CBS: Kyle Pitts entering make-it-or-break-it 2023 season

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The Kyle Pitts disrespect has to stop. The Falcons made him the highest-drafted tight end in league history, so expectations are sky high. It’s quite possible they were never attainable in the first place, but it’s gone too far.

I have seen people declaring him an all-time bust, and there’s this — Chris Trapasso of CBS stating that Pitts is entering a make-it-or-break-it 2023 season.

We all thought the Falcons had selected a unicorn tight end in Pitts at No. 4 overall in the 2021 draft, especially after his 1,000-yard plus rookie season. No qualms about his selection over Ja’Marr Chase, who went immediately after him.

At this point in time, Atlanta’s decision looks silly. His second NFL season was riddled with a hamstring injury and then a season-ending knee injury. Pitts’ productivity outside of those ailments paled in comparison to what he did as a rookie. Two touchdowns on a mere 28 receptions for 356 yards. And he clearly was not a focal point of Arthur Smith’s run-heavy offense that toted the rock more than any other team in football last year. Pitts only won on three of 12 contested-catch situations last year, which seems impossible at his size and gargantuan catch radius. Which Pitts are we going to see in his third season? Especially with fellow top 10 picks Drake London and running back Bijan Robinson in the mix on offense?

Pitts posted 1,000+ yards as a rookie en route to a Pro Bowl selection and is somehow considered in the bust conversation.

He nearly broke Mike Ditka‘s all-time league rookie receiving record and followed it up with 356 yards and two scores on 28 catches across 10 games, ending the season on injured reserve. However, it wasn’t all his fault. The drop-off from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota, even with Ryan being at the end of his career, was too great for Pitts to overcome.

Arthur Smith consistently took the ball out of Mariota’s hands for long stretches of games, relying on the rushing attack, which limited Pitts’ impact. It wasn’t just the lack of opportunities either.

Mariota frequently missed on the deep balls, and it wasn’t only missed chunk plays. Falcons pass catchers were among the league leaders in off-target rates in 2022 — Pitts leading the league by a large margin. The ball was deemed off-target 29% of the time Mariota targeted Pitts, with the next closest being 26%.

Somehow no context can be applied to Kyle Pitts’ 2022 campaign, but we have all of these advanced analytics telling us how bad he was last year. I am pleading with people to stop watching sports through an Excel spreadsheet.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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