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Falcons snap counts from a rainy win over the Jets

Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons beat the New York Jets Sunday thanks to a tiny handful of good plays on offense, the reliable legs of Younghoe Koo and Bradley Pinion, and a smothering defensive effort. We’re not going to quibble with the result, even if the process was far from pretty.

How did the team divvy up the snaps for that win, you ask? That’s what we’re here to talk about, so let’s get to it.

Offense

Desmond Ridder: 68

Jake Matthews: 68

Matthew Bergeron: 68

Drew Dalman: 68

Chris Lindstrom: 68

Drake London: 58

Storm Norton: 53

Bijan Robinson: 51

Kyle Pitts: 45

Van Jefferson: 36

Jonnu Smith: 27

KhaDarel Hodge: 21

Cordarrelle Patterson: 21

MyCole Pruitt: 20

Parker Hesse: 18

Scotty Miller: 17

Keith Smith: 15

Kaleb McGary: 15

Tyler Allgeier: 11


The Falcons obviously struggled to run the ball, so whatever best-laid plans the Falcons might have had coming into this one were put to the wayside. I’m still surprised to see the snaps and carries split so drastically in Robinson’s favor, given that he was getting zero daylight and was obviously not running through contact the same way Allgeier was. I’m in favor of Bijan getting the bulk of touches on the average day, but in the rain against a very physical Jets front when Robinson was having no luck, I would’ve liked to see a greater focus on the team’s more bruising backs, even if the difference likely would’ve been fairly small.

Part of the issue was the early exit for McGary, who for all his faults remains one of the team’s most dependable run blocking linemen. Storm Norton did an admirable job of filling in once McGary went down and may need to do so again versus Tampa Bay, but he is not in McGary’s league when it comes to paving the way for the ground game.

Otherwise, the noteworthy items are an uptick in snaps for Kyle Pitts with the team looking to get him involved against a Jets secondary that scuffled a bit against him, and the fact that Van Jefferson remains the #2 receiver despite a continued lack of production. Ridder had quite a bit of success targeting Pitts on Sunday, which hopefully will carry over to the Buccaneers game this coming Sunday.

Defense

Kaden Elliss: 68

Jessie Bates: 68

Clark Phillips: 65

Jeff Okudah: 64

Richie Grant: 53

DeMarcco Hellams: 50

Bud Dupree: 50

Dee Alford: 48

Calais Campbell: 46

Kentavius Street: 41

Nate Landman: 40

David Onyemata: 36

Lorenzo Carter: 27

Ta’Quon Graham: 24

Zach Harrison: 19

Albert Huggins: 17

Arnold Ebiketie: 17

Andre Smith: 7

Tre Flowers: 4

A.J. Terrell: 3


Tons to cover here. We’ll start with the team’s likely solution to Nate Landman missing games, which is much more in the way of three safety looks for this team. Richie Grant got some work closer to the line of scrimmage and is moving around a bit, with Hellams drawing heavy snaps working with Bates on the back end as a safety. The team will move both around a little bit, but they clearly love Hellams and they may well prefer to use Grant more often as a fifth (or even sixth) defensive back than Andre Smith Jr. as a second inside linebacker. It’ll be worth watching—and I’d expect Smith to get his run—but it appears this defense was already favoring using three safeties more often.

With Terrell out, Clark Phillips stepped into the lineup. It appears that the team would prefer to use Mike Hughes in place of Dee Alford when needed and Tre Flowers in place of Jeff Okudah if he’s hurt—and Flowers did come in late—but Phillips taking over for Terrell is a big deal, especially because he played well. Pro Football Focus credited him with three missed tackles, which is not ideal, but the tackles he did make were impressive and physical, and he allowed just two completions on three targets for 13 yards. If Terrell misses a week or two—and I’m guessing he will—Phillips should be in the lineup.

The rotations up front are established now, and that has been for the best. Street has been an extremely useful addition, Ebiketie is making the most of his limited snaps, and the run defense continues to be excellent against some capable rushing teams. If LaCale London comes back we’ll see how he shakes things up, but after many weeks of tinkering, Ryan Nielsen has a group of players he feels comfortable depending on. There’s not an elite pass rush coming out of that group, but they’re doing everything else at a high enough level to give this team a chance.

Finally, we’ll see if Smith is the team’s solution at inside linebacker or if they try to add someone to the mix with a multi-week absence possible for Landman. I thought Smith made a very good, heads-up play on the fumble return for a touchdown that wasn’t, even if he was picked on once in coverage, and the Falcons prefer to have their young players step up when injuries strike. It’s just a question of whether Smith is a player they feel good about stepping into anywhere from 20-50 snaps right now or not.

Special teams

Andre Smith: 25

Micah Abernathy: 25

Tre Flowers: 23

Keith Smith: 23

Richie Grant: 22

KhaDarel Hodge: 22

DeMarcc Hellams: 20

DeAngelo Malone: 18

Bradley Pinion: 16

Milo Eifler: 14

Lorenzo Carter: 13

Parker Hesse: 12

Liam McCullough: 12

Dee Alford: 9

Zach Harrison: 7

MyCole Pruitt: 6

Calais Campbell: 5

Jake Matthews: 3

Matthew Bergeron: 3

Chris Lindstrom: 3

Storm Norton: 3

Cordarrelle Patterson: 3

Scotty Miller: 3

Kyle Hinton: 3

Ryan Neuzil: 3

Younghoe Koo: 3

Kentavius Street: 2

Nate Landman: 2

David Onyemata: 2

Nate Landman: 2

Ta’Quon Graham: 2

Jeff Okudah: 1


I’ll lob some praise Pinion’s way for a really good effort against the Jets, given that he had nine punts and consistently gave a weak Jets offense terrible field position to work with. He’s currently tracking to finish the 2023 season with a franchise-best single season gross yards per punt average and net yards per punt average, as well as one of the better inside the 20 yard line rates in franchise history. Atlanta’s specialists have been terrific this year outside of their returners, and Dee Alford was at least solid on punt returns Sunday.

Otherwise, the worthwhile note here is that the modest decrease in defensive snaps for Richie Grant is coinciding with a big uptick in special teams snaps, a welcome development given that he’s been one of the team’s more reliable special teams options over the course of his career. He played a season-high number of snaps there on Sunday against the Jets.