The New England Patriots are arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now. Surely, they should have no problem taking care of business against the Atlanta Falcons, right? Well, Bill Belichick sees an elite talent on the other sideline in tight end Kyle Pitts.
Belichick knows his defense will need to bring its A-game to slow down the ultra-talented Falcons rookie on Thursday Night Football.
Bill Belichick has high praise for Kyle Pitts
Kyle Pitts garnered a great deal of hype heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. He flashed his explosiveness and elite athleticism during his time playing for the Florida Gators.
Pitts skyrocketed to the top of NFL draft boards. The Atlanta Falcons couldn’t pass up the opportunity to select him with the No. 4 overall pick.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick understands what the rookie tight end brings to the table and recently gave him praise before their matchup.
“Everything is a problem,” he told WEEI. “This guy, I thought last year in the draft, just watching him, he’s phenomenal. He’s big, he’s fast, got great hands, and adjusts to the ball. Makes tough catches. Savvy route-runner and can get open. Very hard to match up against.”
Belichick thinks Pitts can do it all out there. He even gave the tight end a major compliment by comparing him to two of the best pass-catchers in NFL history.
“I was reading through some of the Atlanta comments, and you hear them comparing him to a cross between Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones, and I’d say that’s about right,” said Belichick. “That’s what it looks like. This guy is one of the superstars of the NFL already.”
Belichick also predicts a bright NFL future for Kyle Pitts. “I’m sure he’ll break all the tight end rookie receiving records. This guy’s got a tremendous career in front of him.”
The Patriots will need to account for the rookie tight end
If Bill Belichick is going out of his way to give such great compliments, that holds weight. Kyle Pitts undoubtedly possesses the requisite skills to be a special player in the NFL for years to come.
As talented as Pitts is, New England’s head man has a proven track record of top-tier game-planning. Belichick knows that his Patriots’ defense will have its work cut out against the Atlanta Falcons’ rookie.
“He can play every position. He plays the end of the line of scrimmage, he can play in the slot, can play outside,” he said. “He’s got a great skillset. He’s competitive. He’ll block. He’s good after the catch. He’s a matchup nightmare.”
The 27-year head coach is talking about Pitts for a reason. Best believe he’s the focal point of the defensive game plan when the Falcons have the football.
Without Calvin Ridley on the field, Kyle Pitts is Atlanta’s best pass-catcher.
The Patriots’ defense will try to take him out of the game as much as possible. The unit has been phenomenal so far in 2021. Teams have moved the football against New England, but the defense has kept teams out of the end zone. Belichick’s squad is allowing just 17.7 points per game to opposing offenses.
The Patriots will need to make sure they know where the rookie tight end is at all times, but especially in the red zone.
The Falcons are finally utilizing Pitts’ skill set
The Atlanta Falcons seemed to take a cautious approach with Kyle Pitts in the preseason. He saw limited action, as the team appeared to be saving the highly-touted rookie for the regular season.
Pitts got off to a slow start in Atlanta’s offense, which was somewhat concerning. He had just 11 catches through the first three games. However, Matt Ryan and questionable play-calling could’ve played a role.
After serving as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith took over as the Falcons’ head coach before the 2021 season.
In Tennessee, Smith utilized his tight ends heavily, helping Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith enjoy a breakout season. Pitts is a better athlete, and he’s finally found his footing in this offense.
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native has recorded 40 receptions for 606 yards and one touchdown. He’s the first tight end in NFL history to have 40 receptions and 600 yards in his first nine career games.
According to Pro Football Focus, Pitts has a grade of 89.4 against man coverage. He’s a matchup nightmare, indeed.
Bill Belichick’s Patriots will do everything they can to limit his opportunities and get their fifth consecutive win.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference