You know the story by now, the Atlanta Falcons decision to select Kyle Pitts over Justin Fields. It has been criticized by the media and fans since April.
People who do not like Matt Ryan or those who think he is finished, continue to complain about the team not taking a quarterback with the fourth overall pick and instead taking the most talented tight end to ever come out of college.
Well, the aforementioned Justin Fields made his first start on Sunday, and he led one of the worst offensive performances in NFL history.
The Bears showed exactly why the Atlanta Falcons made the correct decision.
The Falcons did not take Justin Fields, simple as that. They felt they made the right decision and truthfully only time will tell if it really was the right decision, but for now, it certainly looks like it was.
This is not meant to degrade Justin Fields or say he is a bust, because it was one game with many more to come. But it was an awful game at that, and it lies on his shoulders as well as his teammates.
We all know how bad the Falcons offensive line has been, they are easily been one of the worst in the NFL so far this year—probably even worse than Chicago’s.
With that being said let’s look at Justin Fields statistics in his first game.
- 6 completions on 20 attempts
- 30% completion
- 68 passing yards
- 41.3 passer rating
- 9 sacks for 67 yards lost
- 3 rushes for 12 yards
To say that is awful is an understatement—the number of sacks he took was more than the number of completed passes he had.
Was this all his fault? Absolutely not, as being sacked nine times points towards an offensive line that struggled in the worst way possible, but that same thing can be said about the Atlanta Falcons in the first two games.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Atlanta Falcons have had a worse pass-blocking grade on the year than the Chicago Bears have.
Atlanta has a 54.9 pass-blocking grade compared to Chicago’s 63.8. Now, of course, this is on the entire year and the Bears have not given up nine sacks in each game, so we will look at each teams’ two worst pass-blocking games.
It will not surprise anyone that Atlanta’s came in week one when they had a 40.5 overall pass-blocking grade, followed up by a 54.2 grade in week two.
Comparing this to Chicago who had a 47.9 pass-blocking grade in week one and a 49 grade in week three, which were by far the worst two out of the three games they have played.
The grades point show that Justin Fields was not even the victim of the worst performance by the offensive line on the year for Chicago—that went to Andy Dalton—so Dalton took a third of the sacks that Justin Fields did on Sunday in a pass-blocking performance that was worse than what Fields saw.
This shows the difference between a veteran and a rookie, Andy Dalton has nowhere near the athleticism that Fields has, but he knows the game better, resulting in an ability to evade taking sacks so consistently.
Now how does this relate to Atlanta? It is simple, Matt Ryan is a veteran, he knows how to maneuver the pocket and avoid taking nine sacks.
Ryan has had worse blocking than Fields, but somehow—much like Andy Dalton—he was able to take a third of the sack, while also consistently completing passes, unlike what the rookie did.
The Falcons are correct for not taking a quarterback, at least for now.
The unavoidable truth is that Atlanta will need to find a new quarterback at some point, as does every team, however, they have proven, so far, that they made the correct decision to not jump on it at their first opportunity.
All of this said, and a big question has not even been asked—what would the Falcons offense look like without Kyle Pitts?
The offense is playing awful right now but they would be much worse without Pitts out there and in turn, having Justin Fields sit on the bench doing nothing to help the team win.
Atlanta needs to go forward with fixing the offensive line and skill positions before it even looks for a new quarterback. Matt Ryan is doing what he can with the little help he is provided. Just because he is not a mobile quarterback does not mean that he takes more sacks than a mobile passer would.
Justin Fields had slightly better pass-blocking in week three than Matt Ryan did in week one, but yet somehow the mobile quarterback was sacked three times the amount? It shows what the difference between a veteran and a rookie is, Ryan has the experience to know when to get rid of the ball, while Fields simply does not.
So, the Atlanta Falcons made the correct decision to skip taking a quarterback in the draft. There may be an argument that they should have selected an offensive lineman, but that is a totally different story—and Kyle Pitts is showing his worth already.
Stop blasting Terry Fontenot for thinking that a top-five overall pick is the only place to find a quarterback—nothing could be farther from the truth.