After making the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season, Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts was expected to have an all-world season this year. But that hasn’t been the case, and quarterback Marcus Mariota has been asked why.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Mariota admitted that he can do a better job of giving Pitts opportunities. He said that he’s been a little more conservative with his ball placement and maybe not throwing balls that Pitts could potentially catch.
“First and foremost, I can do a better job of giving Kyle more opportunities with the ball,” Mariota said via ProFootballTalk. “I think sometimes I’ve been a little too safe, a little too conservative where I’m putting the football, so giving him a chance to go get it. I think that’ll help some of his target numbers.”
Mariota conceded that it falls on him to give Pitts and the other receivers a chance to make plays. He said that even if he doesn’t make the perfect throw, he has to give players more opportunities.
“I think it comes down to me, I just got to give those guys a chance,” Mariota said. “Guys are finding a way to get open and sometimes it’s not necessarily the perfect throw. I think coming back in this season I’ve kind of tried to flush that perfectionist in me, that’s probably what my last hurdle is.
“I think some of those deep shots have always been — the kind of guy that wants the guy to just kind of catch it on the run, but with the guys that we have, the players that we have sometimes it’s giving those guys just a chance to go up and get it. I’m working on those things, those are things that we go out there and practice, so hopefully, that will transcend onto the field.”
As a rookie, Pitts had 68 receptions for 1,026 yards and a touchdown, averaging over 60 yards per game while being targeted 9-10 times per game.
This season though, Pitts’ role in the offense has been limited. While he’s had two games with 80 or more receiving yards, he’s also had six where he was held under 30.
It should be no surprise then that the Falcons passing attack ranks in the bottom half of the league. Their top 10 rushing attack is the main reason that their offense ranks ninth in points even though it ranks 25th in yards.
Can Mariota find a way to get Kyle Pitts more involved in the offense?