Arthur Smith is quelling concern over Drake London’s and Kyle Pitts’ involvement in the Falcons offense by pointing to their track records.
They’ve made big impacts before. Surely, they’ll do it again.
The Falcons beat the Panthers 24-10 on Sunday thanks little to their passing game. Desmond Ridder attempted just 18 passes, connecting on 15 of them, but most were for short yardage, resulting in just 115 yards of passing offense in the win.
While the result obviously was satisfactory, Pitts nor London being actively involved was concerning – especially given the 2022 campaign Pitts, in particular, is coming off of. Pitts’ 44 yards receiving led the team, but 34 of those came on one play and he ultimately finished with just two catches on three targets.
London didn't have a single reception and was targeted just once, while Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier combined for nine receptions on as many targets. Mack Hollins was the only receiver to make a reception, reeling in three passes for 31 yards.
Smith chalked it up to a “statistical anomaly” during his weekly appearance on Dukes & Bell.
“Every game is different. I think that was a rare NFL game … that’s usually not how an NFL game goes,” Smith said Wednesday. “The problem was we (had) a lot penalties, did a lot of things to ourselves. Carolina is a good defense, give them credit, but we can’t have some self-inflicted wounds. Some of it is post-snap, and we’ve all got to do a better job, it’s gonna start with me. …The next couple years I doubt any game will ever go like that, just because of the circumstances.”
The Falcons don’t exactly hide from their desire to run the ball and keep their running backs heavily involved. But to have such dynamic players like Pitts and London being treated like afterthoughts was nonetheless perplexing.
Smith pointed to their past as evidence that they will be able to contribute.
“I would be concerned if there wasn’t evidence of this,” Smith said. “Nobody is worried about Drake London. Go look at all the film last season, everybody wants to be a prisoner of the moment, the ultimate goal is to win. If you have the right guys, they understand that and there’s trust built back and forth. … When you have guys like that, it gives you a chance to win week and week out, but we ultimately want to build this thing and win championships here. …
“If Drake hadn’t done it before,” Smith later added, “Or Kyle hadn’t done it – it was actually kind of cathartic to see Kyle go make a play down the field again. People don’t understand the challenges behind the scenes sometimes, not just physically, but mentally. There were a lot of things we missed last year with Kyle deep, go back to 2021 when he was in rhythm. I mean you talk about winning games down in Miami, New Orleans ... He was in a good rhythm, it’s the reason he broke the record. …
“We’ve got a lot of confidence. Now, we’ve got to go do it, but there’s been evidence. Statistically, that’s probably never how a game is going to go again for us. But you want to be balanced, we’ve got explosive players and we’ve got a lot of selfless guys.”