panthers Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The bye week was a bit of a beacon. The hope was that the Falcons would be able to use the time to find a way to look better and more competitive over the their final four games, regardless of win total, and end the year on a high note.

That didn’t really happen. Desmond Ridder’s first effort was a deeply uneven one as the passing game sputtered again, and lineup tweaks on defense didn’t lead to any major improvements, though the pass rush actually got home a couple of times this go-around. It was, as I wrote yesterday, more of the same for an offense and defense that just aren’t quite good enough to get the job done.

That said, there were lineup changes to be considered, and ones that weren’t made that are worth stumping for. Let’s check the snap counts to see the changes.


Desmond Ridder: 73

Jake Matthews: 73

Elijah Wilkinson: 73

Drew Dalman: 73

Chris Lindstrom: 73

Kaleb McGary: 73

Olamide Zaccheaus: 60

Drake London: 60

Parker Hesse: 42

MyCole Pruitt: 41

Cordarrelle Patterson: 37

Tyler Allgeier: 36

Damiere Byrd: 30

Anthony Firkser: 23

KhaDarel Hodge: 13

Keith Smith: 11

Avery Williams: 10

Feleipe Franks: 4

Caleb Huntley: 2

Germain Ifedi: 1

The big change here was at quarterback, where Marcus Mariota is off to injured reserve and Desmond Ridder took over. The rookie played every snap and drew praise from teammates and coaches for his poise and how well he operated the offense, an Arthur Smith focus, but his day was obviously not very good in terms of actual results. Ridder missed several throws outright, took a sack he shouldn’t have and ran out of bounds when he really couldn’t to end the game, and generally looked every bit like a rookie quarterback who needs a lot of work. The big question for Atlanta is how much the results mattered versus the process and command, and perhaps even more crucial is the question of where he’ll go from here.

Ridder’s rapport with London was obvious, but every other receiving option was a bit of an open question mark. The Falcons gave Damiere Byrd his third-highest snap total of the season, perhaps keying on his preseason success with Ridder, but he didn’t get looks on Sunday. The Falcons will have to try to do a better job of getting him layups, but Jared Bernhardt (his true preseason best friend) is on injured reserve and Frank Darby is not exactly going to ride to the rescue here. You’re seeing the group of receiving options and tight ends the team has to work with, and the Falcons have to find a way to get them more involved and get Ridder settled in and making throws to them.

The only other major note from Sunday is that Caleb Huntley actually came out early, potentially signalling a larger role for the dynamic young back, but he was forced out with a season-ending injury very early on. Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson will effectively split carries the rest of the way, with Avery Williams potentially mixing in as a third down option. Fortunately, that’s a great duo atop the depth chart, but the loss of the hard-charging Huntley still hurts.


Richie Grant: 55

Jaylinn Hawkins: 55

A.J. Terrell: 55

Rashaan Evans: 55

Darren Hall: 48

Lorenzo Carter: 47

Troy Andersen: 45

Grady Jarrett: 41

Abdullah Anderson: 35

Adeotkunbo Ogundeji: 35

Timothy Horne: 33

Arnold Ebiketie: 20

Jalen Dalton: 18

Isaiah Oliver: 15

Jaleel Johnson: 14

Mykal Walker: 13

DeAngelo Malone: 8

Cornell Armstrong: 7

Dee Alford: 6

The big news here is that Troy Andersen effectively replaced Mykal Walker as the starter. It was a very uneven game for Andersen, who at times was playing far more tentatively than a player of his ability needs to, but it’s probably safe to say that the Falcons are hellbent on getting him as much time as possible to prove himself over the final few games. What that means for Walker’s future is uncertain, as we don’t know if the team will bring back Evans to pair with Andersen, elevate Walker next to Andersen, or go in a different direction entirely.

The lack of playing time for Alford continues to frustrate me, as he does nothing but make plays in his very limited opportunities. On Sunday, he played just six snaps but had a couple of big moments in coverage and a forced incompletion, and I have to think it would behoove the team to take a longer look at a player they can have under contract very affordably next year in a very unsettled position group.

We’re also left to wonder if Ebiketie was dealing with his injury and that’s why he was limited, because it’s striking how few snaps a player with real talent and pass rushing ability got against the Saints. The Falcons are cobbling together their defensive line rotation with heavy snaps for Abdullah Anderson and Timothy Horne, which feels just given that both players might be significant reserve pieces next year, but at outside linebacker it’s hard to believe that Ebiketie wouldn’t have delivered more production with more snaps on a day the team really needed it. Hell, Malone made plays in his limited opportunities, too.

There are only a few levers this team can pull over the final few games to slow down opposing offenses, so I’m not expecting any more big shakeups. I do think we need to see as much of Ebiketie as we possibly can, and more snaps for Alford and Malone would be welcome, too.

Special Teams

Mike Ford: 20

Erik Harris: 20

Nick Kwiatkoski: 19

KhaDarel Hodge: 17

DeAngelo Malone: 15

Avery Williams: 15

Keith Smith: 14

Richie Grant: 12

Feleipe Franks: 12

Parker Hesse: 11

Bradley Pinion: 11

Troy Andersen: 9

Cornell Armstrong: 8

Isaiah Oliver: 7

Liam McCullough: 7

MyCole Pruitt: 6

Jaylinn Hawkins: 5

Lorenzo Carter: 4

Cordarrelle Patterson: 4

Abdullah Anderson: 3

Adeotkunbo Ogundeji: 3

Timothy Horne: 3

Jaleel Johnson: 3

Jake Matthews: 2

Kaleb McGary: 2

Chris Lindstrom: 2

Germain Ifedi: 2

Ryan Neuzil: 2

Younghoe Koo: 2

Colby Gossett: 2