Veteran coach on covering Kyle Pitts: It’s a real challenge, it’s a pain

532211010009 nyj v atl

The Falcons used Kyle Pitts all over the field during his rookie season. More so than any other tight end, Pitts was deadly on the boundary because of his remarkable combination of size and speed; he actually ranked FIRST among all WIDE RECEIVERS in yards per route run on the boundary. But Arthur Smith is looking to get him even more mismatches this season, which means we could see him line up attached to the line of scrimmage more to draw safeties and linebackers in coverage.

67.8% of Pitts’ snaps came lined up in the slot or out wide, likely due to the offense’s lack of options at the receiver position. Calvin Ridley stepping away from the team put Smith in a situation where he was forced to use Pitts as a receiver. However, he was effective wherever he lined up. What makes this even scarier for opposing defensive coordinators is reports coming out of camp suggest Pitts is just scratching the surface.

The people inside the building know this better than anyone. Arthur Smith, for one, will attest to the incredible ceiling the young man out of Florida possesses. “With all these rookies, everything’s new to them. New environment, new team, new staff and new terminology,” Smith said. “As you’ve seen with Kyle Pitts, as he progressed through last season – I’ve said this many times – he’s just scratching the surface. You see a different player and mindset.”

Veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees has to face Pitts every day in practice, so nobody knows how difficult covering Pitts is than him.

“Ugh,” Pees said. “What is he? Is he a wide receiver, is he a tight end? The thing about him is now is, he’s blocking pretty well. It used to be, ‘hey, he’s just a wide receiver, he may be in the tight end position, but he’s just a wide receiver.’ But he’s actually blocking pretty well. So, it’s a real challenge. It’s a pain.”

And to sweeten the pot, Pees likens Kyle Pitts to two of the greatest tight ends to ever strap it up.

“When you get a guy like (Pitts), who also can run by a DB,” Pees added. “There’s some tight ends, there’s a lot of them, (Travis) Kelce, a lot of guys in the league that are tough matchup tight ends, (Tony) Gonzalez was one. Most of the time, you’re not worried about them running by a corner. This guy can run by a corner, so that’s a real challenge.”

If there’s one area where Pitts could improve, analysts will point to his touchdown total as worrisome. But that’s not how NFL coaches see it. Pees elaborated on where he’s most impressed with Pitts’ development.

“In camp, when we put the pads on (is when he stood out),” said Pees. “You’re not tackling, but you’re still going hard, especially up front. You can notice a big difference in him. I just think he’s really improved in that area, which now makes it even harder on teams.”

If Kyle Pitts can become a viable blocking option, it will open Arthur Smith’s offense up that much more and, conversely, for the tight end phenom.

Photographer: Shaun Brooks/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: