Atlanta Falcons star tight end Kyle Pitts caught all of one pass against the New York Jets in limited action Monday night. Said catch went for 52 yards from Falcons starter Marcus Mariota as Atlanta ended up taking a 16-0 lead late into the second quarter.
Meanwhile, New York’s rushing attack couldn’t get going with Michael Carter not playing in this one.
When all was said and done, New York pulled off the comeback win by the score of 24-16 after running off 24 unanswered points. Below, we look at five winners and losers from this first “Monday Night Football” game of the season.
Winner: Marcus Mariota continues to impress for the Atlanta Falcons
Signed to replace Matt Ryan as Atlanta’s stopgap starter this past offseason, Mariota has gotten off to a strong start in Atlanta. He completed both of his passes in last week’s opener against the Detroit Lions while adding 23 rushing yards and a score on the ground.
Seeing more playing time Monday night, Mariota led Atlanta to 10 points on three series. That included hitting Olamide Zaccheaus on a 13-yard touchdown strike.
Talk about an absolute dime from the former No. 2 pick. A half-decade removed from being seen as the Tennessee Titans’ franchise quarterback, Mariota is proving that he can be a QB1 for the Atlanta Falcons. At 28, it might not merely be as a stopgap option.
Loser: Not a good evening for New York Jets cornerback Bryce Hall
This former fifth-round pick out of Virginia ran with the backups Monday against Atlanta after starting all 17 games as a sophomore last season. It did not go swimmingly for the young cornerback. At. All. Zaccheaus beat him on the touchdown pass we displayed above. It’s just not a good look with Hall seemingly falling out of favor in New York.
Despite starting all 17 games last season, Hall was one of the reasons New York’s defense found itself as the worst in the NFL. He yielded a 63% completion mrk and 106.6 QB rating when targeted. Could he now be on the roster bubble?
Winner: New York Jets’ Bradlee Anae makes eye-opening play
One of the biggest keys in New York Jets’ Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme is getting pressure out on the edge. It’s one of the reasons New York exhausted a big-money contract on Carl Lawson ahead of the 2021 season and selected Jermaine Johnson in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Insterestingly enough, it’s a former Dallas Cowboys fifth-round pick who found himself pretty far down on the depth chart heading into Monday night. What we saw with New York pulling off a comeback win might benefit him moving forward.
That’s a forced fumble, fumble recovery and touchdown on one play. Given New York’s lack of depth on defense, there’s a good chance that Bradlee Anae just played himself on to the 53-man roster.
Loser: Feleipe Franks loses ground in Atlanta Falcons battle for QB2
Rookie second-round pick Desmond Ridder outperformed Franks big time against the Jets Monday night. Ridder completed 10-of-13 passes for 143 yards and led the team on two field goal drives.
Once Franks took over, the Falcons were completely shutout. He also lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in a disastrous all-around performance. If Atlanta opts to keep just two quarterbacks on the active roster, Franks could soon be out of a job.
Winner: Kyle Pitts looks to be a legit super star for the New York Jets
Last season saw Kyle Pitts was the first rookie tight end in two decades to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl. The former No. 4 pick recorded 68 receptions for 1,026 yards while catching 62% of his targets. Now with Marcus Mariota tossing him the rock, it looks like Pitts is set to become a super star. Check out this 52-yard catch from Pitts in the first quarter.
We’re talking about a tight end with the athleticism of a wide receiver. Pitts’ ability to take the top off the defense is second to none among players at his position in the NFL. He’s looking like a generational talent. He’s the face of the rebuild Atlanta Falcons. It’s that simple.