Snaps Lost: Atlanta Falcons

Looking at snaps lost via offseason roster changes, Cole Schultz shows what Atlanta will need to replace.

| 2 years ago

Snaps Lost: Atlanta Falcons

snaps-lost-ATLThe “Snaps Lost” series is a detailed look at the playing time void created by players that have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left in free agency, or retired.

Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we have created a “Full Time Equivalent” metric. FTE is the total number of missing snaps divided by the number of plays the team ran on that side of the ball. This is an equivalent measure of how many full-time players (100% snap count) the team would need to add on to make up for their offseason losses, even though very few players actually play a full snap count.

For example, if a team had 1,100 snaps on offense and then lost seven players who combined to play 2,200 snaps, their FTE would be 2.0 (2,200/1,100). This ensures that a team who lost a high volume of players only has a high FTE if those players racked up some significant playing time last season. FTE can only fall between zero (no players left the team) and 11 (fire everyone!) for each side of the ball.

Each team will have a ranking following their FTE, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.

A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
– Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2015 snap counts are not considered.
– Biggest Losses are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
– All snap counts are Regular Season only.

Atlanta Falcons

Overall FTE Lost: 6.23, 22nd


FTE Lost: 2.83, 22nd

Biggest Losses: Justin Blalock (991), Gabe Carimi (597), Harry Douglas (567), Steven Jackson (429), Jacquizz Rodgers (360)

Summary – Blalock was cut loose after a solid enough year at left guard, but Carimi was only ever a backup plan on the line and likely won’t be missed too much. Douglas had been the third receiver in Atlanta for a while now and turns 31 this season. Of more concern are the two departing running backs, as Jackson and Rodgers combined for over 70% of Atlanta’s tailback snaps in 2014.

Replacement Plan – The young Harland Gunn is slated to replace Blalock but with just 189 career snaps he’s a bit of an unknown at this point. There are a bevy of options at the third receiver spot, and it will likely be an increase in playing time for Devin Hester and Eric Weems, though fourth-round pick Justin Hardy could compete for snaps too. Expect a healthy increase in Devonta Freeman’s 237 snaps from a year ago, with rookie third rounder Tevin Coleman likely coming in in relief.


FTE Lost: 3.41, 23rd

Biggest Losses: Dwight Lowery (1,050), Robert McClain (642), Corey Peters (535), Josh Wilson (458)

Summary – They let Lowery walk, which opens up a starting safety spot as he missed just 56 snaps last season. The departures of McClain and Wilson further open up the secondary as the duo combined to play the snaps of one full time starter. Neither played particularly well so the loss isn’t a back breaking one. After spending big on the defensive line last offseason, Atlanta let Peters move on to Arizona rather than pull out the checkbook again.

Replacement Plan – Lowery will likely be replaced by some combination of William Moore and second-year safety Dezman Southward. Both could add around 700 extra snaps if they lock down an every-down role, but neither impressed much in 2014. Depending on how ready second-round corner Jalen Collins is in Week 1, he could see the field in nickel packages with Robert Alford retaining his starting role, but if Collins comes on strong, they could swap roles by the end of the season.

On the defensive line, Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, and Ra’Shede Hageman all played less than 50% of the team’s snaps last year, and that trio should have little trouble eating up Peters’ 2014 playing time. Osi Umenyiora and Jonathan Massaquoi will not be back and combined for 680 snaps on the edge. The recently signed Adrian Clayborn will help ease the loss, but he’ll be competing with the eighth overall pick, Vic Beasley.


  • Tim Edell

    Pretty sure Chris Chester or Sam Baker if they do not cut him will end up starting at Gaurd ahead of Gunn.

    • CheckyMan

      I’m a little disappointed that this was posted today and is already outdated, even though Chester was signed last week.

      I also think the bits about Hardy vs. Hester/Weems and Freeman vs. Coleman are probably backwards.

      • PFF_ColeSchultz

        That’s the unfortunate part about doing a series like this, is if you don’t write everything the night before it goes up, some things tend to get outdated. It didn’t help that the Falcons’ official depth chart was (and still is) a bit lackluster, to say the least. This is about the best part of the offseason to do this though, as the draft is over and free agency is pretty slow at the moment.
        I wouldn’t particularly expect Coleman or Hardy to project to be huge parts of the offense, relatively few 3rd/4th rounders last year made a major impact on their team, but HB on a HB-needy team would be the ideal way for a mid-round pick to get some snaps. Not many teams go into the draft expecting their 3rd rounders to come in and be a solid starter from day 1, though it’s certainly a possibility.

        • CheckyMan

          Not many teams are as devoid of depth as the Falcons haha, but yeah I certainly get you and at least at this point in the offseason it definitely makes more sense to expect the vets to be favored. How do you feel about Chester filling the hole at guard?

          • PFF_ColeSchultz

            He’s had three straight years of average to above average play and five straight of 1000+ snaps, so he’ll very likely be better than whoever else they’d have to slot in there. He’s up there in age, but no reason to think his play would decline too much yet as he’s 32.