In all honesty, so far I’m disappointed with the usage of Kyle Pitts in Atlanta. The man is a match up nightmare, who the Falcons are failing to isolate against defenders in one on one situations. Curl routes over the middle aren’t favourable for the number 4 overall pick. The Falcons need to get him in the open field.
Here’s why I’m concerned. This is the same Arthur Smith who got Jonnu Smith a mega contract with the New England Patriots after two successful seasons with the Tennessee Titans right? Sure, yes it was, but while Jonnu Smith was a key part of that Titans offence, he never had over 500 yards receiving, or more than 43 targets per season in either 2020 or 2019. To put that into perspective, in 2020, Travis Kelce of the Chiefs had 178 targets (including post season), and Darren Waller had 140 with the Raiders. The Titans offence of course centres around Derrick Henry, and they run the ball a lot, but I’m not seeing a world where Kyle Pitts goes for 1000 yards in Atlanta, at least, not yet.
Smith needs to alter his approach, especially considering the fact that Atlanta has one of the most questionable running back groups in the NFL right now. There is no certified starter, and certainly not a Derrick Henry type work horse. Mike Davis, who is meant to be the starter, has less than 38 yards per game on average. That’s a horrible day in the office for Derrick Henry and what Arthur Smith is used to. It isn’t going to be that way in Atlanta.
So far this season, Pitts has 15 receptions, and 189 yards receiving. He’s averaging 12.6 yards per catch, which ranks 16th among all tight ends. In comparison to Darren Waller, with 11.4, it’s actually pretty good. However Darren Waller has 24 catches. He’s a focus of his offence. Travis Kelce also has 24 receptions. Pitts seems a little like an afterthought so far this year, and I’m not liking it. Not a single touchdown yet for the first pass catcher taken in this years draft.
Those 15 receptions looks worse when Cordarrelle Patterson has 18, and Mike Davis has 16. Check downs of course, I understand that, but it’s lacking a lot of efficiency for a top draft pick. Olamide Zaccheus has 12 targets for Pete’s sake. This is no vendetta against anybody else on the roster, it’s a sleight on the poor involvement of your heavy investment.
The Falcons need to get him into open spaces and allow him room to work after the catch. That comes down to scheme and planning him into it. Currently, Pitts has more than 10 yards after the catch in only one game. Which was week 2 against the Bucs. Pitts had 34 yards after the catch that day and 73 yards over all. The Falcons are using him in different alignments pre snap which is good to see. He currently has 31% of his snaps on the outside, 46.5% from the slot, and 22.6% in line (on the end of the offensive line). That’s a good spread.
With Calvin Ridley out this week, the Falcons must absolutely game plan for Kyle Pitts in order to beat the Jets in London. I love what they did with Cordarrelle Patterson last weekend against Washington, and he had a monster game in the pass game, but that’s a flash in the pan, and can’t be the weekly go to for the offence. You took Kyle Pitts fourth overall, over the likes of a franchise quarterback to take over from Matt Ryan, or a tackle to protect him. So use him like the priority he was back then. If we’re going to see it anywhere, we’re going to see it against the Jets on Sunday. It’s time to introduce the real Kyle Pitts. Anything else and I’ll be bitterly disappointed.