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Falcons snap counts from a brutal loss in Detroit

Breaking down playing time.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Atlanta Falcons went into an ear-hammeringly loud Ford Field and got their butts kicked. The defense’s game effort wasn’t enough to overcome a lousy one from the offense, unfortunately.

Who had a hand in that offense’s woes, besides a blanket everybody? Who was key on defense? The snap counts can’t answer all these questions, but they can help us get some answers.


Desmond Ridder: 67

Jake Matthews: 67

Matthew Bergeron: 67

Drew Dalman: 67

Chris Lindstrom: 67

Kaleb McGary: 67

Drake London: 62

Bijan Robinson: 54

Kyle Pitts: 52

Mack Hollins: 48

Jonnu Smith: 48

Tyler Allgeier: 20

MyCole Pruitt: 18

KhaDarel Hodge: 13

Keith Smith: 10

Scotty Miller: 10

The Falcons love two tight end sets and deployed them accordingly against the Lions; on a day where the passing attack is humming a bit more, it’s fair to say that Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith can and likely will turn their outsized target counts into more production. What is clear is that the duo are the top two tight ends and are going to continue to play the majority of snaps together; MyCole Pruitt’s rapport with Desmond Ridder got him in a target in this one and will likely have him spelling Pitts and Smith more often going forward. Smith is hyper-reliable over the middle of the field and the Falcons can do so much more with Pitts than they have, so don’t expect any major changes here.

In games where Allgeier is quieter on the ground and/or the Falcons are going to pass more, expect the extreme split in snaps to continue with Robinson in a lead role. It’s worth noting that with the team struggling mightily in pass protection, though, that Allgeier is the more refined player in that particular regard. It might pay off for the Falcons, if they’re going to try to air it out, to line up Bijan in the slot more often and let Allgeier stay in to block.

At some point it is fair to wonder if using Miller more often might add a field-stretching sort of speed that only Pitts and maybe Bijan Robinson really provide for Atlanta right now. His limited usage isn’t stunning—the Titans leaned heavily on two receivers when Arthur Smith was their offensive coordinator—but it is something the team may want to take a harder look at with the lack of explosive plays so readily apparent. With the number of blockers the Falcons are rolling out—remember, Hodge is a solid blocker in his own right—the Falcons should be getting more time for Desmond Ridder and/or better production in the run game than they managed against Detroit. With Jacksonville likely to steal their blueprint with (hopefully) less success, it would make sense for the Falcons to find a more compelling way to punish the Jaguars through the air.

Otherwise, no surprises here. If Ridder and this offensive line are going to play every snap together, though, we hopefully are not going to see the kind of errant performance and putrid pass protection that were part and parcel of the game on Sunday.


Richie Grant: 70

A.J. Terrell: 70

Jessie Bates: 70

Kaden Elliss: 70

Dee Alford: 64

Troy Andersen: 63

Bud Dupree: 53

Tre Flowers: 52

Grady Jarrett: 52

Calais Campbell: 46

David Onyemata: 43

Lorenzo Carter: 19

Zach Harrison: 17

Ta’Quon Graham: 17

Timothy Horne: 17

Jaylinn Hawkins: 11

Arnold Ebiketie: 11

Jeff Okudah: 11

Nate Landman: 7

Mike Hughes: 7

Andersen came off the field because he was hurt, and unfortunately it sounds like he may miss the year. This will be Nate Landman’s job so long as he plays well; expect the Falcons to prioritize signing a veteran linebacker this week if Andersen is going on the shelf.

Tre Flowers’ time in the starting lineup appears to be drawing slowly to a close, as Jeff Okudah took some of his snaps as the team eased him onto the field and Mike Hughes got in on the action as well. I don’t think rotating your starting cornerback is a great idea, and in this one I wonder if it made Flowers’ already difficult day more difficult. While he’s a willing and useful player in run support, he’s allowed the most yardage and yards per attempt on the team and has one of the five worst Pro Football Focus coverage grades for cornerbacks in the entire NFL. Flowers should still have some utility as a reserve and is a player the coaching staff clearly trusts, but this will be Okudah’s show shortly.

There is a pretty stark contrast in snaps between Grady Jarrett, Bud Dupree, Calais Campbell, and David Onyemata and Atlanta’s reserves, which may become a problem later in the year as players over 30 wear down a bit. They did make a major personnel change among their reserve group, parking Albert Huggins in favor of Timothy Horne, who looked characteristically solid against the run in particular on Sunday.

The Falcons do need to find ways to balance their snaps a little more during less challenging matchups, at minimum, and the lack of playing time for Arnold Ebiketie and complete lack of snaps for DeAngelo Malone after the duo were expected to take a step forward this year is unfortunate with the team’s inconsistent pass rush. Whether it’s the pair not being ideal fits for Atlanta’s defense under Ryan Nielsen right now or something where the team needs to see more from the duo before they give them more snaps is an open question, but the Falcons need to ensure that these young players can be impactful at some point down the line.

Special teams

Jaylinn Hawkins: 24

Tae Davis: 24

KhaDarel Hodge: 20

Keith Smith: 20

Nate Landman: 18

DeAngelo Malone: 18

Dee Alford: 13

Richie Grant: 12

Bradley Pinion: 12

DeMarcco Hellams: 12

Zach Harrison: 11

Mike Hughes: 11

Tre Flowers: 10

Lorenzo Carter: 9

Liam McCullough: 9

MyCole Pruitt: 8

Scotty Miller: 8

Calais Campbell: 7

Troy Andersen: 6

John FitzPatrick: 6

Grady Jarrett: 4

David Onyemata: 4

Ta’Quon Graham: 4

Arnold Ebiketie: 3

Matthew Bergeron: 3

Jake Matthews: 3

Kaleb McGary: 3

Mack Hollins: 3

Ryan Neuzil: 3

Kyle Hinton: 3

Younghoe Koo: 3

Whoever the Falcons import at inside linebacker will have to have a major role on special teams, because Nate Landman has been a vital cog for this group in the early going.

Otherwise, the noteworthy thing is that Hughes is continuing to field both kickoffs and punts. No offense to him, but it’s not going particularly well, making you miss Avery Williams and Cordarrelle Patterson quite a bit.