Atlanta Falcons: Hayden Hurst’s career day in brutal Lions loss

Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst had a career day in Sunday’s loss to the Lions.

Hayden Hurst had big shoes to fill for the Atlanta Falcons when he acquired via trade with the Baltimore Ravens over the offseason. He was going to be taking over the spot vacated by Pro Bowl tight end, Austin Hooper.

Fans were unhappy with the trade, even though the club simply gave up an additional second-round pick. In the minds of fans, if he wasn’t good enough in Baltimore to get playing time, then he would be useless here in Atlanta.

Instead, he has outperformed Austin Hooper in 2020 so far.

Through the first six games (not including this week) of the 2020 season, Hurst has 19 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile in Cleveland, Hooper has 22 receptions for 205 yards and just one touchdown.

No, Hurst isn’t putting up the eye-opening numbers that Hooper did in 2019, but that was a result of spending four seasons with Matt Ryan and the two of them building chemistry. Hurst and Ryan had no offseason together because of COVID-19.

Hayden Hurst has to be more involved with the Atlanta Falcons offense.

Sunday versus the Lions, Hayden Hurst had a career-high in catches with six and just missed breaking his career-high in yards as he totaled 68 yards in those six receptions. His career-high in receiving yards was set last year with Baltimore as he totaled 73 yards against the Bills in December.

Hurst had said this week Dirk Koetter had been working on a package for him this week and it showed early as Hurst had five catches in the first half against the Lions. For some reason, Koetter and Matt Ryan went away from Hurst in the second half and it showed on the scoreboard.

Through his first seven games with the Atlanta Falcons, Hurst has shown the ability to be a top playmaking tight end in the NFC but at some point, his offensive coordinator and quarterback have to make a concerted decision to keep him involved as good things clearly happen when they do.