When the Atlanta Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest drafted tight end in NFL history, the seed of hope was planted firmly and emphatically. That seed grew into an raging forest of immediate expectations, which did not seem completely fair to a 20-year-old (he’s since turned 21) who was just coming into the NFL.
The season is not even at its halfway mark, and it seems that Pitts has already had the NFL game slow down for him, and much more quickly than I could have reasonably expected.
Pitts was called to the front lines of Matt Ryan’s aerial hierarchy in Week 5 against the New York Jets, when Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage were unable to make the trip to London, and he vehemently answered that call by dismantling New York’s secondary to the tune of nine catches for 119 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Coming off of the bye week, it seems that Pitts has become even more integrated within the offense, and even the presence of Ridley and Gage to soak up targets from Ryan has been unable to stop his suddenly incredible momentum.
The Florida alum absolutely harassed Miami’s secondary, finishing second on the team in targets with eight, and racking up team highs with seven receptions for 163 receiving yards. That is, to this point, the most receiving yards amounted in a single game by any Falcon in 2021, with his performance against the Jets second on that list.
Pitts has proven to be the matchup nightmare that Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot envisioned when making such a premium draft investment in him this past April. He was routinely getting open downfield, and has continued gaining more and more of Ryan’s trust as the weeks have gone by. It helps when he can make jaw dropping catches like the one below:
Give us ALL the angles on this one-handed grab from Kyle Pitts pic.twitter.com/ai8ff4522p— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 24, 2021
Of course, not all receptions are created equal. In the big moments, quarterbacks look to their biggest playmakers to get them downfield. It’s only the sixth game of his NFL career, and Kyle Pitts has already become the guy who is looked at first in that situation.
Following Miami’s go-ahead touchdown to take a 28-27 lead late in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense took the field — on their own 25-yard-line — with 2:27 remaining to go down the field and procure any amount of points to get out of Miami with a victory.
The first play of the drive — a Ryan pass to Pitts where he faked a play action to the left and threw a dart his wide open tight end, who found the soft spot of the zone over the middle of the field for a 23-yard gain.
The next play of the drive — Kyle Pitts is lined up to the right, press covered by First-Team All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard. Pitts fakes a move to the left with a little skip, and explodes off his spot, going right by Howard down the sideline. Before his TE is even close to open, Ryan floats a perfect pass which finds the unicorn in the middle of a tiny window in between Howard and the late arrived rookie free safety Jevon Holland for a 28-yard gain. Field goal range.
Kyle Pitts is a BAAAAAD man!— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 24, 2021
: FOX pic.twitter.com/noDaiYkui5
On both plays, Pitts was clearly the first read, and on the second play it was decided that he would get the ball before it was even snapped.
The Falcons went on to kick the field goal as time expired, to get out of Miami with a win and a 3-3 record.
The Kyle Pitts breakout is just beginning, as the rookie tight end is becoming must see TV.