Coming off a brilliant debut season that saw him become just the second rookie tight end and the first in 60 years to log 1,000 yards receiving, Kyle Pitts has disappointed through two games, totaling just four catches for 38 scoreless yards on 10 targets. Pitts’ relative lack of production would be one thing if the Falcons had a deep skill corps, but that’s obviously not the case with KhaDarel Hodge, Olamide Zaccheaus and rookie Drake London rounding out their depth chart at wide receiver.
Pitts has been excellent in pass protection (fifth out of 62 positional qualifiers, per ProFootballFocus), but is that really the best use of his skill set? Tight ends who run a 4.4 forty don’t exactly grow on trees (doing that at 6’6,” 245 pounds is beyond comprehension), which begs the question, why are the Falcons treating one of the most explosive athletes in the NFL like moving scenery?
“Other guys made plays. It’s not fantasy football,” said coach Arthur Smith responding to a question about Pitts’ odd usage Sunday against the Rams, seeing only three targets in the losing effort. “We will continue to look at everything and try to get better.”
While Smith acknowledged Pitts is a “huge part of our offense,” he didn’t make any promises, suggesting the 21-year-old will have to carve his own role on offense, challenging him to take the next step in his development. Coming off an underwhelming 7-10 season, preceded by an even worse 2020 campaign (4-12), the Falcons aren’t anyone’s idea of a perfect team, but among their laundry list of problems, Pitts isn’t one of them.
The highest-drafted tight end in NFL history, Pitts offers superstar potential, but only if the Falcons use him the right way. Even if Smith doesn’t agree, getting Pitts more involved in the offense needs to be a top priority for the Falcons, who are in danger of falling to 0-3 with a loss to Seattle next Sunday.