Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Smith to Kyle Pitts: ‘Don’t live through your avatar’


Arthur Smith and the Atlanta Falcons are learning a few lessons the hard way this season, the rookie coach said Monday.

For one, breakout rookie tight end Kyle Pitts coming back to Earth courtesy of a session with Panthers shutdown cover man Stephon Gilmore.

Asked what Pitts could learn from Sunday’s battle with Gilmore, Smith said, “don’t live through your avatar.”

“It’s a fake world, and we’re all guilty of it,” Smith said. “He’s got to look at the big picture and the process. It’s a tough profession. It’s a tough league. I said it last week, coaches and players, you’ll get humbled real quick if you’re not ready. That’s the grind of the National Football League. … It’s a lesson learned for him. Give Gilmore credit. My money is on Kyle will learn from it (and) if he takes that mindset, he’ll be just fine.”

Coming off a dominant performance in the Falcons’ 30-28 win over the Dolphins, Pitts was held to two catches for 13 yards in Gilmore’s debut with the Panthers. He had 16 receptions and 282 yards in the two previous games, wins over Miami and the New York Jets.

Smith didn’t place the blame on Pitts, who is getting more attention with wide receiver Calvin Ridley out for the second time in three weeks to address his mental health. Ridley is not expected to play this week.

Regardless of his personnel on the perimeter, Smith expects the Falcons to pick up the performance on the line of scrimmage.

“Until they change the rules of the game, if you’re losing the line of scrimmage, it’s hard to win,” Smith said of the 19-13 loss to the Panthers.

“We’re going to win and lose games as an entire team. You’ve got to give Carolina credit. They beat us on the line of scrimmage both sides of the football. They had a game plan to come in here and execute and they stuck with it.”

Carolina had two interceptions, recorded three sacks and ran 72 plays to 50 for Atlanta while rushing for 203 yards without All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

Smith said the inability to put pressure on the Panthers was “frustrating” and a grave concern based on what he’s seen from the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are one spot behind the Panthers — and sixth in the NFL — with 219 rushing attempts in 2021.

“They beat us on both sides of the line of scrimmage,” Smith said. “We better fix it in a hurry. We’re going down to a hornet’s nest in New Orleans. You can probably take a good educated guess what their game plan is going to be.”

New Orleans knocked off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday but lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston. In Tennessee last season, Smith worked closely with Trevor Siemian, who replaced Winston in the victory over Tampa. He was the Titans’ emergency quarterback on the practice squad.

“We’ll look at Trevor,” Smith said of how he’ll prepare this week. “He’s a good guy, smart player. He played (Sunday) and played well.”

–Field Level Media