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Falcons snap counts from the loss to the Commanders

What did we learn from the snap counts? Things are in flux.

NFL: OCT 15 Commanders at Falcons Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons are figuring things out in their receiver group, trotting out a new face or two every week in the defensive line rotation, and had a rare lapse on special teams on Sunday. What do the snap counts tell us about that?

Maybe something, maybe nothing. We’re gonna say the former.


Desmond Ridder: 83

Jake Matthews: 83

Matthew Bergeron: 83

Drew Dalman: 83

Chris Lindstrom: 83

Kaleb McGary: 83

Drake London: 68

Bijan Robinson: 64

Kyle Pitts: 46

Jonnu Smith: 45

MyCole Pruitt: 32

KhaDarel Hodge: 29

Mack Hollins: 28

Scotty Miller: 28

Tyler Allgeier: 23

Van Jefferson: 22

Keith Smith: 16

Cordarrelle Patterson: 10

Ryan Neuzil: 4

If you’re on the field for 83 plays and you score 16 points, your offense is laboring. That was certainly the case Sunday, and there were oddities in the snap counts I’d like to dwell on.

The first is that the receiving corps has suddenly become a place where there is some flattening in terms of playing time, and it’s hard for me to square that with what we’re seeing on the field. Hodge is a decent possession receiver in a pinch and a solid enough blocker, while Miller adds appealing speed that this offense has found itself completely incapable of taking advantage of to this point. Hollins is simply a better player than either—at least as a wide receiver, I know Hodge is excellent on special teams—and I’m not certain I like the fact that he’s losing playing time to a pair of options who have a combined nine targets, seven catches, and 59 yards through six weeks of the season. We should see Jefferson ramp up in the weeks ahead and take on more playing time, and he should be a solid addition, but I’m not exactly grasping why Hollins’ playing time is decreasing when he’s the best of uninspiring options.

This team’s issues with blocking effectively for the run are legion at this point, and have much to do with the way defenses are playing them. I’m not sure there’s any easy fix for that besides making teams fear and respect this passing game more than they do, but again, getting your best blockers (Hollins is one of them, as is Pruitt, hell, Keith Smith can help) on the field as often as possible feels like a smart bet.

Patterson’s return seemed like a good opportunity to add a bruising, versatile player back into the mix, but his snaps and usage are still so limited and I’m not sure I really see that changing. This team is built to feature Bijan Robinson—who should not be playing that many snaps, probably—and to a lesser extent Allgeier, and we’re probably only getting a few fun routes and carries for a player the fanbase fell in love with the last couple of years.

The team’s heavy reliance on their tight ends may start to ease if the passing game can stay settled in a bit—Ridder’s mistakes aside—and it’s likely we’ll see Pruitt’s snaps draw down in favor of Jefferson, Hodge, and Miller once that happens. Jonnu Smith isn’t going anywhere, though.


Richie Grant: 51

A.J. Terrell: 51

Jeff Okudah: 51

Jessie Bates: 51

Kaden Eliss: 51

Dee Alford: 46

Grady Jarrett: 41

Nate Landman: 39

Bud Dupree: 39

Calais Campbell: 36

David Onyemata: 36

Lorenzo Carter: 15

Arnold Ebiketie: 14

DeMarcco Hellams: 12

Albert Huggins: 10

LaCale London: 10

Zach Harrison: 8

Atlanta’s reserves along the defensive line are surely matchup-based to some extent, but it’s hilariously random from outside the building beyond the obligatory Harrison snaps. Huggins is getting playing time again, London got his first playing time as a practice squad call-up (and did well), and next week we’ll likely see the team shake things up a bit again. We’re at the point where I trust Ryan Nielsen, Jerry Gray, and this defensive staff to make the right decisions.

Hellams was back in action, too, getting some snaps on key third downs in relief of Richie Grant and mixing in when the Falcons wanted to move defensive backs up closer to the line of scrimmage. As a sure tackler where Grant is...not always, Hellams should find his way onto the field from time-to-time when the Falcons want a steadying presence back there and are looking to move Jessie Bates or Grant closer to the line of scrimmage in place of Landman or Elliss.

Otherwise, the best note here is that Okudah is fully back in action and faring well. Pro Football Focus credited him with five targets, but just one catch allowed for 16 yards and that holding penalty.

This is the side of the ball where things are going well; we’ll have more notes if that ceases to be the case.

Special teams

Tae Davis: 22

DeAngelo Malone: 21

Tre Flowers: 21

DeMarcco Hellams: 18

KhaDarel Hodge: 18

Keith Smith: 18

Micah Abernathy: 18

Jaylinn Hawkins: 11

Richie Grant: 10

Dee Alford: 10

Lorenzo Carter: 10

Bradley Pinion: 9

Nate Landman: 7

MyCole Pruitt: 7

Zach Harrison: 6

Mike Hughes: 6

Mack Hollins: 5

Scotty Miller: 5

Cordarrelle Patterson: 5

Liam McCullough: 5

Grady Jarrett: 4

David Onyemata: 4

Albert Huggins: 4

Jake Matthews: 2

Matthew Bergeron: 2

Ryan Neuzil: 2

Chris Lindstrom: 2

Kaleb McGary: 2

Storm Norton: 2

That punt return was a disaster, and it took a village to make it that way. Micah Abernathy was called up from the practice squad for this one and had been a rock solid special teamer throughout the summer, but he effectively took himself out of the play as the first line of defense. After that, multiple Falcons from Hodge to Hawkins to Flowers missed chances before Flowers’ heroic pursuit prevented the outright touchdown. It was an uncharacteristic lapse from a special teams group that generally has done a terrific job, and it showed how quickly problems can cascade.

Otherwise, no surprises here. The Falcons will be good in this phase most weeks, which is a comfort with the inconsistency on offense.