The Falcons added Jonnu Smith and Bijan Robinson to an already talented skill group, one that features three record-holders.
It’s slated to be one of the most explosive and versatile offenses in football, even with Pitts coming off a disappointing 2022 campaign.
The highest-drafted tight end in league history 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.
Now, with a new-look offense led by Desmond Ridder, Kyle Pitts is bound to experience some positive regression. Adma Schein of NFL.com is going as far as to guarantee it.
After eclipsing 1,000 yards as a rookie, Kyle Pitts managed just 356 yards in an injury-riddled sophomore campaign that ended with knee surgery in November. But I still believe. And more importantly, so does Falcons coach Arthur Smith.
“We are expecting the next step for him as he comes back from his knee,” Smith said back in March, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Couldn’t be more excited about Kyle and his future.”
As the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history (No. 4 overall), Pitts entered the league with unparalleled hype. Consequently, while he earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie, some still view him as a disappointment. That is wrong, especially just two years into his career. Don’t let your preconceived notions suffocate a developing player. Everyone praises Pitts’ work ethic, and given the pass-catching prowess that he entered the league with, his plus blocking has been a pleasant surprise. I anticipate the receiving numbers will come back in a big way in 2023.
Flanked by Drake London and now Bijan Robinson in Smith’s attack, Pitts won’t command all attention from opposing defenses. That said, with Desmond Ridder under center, you can bet the second-year quarterback will routinely lean on his 6-foot-6, 246-pound mismatch nightmare/safety valve.
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. The hope is Ridder will be able to improve the pass game efficiency and explosiveness.
Mariota frequently missed on the deep balls, but it wasn’t just the 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%.
Falcons fans have a lot to be excited about in 2023, and Kyle Pitts returning to form is certainly one of them.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire