Why Kyle Pitts is primed for a big game against the Lions

NFL: SEP 17 Packers at Falcons

After the season opener, Arthur Smith received a ton of backlash for Kyle Pitts and Drake London combining for just two receptions. The latter of which showed up in the Falcons comeback win over the Packers, hauling in six receptions, one of which was a touchdown, for 67 yards. However, Pitts once again was limited to just two catches.

On the season, the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history has recorded just four catches for 59 yards. It’s not exactly the start he, the Falcons, or fans imagined as he returned from an MCL injury.

Pitts had a record-breaking introduction to the league, nearly breaking the rookie tight end record set by Mike Ditka en route to a Pro Bowl. He justified the lofty draft status, but the Falcons’ inconsistent quarterback play and run heavy offense limited Pitts’ impact in 2022.

Eventually, Pitts suffered a season-ending knee injury. It was a devastating end to a disappointing season, but the comeback this year was highly anticipated. Pitts himself even called his shot about winning the Comeback Player of the Year award.

It hasn’t happened just yet, but I’m fully expecting Kyle Pitts to explode this week against the Lions. There are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, after London put up an empty stat line in Week 1, he followed it up with a 67-yard, one-touchdown performance. Secondly, and most importantly, Detroit’s personnel could be ripe for Arthur Smith to take advantage.

In reality, London’s Week 2 has nothing to do with Pitts’ Week 3 performance, but it does suggest the Falcons are just attacking defenses in different ways each week. Arthur Smith devises a game plan to attack the opponent’s weaknesses, and this week it could be Kyle Pitts’ number that is called.

According to Will Burchfield, the Seahawks attacked the Lions linebackers on Sunday. Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes, Malcolm Rodriguez, Jack Campbell, Charles Harris and James Houston allowed 14 receptions on 14 targets for 169 yards, which prompted Pete Carroll to say, “Great job getting those (tight ends) open, because they were running clean a lot.”

Moreover, it seems C.J. Garnder-Johnson, who would also draw Pitts in certain packages, is dealing with a significant pectoral injury that will keep him out of Sunday’s contest.

Game plans vary from week to week, so there’s no guarantee that Kyle Pitts will be the focus of the Falcons’ offensive attack this week, but it seems like a prime opportunity for him to have his first big performance of the 2023 campaign.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire



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