The Falcons ended a miserable two-game slide on Sunday with a victory over the shocked Jaguars, which gave Atlanta every chance to win the football game with turnovers, penalties and dropped passes. The Falcons did it mostly on the legs of Cordarrelle Patterson and an impressive defensive performance.
The offensive line created lanes of traffic that a Mack truck could cross, allowing Patterson to set career highs in runs (16), rushing yards (108) and rushing touchdowns (2 ). While the defense unusually forced two turnovers to help the Falcons get back into the playoff chase as Arthur Smith has his team one game down from the Wild Card.
Kyle Pitts didn’t see much action in Sunday’s 21-14 win, ending the day with two catches on six targets for just 26 yards. The rookie phenomenon returned to his old playing field (sort of), but Pitts was held within 30 yards for the second game in a row. The Falcons ‘passing offense hasn’t been great in recent weeks and Pitts’ production has suffered. The fourth pick overall has done very little since scoring 163 yards against the Dolphins in Week 7, totaling 190 yards in the past five weeks.
Pitts is obviously one of the two focal points of this attack, the other being Patterson, so opposing defenses will be decisive for him in game plans. It shouldn’t be surprising to see the former Florida Gator surrounded by multiple defenders on a given route. Pitts will see double coverage for the rest of his professional career, but that shouldn’t stop Smith from plotting him through cluster sets, scuff roads, moves, and more.
It’s not for lack of trying, however. According to PlayerProfiler.com, Pitts tops all the sticky points in the share of overhead yards, accounting for about 29% of yards by Matt Ryan’s pass for the rookie. He obviously has a lot of opportunities. It ranks 24th for the attainable target rate, despite ranking first for the share of overhead yards among the tight ends. Pitts are averaging 14.8 yards per reception which is amazing. However, his yards per course (2.2) are mediocre; Pitts just haven’t seen Ryan’s great balls as much as other tight ends.
So, should this be of concern? In short, no. The Falcons rookie will slowly learn the nuances of NFL defenses and his own offensive system as he gains experience. Pitts is a special player, but it might take a full game plan to prepare him to open up against defenses that don’t want to throw a single cover at him. Either that or the Falcons become more proficient in the running game to force opposing defenses to keep more people in the box. The Falcons are between a rock and a hard place on this one. Without a consistent rushed attack, defenses can sit down with two deep safeties, keeping Pitts catching short passes or brackets as soon as he hits seven yards on the pitch.