Through eight games as a rookie last year, Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts had 36 receptions for 546 yards with one touchdown.
Through eight games in 2022, Pitts has 23 receptions for just 285 yards, albeit with a pair of TDs.
Atlanta’s pass game is dramatically different with Marcus Mariota at quarterback instead of Matt Ryan. While the team is third in rushing attempts and fourth in rushing yards, it’s 30th in passing attempts and passing yards.
With the Falcons beginning the Week 10 slate on Thursday against the Panthers, Mariota told reporters on Tuesday that he knows he can increase Pitts’ production.
“First and foremost, I can do a better job of giving Kyle more opportunities with the ball,” Mariota said in his press conference. “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 has struggled with downfield throws at times, including in the Falcons’ most recent loss to the Chargers. If Mariota can tighten up that part of his game, Pitts’ numbers should rise.
“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.”