Falcons HC Arthur Smith explains Kyle Pitts' goal-line absence

© File photo Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) works against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Atlanta Falcons had so many needs entering the 2021 draft that it was impossible to address them all. Instead, the team selected arguably the best overall talent in Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick and held off on a rebuild. After a lopsided loss to the Eagles in Week 1, Falcons fans were rightfully critical of the team’s six-point offensive performance.

A good portion of the blame has gone to the offensive line, but many are also questioning why Pitts was not in the game when the offense got into the red zone on the first drive. Head coach Arthur Smith addressed the topic on Wednesday when he joined the Dukes and Bell radio program on 92.9 The Game.

“Let’s be real, that’s a real kind of surface-thinking narrative,” said Smith. “Sometimes it’s as practical as a guy is tired, he was in there the plays before. I mean, we got a lot of guys you scheme around. Certain plays, certain concepts we feel good, whether it’s Hayden or him.”

Smith even referred to his time in Tennessee where this type of player management happens.

“It happened a million times where we may have schemed something up for A.J. Brown — he had an issue and the next guy’s up and the next guy scored. So that’s what happened in some of those. We’re clearly in tune with who’s in there and who’s not.”

Pitts was featured on the first six plays of Atlanta’s opening drive. He was pulled out for one play, then brought back in for one play before being pulled for the remaining five plays. It was Pitts’ first-ever NFL action, so him getting winded on the first drive is a plausible explanation.

For what it’s worth, Pitts was featured on the goal line during the following series, however, he was called for an illegal formation penalty.


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