Falcons: Kyle Pitts’ success begins with Arthur Smith accentuating his skill set

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Ever since his time in Gainsville with Dan Mullen and Kyle Trask, everyone has known how special Kyle Pitts would be. If you didn’t watch Pitts at Florida, the first NFL impression he made was dazzling at his pro day.

The 6’6″, 245-pound freak ran his 40-yard dash in a remarkable 4.44 seconds, recorded a 10’9″ broad jump and 33.5-inch vertical leap; more intriguing, Pitts had the longest measured wingspan — over 83 inches — of any wide receiver or tight end at the NFL combine in the last 20 years.

His unique athleticism affords his offensive play-caller — Arthur Smith in this case — the luxury of using him in any capacity he chooses, whether that be out wide, in the slot, or inline next to the tackle. Back in June, reports of Smith lining him up all over the field came to light, which wasn’t exactly surprising but encouraging to see so early.

It is now becoming fundamental in this Atlanta offense. In his NFL debut against the Eagles, Pitts finished with a disappointing stat line of four receptions on eight targets for 31 yards; still, he was used in various alignments. 

Kyle Pitts Snaps By Position
Position Snap
Inline 11
Slot 20
Wide 12

Since then, Pitts has gradually introduced himself to the world with his real coming-out party occurring over the past two weeks — 16 catches for 282 yards, bringing his total through six games to 31 catches for 471 yards and a touchdown.

The entire Falcons offense started the season sluggishly. Matt Ryan didn’t look sharp, Arthur Smith couldn’t get the offense in rhythm, and Kyle Pitts made a minimal impact at the beginning of the season. Now, things have changed. Ryan has tossed for 1,204 yards and ten touchdowns to only one interception in his past four games on 67.4% passing. A big part of that is Smith’s use of Pitts.

Pitts is unlike any tight end in the league. He’s more athletic than Travis Kelce and Darren Waller, has a larger catch radius than Gronk, and runs routes better than DK Metcalf. Therefore, Smith can gameplan to attack defenses in different ways (where they’re weakest) because Pitts can hurt you from so many different alignments by using the entire route tree. Arthur Smith is accentuating his unique skillset, evident in Pitts leading all tight ends in the league with 31.6% of snaps lined up out wide.

Now, he’s tracking towards breaking a few NFL records and possibly an Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Pitts is on pace for 1,335 yards, which would be a rookie record for a tight end. He’s also the first rookie tight end to record back-to-back 100-yard games since Raymond Chester in 1970. Through his first six games, Pitts leads all rookie tight ends in receiving.

Pitts is a special player, and though this regime may ultimately fail, it looks like the Falcons have a future Hall of Famer.

 

 

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