The Falcons sit a game under .500 about halfway through the first season under the Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith regime. The team has stumbled at times but has clearly improved periodically since the abysmal opener against the Eagles. The defense is bare with talent, but there have been bright spots. A.J. Terrell has started to show signs of becoming one of the better corners in the league and a true #1. Jaylinn Hawkins has surprisingly been a significant contributor as the season progresses, and Ade Ogundeji has overachieved for his draft slot.
The offense has been a bit of a disappointment outside of Matt Ryan‘s recent four-game stretch and Cordarrelle Patterson‘s unexpected emergence. One, though, has been consistently affecting games, whether the box score indicates that or not — Kyle Pitts.
Even when he isn’t going over 100 yards receiving, defenses have to allocate so much attention to slow him down that it should provide more opportunities for other players, even if it didn’t come to fruition last week against the Panthers. The national media has noticed as well; in their annual All-Rookie Team, PFF has named Pitts the lone tight end.
“While this past weekend against the Panthers was a bit of a dud for Pitts, the two weeks prior showed the special skill set that made him the first non-quarterback off the board in April. He went over 100 yards in each game while lining up mostly split wide. For the season, nearly 75% of his snaps have come from the slot or out wide.”
Pitts has gradually been worked into the offense with his proper coming-out party against the Dolphins and Jets — 16 catches for 282 yards and a touchdown. He’s also tracking towards breaking a few NFL records but has already etched his name in history — the first rookie tight end to record back-to-back 100-yard games since Raymond Chester in 1970. Pitts is an exceptional talent, and it’ll be interesting to track his journey to the rookie tight end receiving total.