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Florida Gators in the NFL, Week 2: Can someone please free Kyle Pitts?

The Falcons can’t figure out how to get their young superstar touches. And the Giants are being equally dumb with Kadarius Toney.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The situations that Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney have found themselves in to start the 2022 season couldn’t be more different. And yet there is one common denominator for the former first-round picks — frustration.

The Atlanta Falcons have a .438 winning percentage — that’s their all-time winning percentage. Only four NFL teams are worse over their existences. And even when they’re good, well, they’re also not: Their most recent Super Bowl appearance is one of the most famous collapses ever, their other one featured an implosion of their defense after a pre-game arrest, and their most exciting player ever went to prison on federal charges.

Their current head coach is Arthur Smith. His career record as a head coach is 7-12, for a .368 winning percentage that is kind of impressive in the sense that he is even worse than the standard long set in the heart of Georgia. So when Smith talks about doing what gives the Falcons the best chance of winning, you really gotta pay attention.

I’m not a football coach, although I have won two Los Alamitos Friday Night Lights championships in the past three years. But I have a humble suggestion: Maybe, just maybe, utilizing a generational talent who is a mismatch nightmare on just about every play might have made a difference in the Falcons’ two close losses.

Pitts had a fantastic rookie season, although his lack of usage in the red zone was perplexing. So far this year, though, it’s been Pitts’ complete lack of involvement in the entire offensive gameplan that isn’t just perplexing, it’s downright brain-dead.

Smith has defended his use of Pitts as a blocker and as a decoy for other receivers to get open. It’s coaching malpractice that Olamide Zaccheaus has almost twice as many receiving yards and KhaDarel Hodge has almost three times as many. With the game on the line as the Falcons tried to complete an improbable comeback against the Rams, Marcus Mariota threw a jump ball to a double-covered Bryan Edwards rather than to Pitts, who had single coverage.

Unlike the Falcons, the Giants are a proud franchise with a long history of success; it’s just in recent years that they’ve been abysmal. But this season, the Giants are off to a surprising 2-0 start behind new head coach Brian Daboll.

Daboll is known as an offensive guru, surely someone who would see Toney’s gifts and salivate and all the dynamic ways he could be used on the field.

Instead, Toney saw seven snaps in Week 1 and touched the ball twice. In Week 2, his snap count jumped to 28 — but again, he ended the game with only two touches. Instead, guys named David Sills are out there doing things like this...

...and committing penalties that negate big plays by Toney.

Or Daniel Jones is missing a wide open Toney for what could have been a monster play.

Two tremendous Gators talents have been buried treasure so far to start the season. It’s #FreePitts and #FreeToney in Week 3 — and maybe until their teams can dig it.


It wasn’t a breakout game for Dameon Pierce, but after last week’s limited snaps, it was a start. Pierce had 77 yards on 16 touches and showed all the traits that excited those of us driving his bandwagon. This week, against a weak Bears defense, Pierce could be looking at his first 100-yard game.

Demarcus Robinson scored the first touchdown of the season by a former Gator. It was his first as a Raven and his 15th receiving TD overall, tying him with Trey Burton for 17th among former Gators on the all-time list. It was also well-earned, as he ran a helluva route, feinting outside before cutting inside for the easy score.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and his Eagles teammates had a big night against the Vikings Monday, limiting Minnesota to seven points, picking off Kirk Cousins three times, and holding Justin Jefferson to six grabs for 48 yards. Ceedy Deuce famously tweeted that Jefferson “ain’t griddy all night” a couple years ago when the Saints shut him down. There has been no new tweet in that vein yet, but Gardner-Johnson had a celebration dance ready after a Darius Slay interception.

Trent Brown rebounded from a mediocre Week 1 with a dominant performance against the Steelers. He allowed only two pressures and no sacks while being a road-grader in the run game. As Brown goes, so goes the Patriots offense.

Teez Tabor’s tremendous preseason didn’t translate into a roster spot in Atlanta. He spent Week 1 on the Falcons practice squad. But after Jamal Adams suffered a season-ending injury, the Seahawks poached Tabor. He saw limited action on special teams.

Tommy Townsend matched his career-high with six punts and set a new career-high with a bounce-aided 74-yarder. Bonus points for Townsend stopping to say “hell yeah, Go Gators” when I showed him my Gators socks as he arrived at Arrowhead before the game.

It was also a good day for kickers. Eddy Piñeiro’s field goal streak now stands at 23 straight after he drilled three, and Evan McPherson bounced back from his wild Week 1 with three makes and no misses as well.

Player of the Week

I wrote about the end of Jawaan Taylor’s ironman streak last week after he missed Jacksonville’s final drive with cramps. What I failed to mention was that he also played one of his better games in Week 1, allowing no pressures or sacks.

In Week 2, not only was Taylor back on the field for every snap, he once again didn’t allow a single pressure.

This is Taylor’s best stretch of football as a pro. He was fighting for his job this preseason, with injury helping Walker Little get significant time to push him, and now he’s been reborn in Doug Pederson’s offense.

Play of the Week

When I visited Cowboys training camp in August, I saw Dante Fowler lined up inside during pass rush drills. In what many teams call their “NASCAR” package, the Cowboys had four pass rushers lined up across the defensive line. On Sunday, Fowler took advantage of the package to wreak havoc on the Bengals.

On his first sack of the season, Fowler combines a bull rush with a spin move, then swipes down on Joe Burrow to knock the ball loose too. It’s a clever combination of moves, and if Fowler can stay on the field, he could be headed one of his better sack totals of his career.

Of course, he also won’t get to play the Bengals again until the Super Bowl — and no other NFL team is within two sacks of the 13 the defending AFC champs have allowed this year.

Here are all of the Week 2 stats (ranked and tiered in order of performance):

The Good

  • Jawaan Taylor, JAX, RT

Week 2: 71 snaps (100%)

  • Dante Fowler, Jr., DAL, OLB

Week 2: 1 sack, 2 tackles, 1 FF, 1 PD, 1 QB hit, 21 snaps (30%)

  • Trent Brown, NE, RT

Week 2: 68 snaps (100%)

  • Jonathan Greenard, HOU, DE

Week 2: 1 sack, 1 tackle, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits, 42 snaps (58%)

  • Dameon Pierce, HOU, RB

Week 2: 15 rush, 69 yards, 1 rec, 8 yards, 39 snaps (62%)

  • Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, PHI, S

Week 2: 5 tackles, 61 snaps (100%)

  • Marcus Maye, NO, S

Week 2: 4 tackles, 57 snaps (85%)

  • Carlos Dunlap, KC, DE

Week 2: 3 tackles, 1 QB hit, 17 snaps (23%)

  • Alex Anzalone, DET, LB

Week 2: 6 tackles, 67 snaps (91%)

  • D.J. Humphries, ARI, LT

Week 2: 86 snaps (99%)

  • Demarcus Robinson, KC, WR

Week 2: 1 rec, 2 targets, 12 yards, 1 TD, 23 snaps (39%)

  • Tyrie Cleveland, DEN, WR

Week 2: 2 rec, 28 yards, 31 OFF snaps (43%), 18 ST snaps (69%)

  • Kaiir Elam, BUF, CB

Week 2: 4 tackles, 1 pass defended, 37 snaps (66%)

  • Kyle Pitts, ATL, TE

Week 2: 2 rec, 3 targets, 19 yards, 57 snaps (93%)

  • Marco Wilson, ARI, CB

Week 2: 4 tackles, 65 snaps (97%)

  • C.J. Henderson, CAR, CB

Week 2: 3 tackles, 49 snaps (67%), 4 ST snaps (13%)

  • Eddy Pineiro, NYJ, K

Week 2: 3/3 FG, Long 38, 1/1 XP

  • Evan McPherson, CIN, K

Week 2: 3/3 FG, Long 50

  • Tommy Townsend, KC, P

Week 2: 6 punts, 55.5 avg

  • Taven Bryan, CLE, DT

Week 2: 1 tackle, 50 snaps (71%), 8 ST snaps (27%)

  • Jonathan Bullard, MIN, DT

Week 2: 3 tackles, 29 snaps (40%)

The Limited

  • Brandon Powell, LAR, WR

Week 2: 1 rush, -26 yards, 1 rec, 6 yards, 1 KR, 15.0 avg, 1 PR, -1 yards, 6 OFF snaps (10%), 11 ST snaps (48%)

  • Kadarius Toney, NYG, WR

Week 2: 2 rec, 0 yards, 28 snaps (38%)

  • T.J. Slaton, GB, DT

Week 2: no stats, 14 snaps (34%), 7 ST snaps (32%)

  • Jeff Driskel, QB, HOU

Week 2: 1 rush, 10 yards, 3 snaps (5%)

  • Zach Carter, CIN, DT

Week 2: no stats, 12 DEF snaps (20%), 4 ST snaps (15%)

  • Jon Bostic, WAS, LB

Week 2: no stats, 24 ST snaps (75%)

  • Keanu Neal, TB, S

Week 2: no stats, 2 snaps (3%), 11 ST snaps (42%)

  • Marcell Harris, NYJ, LB/S

Week 2: no stats, 20 ST snaps (67%)

  • Teez Tabor, ATL, S

Week 2: 8 ST snaps (35%)

  • Fred Johnson, TB, G/T

Week 2: 4 ST snaps (15%)

  • Max Garcia, ARI, G

Week 2: 1 ST snap (5%)

  • Stone Forsythe, SEA, T

Week 2: 1 ST snaps (4%)

The Inactive

  • Van Jefferson, LAR, WR: Inactive (Knee)
  • Kyle Trask, TB, QB: Inactive
  • Feleipe Franks, ATL, TE: Inactive

The Practice Squad

  • Freddie Swain, MIA, WR
  • Malik Davis, DAL, RB
  • Jarrad Davis, DET, LB
  • Jeremiah Moon, BAL, LB
  • David Sharpe, BAL, T
  • Jabari Zuniga, SEA, DE