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'He's got a very high-level of football intelligence and football sense': Why Olamide Zaccheaus impact has been vital this season

The fourth-year wide receiver is averaging 17.8 yards per catch

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Olamide Zaccheaus is off to one of the best starts in his young career, helping to anchor this Falcons offense.

As one of the veterans in the receiver room, the fourth-year veteran has been setting the tone in more ways than one. Comparing his stats from his first three seasons in the league, he's on track to double his numbers in both receptions and yards by the end of the season.


"He's got a very high-level of football intelligence and football sense," offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said. "He understands space and timing. He's able to showcase and make those plays and what I give him and the rest of the offense credit for is when those plays unveil themselves, guys are making them and that's obviously the biggest goal in the National Football League."

Quarterback Marcus Mariota has a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting Zaccheaus in 2022, according to NFL Research. The chemistry amongst the two is something Zaccheaus sees maturing as the season progresses.

"Just having conversations, seeing what he sees," he said. "It's makes it more comfortable to put the ball in the spot where he feels like it needs to be. I said this in training camp and even OTAs but the more we do it, the better we will be."

Zaccheaus already has 213 receiving yards on 12 receptions with two touchdowns, averaging 17.8 yards per catch compared to 2021, when he had 31 receptions, 406 receiving yards with three touchdowns. His average per catch ranks fourth in the entire league, and according to TruMedia, Zaccheaus has a 100 percent completion rate when targeted between the 10-and-30-yard-line.

His longest reception of the season came against the Browns when Mariota found him deep right for a 42-yard completion. Understanding each of his opponents coverages and responsibilities is something he homed in during the offseason and in film study. He's also finding ways to create significant separation, with most of his receptions coming when the closest defender is between 2-8 yards away, per TruMedia.

"I have an idea of what they're in and how to attack it," he said.

Heading into Week 6 against a physical San Fransisco 49ers secondary will present another challenge for the Falcons as they look for their third win of the season. Zaccheaus has played against the 49ers multiple times throughout his career and understands what lies ahead this Sunday. His consistency and veteran experience will be key for this Falcons offense in this pivotal matchup.

"He does a lot of things for us," head coach Arthur Smith added. "He does a lot of things and he's playing really good football for us."


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