Arthur Smith Explains Falcons Bryan Edwards Decision

Bryan Edwards and Jalen Ramsey

Getty Bryan Edwards was left out of the Falcons' first win of the season.

Arthur Smith has explained how the Atlanta Falcons used Bryan Edwards in Week 3. Actually, that should be didn’t use because the Falcons left the wide receiver inactive for Sunday’s 27-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Edwards’ absence was curious considering he wasn’t carrying an injury. Ultimately, he was just a healthy scratch by Smith.

The head coach’s decision was somewhat surprising since the Falcons deemed Edwards worthy of trading a fifth-round draft pick to the Las Vegas Raiders to acquire him this offseason.

Smith Explains Thinking Behind Edwards Snub

Smith revealed leaving Edwards out was more to do with exploring other options, rather than any damning assessment of his play through the first two games, per Josh Kendall of The Athletic:

It’s hard to reconcile those words with the decision to omit Edwards from the game-day roster entirely. Especially since the Falcons were quick to elevate Frank Darby from the practice squad.

The fact Smith is already scouring the practice squad for potential playmakers in the passing game suggests there’s some concern about those who began the season on the depth chart, including Edwards.

He was hardly a major factor during Atlanta’s opening two games, both defeats, against the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Edwards tallied just one catch for a mere two yards, hardly the production the Falcons expected when they dealt a pick to the Raiders and got a player and a seventh-rounder in return.

The expectation is for Edwards to revive his career with the Falcons, after he flopped with the Silver and Black, despite being drafted in the third round in 2020. Edwards’ chances of turning things around look promising considering he’s joined an offense designed by Smith that favors tall targets on the outside.

At 6’3″ and 215 pounds, Edwards has the physical tools to thrive within Smith’s system, but he’s found himself outplayed by two more highly-touted towering receivers.

No Room for Edwards

Finding targets for players other than record-breaking tight end Kyle Pitts and rookie Drake London is a difficult task for Smith. There’s not much reason to have quarterback Marcus Mariota throw anywhere else considering how effectively London and Pitts are dissecting defenses.

The latter endured a slow start to the season, but Pitts was busy against the Seahawks. Mariota found him five times for 87 yards, including this spectacular grab in the opening quarter:

Getting Pitts involved again made sense, and so did Mariota continuing to look London’s way. The eighth pick in this year’s draft is still playing up to his billing after adding three more catches, 54 yards and another touchdown to his burgeoning statistics.

As Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo points out, London “is already a worthy co-star” for Pitts. It’s this double act that’s keeping receivers like Edwards on the outside looking in.

There’s no need for the Falcons to complicate things on offense with players as physically gifted as London, Pitts and do-all running back Cordarrelle Patterson. Mariota simply needs to keep putting the ball into the hands of his primary playmakers.

That’s good news for the headline trio, but bad news for Edwards, although he’s not the only newcomer who’s barely been involved. The Falcons went for quantity over quality to replace Calvin Ridley after he incurred an indefinite suspension for betting violations. Their approach involved trading for Edwards and signing Damiere Byrd and KhaDarel Hodge in free agency.

Through three weeks, Byrd has yet to make a catch, while Hodge has made five grabs for 95 yards. It’s clear there isn’t much room for those not named Pitts or London to connect with Mariota.

When the few chances available come their way, players like Edwards need to do more with those opportunities.