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Falcons snap counts from an ugly one against the Vikings

Not like this!

NFL: NOV 05 Vikings at Falcons Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Big changes were afoot this week for Atlanta. There was a new starting quarterback under center, a new defensive lineman added via trade, and injuries forcing lineup changes. Obviously the Falcons lost, but what did those snap counts look like?

You probably guessed it from the article title, but that’s what we’re about to find out.


Taylor Heinicke: 69

Jake Matthews: 69

Matthew Bergeron: 69

Drew Dalman: 69

Chris Lindstrom: 69

Kaleb McGary: 69

KhaDarel Hodge: 46

Van Jefferson: 45

Bijan Robinson: 42

Kyle Pitts: 39

Jonnu Smith: 39

MyCole Pruitt: 29

Tyler Allgeier: 24

Scotty Miller: 21

Damiere Byrd: 19

Tucker Fisk: 18

Mack Hollins: 14

Cordarrelle Patterson: 9

We’ve given a couple of weeks for this receiving corps to gel, and with Drake London out obviously the team had to shuffle things a bit. It was a reminder that this receiving corps gets pretty grim pretty fast with London gone, and that wasn’t helped by a productive Mack Hollins (three grabs on 14 snaps) exiting the game with an injury. The Falcons are giving Van Jefferson the chances to seize a role and shine and he just hasn’t been able to take advantage of that yet, though it would obviously help this offense a great deal if he could. Hodge has put made some nice grabs, but he has not proven to be a volume target. The hope is that both players benefit when London returns, because it might be a while for Hollins.

At tight end, things are also muddled beyond belief. I understand Jonnu Smith getting as many snaps as he does because he’s consistently productive with those snaps, but Pitts should probably be getting a little more playing time and certainly more looks. With Drake London out, Pitts should be your offense’s most dynamic pass catching weapon and biggest red zone mismatch, and yet he’s far less involved than he ought to be inside the 20 in particular. Instead, he’s a useful but not standout piece of the passing game, and his obvious talent is continually wasted to the detriment of the offense.

I’m also not certain why John FitzPatrick is on the roster if the team is prioritizing bringing up Fisk as a blocking tight end option over him, because Fisk got plenty of work in this one. JFP clearly has some upside I’d like to see at some point; with injuries mounting, I’d really like to see him get some run soon.

The running back split makes more sense, but 15 touches and targets on 42 snaps for Robinson versus 15 touches and targets for Allgeier on just 24 snaps is sort of an ass backwards handling of how this thing should be divvied up. I recognize that Robinson is the more credible receiving threat and is getting more snaps for that reason, but Allgeier is superior in pass protection and should be back there on those snaps instead of Robinson. I assumed we would see Allgeier take on a heavier snap load with the team picking its spots more with Robinson to give him the maximum number of high leverage touches, but that’s working in reverse to this point. Both backs are contributors, but this team needs more from both, and that means better from the backs themselves, the line on a down-by-down basis, and Arthur Smith and company cooking up looks for them.

Other than that, everything’s fine.


Richie Grant: 75

A.J. Terrell: 75

Kaden Elliss: 75

Jeff Okudah: 75

Jessie Bates: 75

Nate Landman: 74

David Onyemata: 51

Kentavius Street: 47

Bud Dupree: 44

Calais Campbell: 40

Lorenzo Carter: 40

Dee Alford: 39

Zach Harrison: 23

Arnold Ebiketie: 21

Mike Hughes: 20

Micah Abernathy: 18

Ta’Quon Graham: 16

Albert Huggins: 16

Tre Flowers: 1

Ryan Nielsen loves his guys. That’s never been more apparent than this week, where Street went from afterthought on the Eagles defense to full-time starter for Atlanta and playing pretty well considering the circumstances. He’ll plug in as a starter full-time going forward, too, making the modest price the Falcons paid to get him well worth it. He’s not going to be Jarrett—who is?—but clearly Nielsen was not ready to give the likes of Graham and Huggins hugely expanded roles with Jarrett out.

It’s time to see Clark Phillips. I simply can’t believe that Phillips, an aggressive cornerback in college who drew a lot of praise for his playmaking ability, is a worse option than Hughes, who in turn came in for Alford and allowed the decisive touchdown to Brandon Powell, who he was nowhere near when the ball came out of Josh Dobbs’ hand. Hughes has returner ability and the versatility to play multiple cornerback roles that the team clearly valued, but he has not provided any of that value on defense or special teams to this point. Phillips has had nine games to sit and learn, and if Alford’s going to miss time, I want to see him at least mixing in.

The Falcons badly need to figure out who they can tab to keep mobile quarterbacks inside the pocket, as they’ve been burnt badly by Baker Mayfield, Sam Howell, and now Josh Dobbs when they’ve elected to scramble. Whether that’s tapping Richie Grant as a dedicated option given that he’s quick and letting DeMarcco Hellams play deep, letting the speedy Lorenzo Carter keep tabs on those scramblers, or even tossing DeAngelo Malone in at last and giving him some run given how sneaky good he was at corraling runners in college, the team needs a plan that’s better than “hope older guys like Bud Dupree and Calais Campbell can win a footrace.”

Special teams

Tre Flowers: 27

Tae Davis: 27

DeAngelo Malone: 27

Micah Abernathy: 26

KhaDarel Hodge: 19

Bradley Pinion: 17

Tucker Fisk: 16

Clark Phillips: 16

Richie Grant: 12

MyCole Pruitt: 12

John FitzPatrick: 12

Calais Campbell: 11

Lorenzo Carter: 11

Scotty Miller: 11

Liam McCullough: 10

Mike Hughes: 9

Nate Landman: 8

Arnold Ebiketie: 8

Dee Alford: 7

David Onyemata: 6

Ta’Quon Graham: 6

Mack Hollins: 6

Matthew Bergeron: 6

Jake Matthews: 6

Kaleb McGary: 6

Ryan Neuzil: 6

Storm Norton: 6

Chris Lindstrom: 6

Kyle Hinton: 6

Younghoe Koo: 6

Albert Huggins: 5

We got our first look at Phillips on special teams in three weeks, and he played a season-high number of snaps there. Again, I should stress that I support playing him on defense, too. While FitzPatrick doesn’t have a role on offense, he is this team’s leading special teams tackler, which is something.

I like to throw this in every couple of weeks, but it’s worth appreciating how good your specialists are, even if the return game has been pretty lackluster this year. Younghoe Koo is one of the best in the business, Bradley Pinion is consistently good, and Liam McCullough is invisible, which is exactly what you want from your long snapper.

Finally, Dee Alford picked up punt returns with Hughes banished and Cordarrelle Patterson exiting the game, returning one kick for five yards and a punt for zero yards. The Falcons are still searching for more on those returns, but a healthy Alford should be able to deliver if they keep having him handle punts. Stay tuned on that one.