The Falcons’ lack of offensive output shouldn’t be solely cast on Kyle Pitts; however, the highest tight end drafted in NFL history tends to carry towering and sometimes unreasonable expectations. Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s pass offense have stalled in recent weeks; in fact, the veteran quarterback hasn’t surpassed the 200-yard mark in three straight weeks, four of the last five too. And that is for various reasons — execution, personnel, and schematics all contribute. So, Kyle Pitts’ scarcity of production isn’t necessarily because of just one thing.
Against the Dolphins and Jets, the rookie phenom introduced himself to the world; Pitts hauled in 16 receptions on 18 targets for 282 yards and his lone touchdown on the year. It was spectacular. He showed precisely where all the draft hype was coming from. Pitts was able to win in multiple alignments running a variety of routes, displaying his vast catch radius and run after the catch ability. It was a sight to behold.
Well, in the five games since that performance in Miami, Pitts has totaled 14 catches on 31 targets for only 190 yards. He’s failed to eclipse 30 yards in back-to-back weeks, so Arthur Smtih’s plan has to be to get Pitts involved early and often. It isn’t that easy, though. Obviously, the Falcons offensive game plan will involve a heavy dose of Cordarrelle Patterson and Pitts; Todd Bowles knows that.
If the Falcons have any chance of upsetting the Super Bowl favorite Buccaneers, they’ll need heroic efforts from Ryan, Patterson and Pitts. Against Tampa earlier in the season, Pitts hauled in five passes for 73 yards in what was his best game up until that point. Recently, the Bucs defense has been dealing with injuries, and they’re not getting healthier this Sunday. Tampa Bay’s safety room is thin, which is something Pitts can take advantage of. On top of that, Bowles’ unit hasn’t defended tight ends well at all this year.
The Falcons will likely have to come out and punch the Bucs in the mouth to win this game; they have to start fast, which is something they’ve struggled with, among a bevy of other things. Getting Pitts going early can be a catalyst for an offensive resurgence, but if they don’t get him involved much at all, I don’t see the Falcons keeping this one close at all.