Kyle Pitts to be featured in Arthur Smith’s offense against porous Eagles defense

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Arguably the best player in franchise history was traded this offseason in Julio Jones, leaving a massive void, but Terry Fontenot drafted an equally special prospect fourth overall in Kyle Pitts. The former Florida Gator is one of the highest-profile non-quarterback prospects of the past 20 years because of his freakish size and athleticism, but the results will have to speak for themselves. Remember, Julio Jones averaged more yards per game than any other receiver in history, so Pitts has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, but the tangible skill is there to be on that level.

Pitts’ first chance is this Sunday against the Eagles, where I believe he’ll be the focal point of the offensive attack because of Philly’s lack of linebacker and safety personnel to match up with Pitts one-on-one. Jonathan Gannon is a former colleague of Arthur Smith and knows exactly the type of player Pitts can be, saying this about his matchup against the rookie:

“With Pitts, we watched all that college tape on all those DBs coming out and he was a guy that was winning consistently versus all the DBs I was watching… He jumped off the tape, and I was like, ‘Who is this guy.’ It’s going to be a challenge for us to figure out, especially in Week 1, how they are going to deploy them, what they are going to do with them and what it’s going to look like. We haven’t really started game planning for them right now, but just starting to watch some tape and having gone against Arthur a couple (of) years there when I was in Indy and he was in Tennessee, we’ll have a good plan.”

Pitts will be the X-Factor in this game and the X-Factor for the entire 2021 season. I fully expect Gannon to throw bracket coverage and a bevy of other zone concepts at Arthur Smith and Kyle Pitts. The fact of the matter is the Eagles’ defense is a porous group. The unit’s strength is along the defensive front, which can’t be overstated enough because they’re capable of ruining Atlanta’s offensive gameplan.

If the Falcons can’t stay ahead of the chains and deal with third-and-longs all day, those Eagles defensive linemen will be able to pin their ears back and get after a less-than-stellar Falcons offensive line. Still, if Matt Ryan can get the offense into third and manageable, Arthur Smith should be able to dial up plays that take pressure off the offensive line.

Plays with Kyle Pitts singled out wide, in bunch sets, or motion will all give Pitts an easy way of gaining more yardage with his legs — YAC. Gannon knows it will be difficult to defend Pitts regardless of his personnel, but with Darius Slay and Steven Nelson, the strength is clearly not at positions who will be defending Pitts.

Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage are washes against those two if Slay returns to his form from a couple of seasons ago, which leaves Smith to attack the middle of the field with Hayden Hurst and Kyle Pitts. Expect a big day from the rookie phenom.


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