Coming into the year, there was a lot of hype surrounding the Falcons offense, but so far, they haven’t come close to living up to expectations.
Desmond Ridder doesn’t look like he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback. The offensive line has been one of the more disappointing units across the league, given what they were a year ago, and Arthur Smith’s passing concepts make Dirk Koetter look like a play-calling savant. It’s been downright disgusting on the offensive side of the ball, and nobody is paying for it more than Atlanta’s pass catchers.
Through four weeks, Bijan Robinson leads all Falcons in targets, while Jonnu Smith is Atlanta’s leading receiver. Those were two new pieces that a lot of people were eager to see join this offense, but nobody expected them to be the Falcons primary targets in the passing game after four games.
Atlanta drafted a wide receiver and a tight end in the top-ten of back-to-back drafts. Nobody is doubting the talent of Kyle Pitts or Drake London, but everyone is rightfully questioning their usage. To this point, they’ve combined for 22 catches and 247 yards. That’s unacceptable given their draft status.
However, perhaps there is a reason for why Kyle Pitts hasn’t looked quite the same since his breakout rookie season in 2021. His 2022 season ended with a knee injury, and it appears that may be an issue that is still bothering. Arthur Smith acknowledged Pitts still isn’t quite 100% despite never appearing on the injury report this season.
Falcons HC Arthur Smith said Kyle Pitts is getting closer and there were points Sunday he looked like he did in 2021.
But he didn't want to put a percentage on where Pitts' health is. "It's getting close," Smith said.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 2, 2023
I’ve been questioning Pitts’ health all season; he just hasn’t looked like the same guy that took the league by storm in 2021. The burst that he was known for coming out of college doesn’t appear to be there, and we’ve even seen him come up hobbling after a few routes.
Which begs the question, why the hell is he even on the field?
The Falcons primary focus should be keeping Pitts healthy for the duration of his career. The hope is that he will be a staple in Atlanta for the next decade. That’s why they drafted him fourth overall after all. Risking further injury early in a season in which the Falcons aren’t really contenders makes next to no sense, especially when he’s not exactly lighting the world on fire as a receiver.
Hopefully, we get more answers this week as to exactly what’s been bothering Pitts, but I can’t imagine justifying playing him if he’s still dealing with an injury that’s been nagging him since last year. If there’s any risk of this issue getting worse, it’s malpractice by the entire organization.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire