Michael Pitre was hired as the Atlanta Falcons running backs coach on Jan. 31, 2022.
In his first season as the Falcons running backs coach, Atlanta offense led the NFL in fewest penalties, finished third in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 10th in third-down conversion rate. Atlanta also had the third-highest successful play rate on rushing attempts, based on EPA, at 45.1 percent. The Falcons rushing attack averaged 74.5 more rushing yards per game in 2022 than it did in 2021, resulting in the largest one-season improvement by any team since at least 2001.
With Cordarrelle Patterson (340), Tyler Allgeier (324), Marcus Mariota (280) and Caleb Huntley (265), the Falcons became the first team to have four players with at least 250 rushing yards through the first eight games of a season in NFL history. Additionally, Allgeier surpassed Williams Andrews (1,023 in 1979) for the most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history and became the sixth rookie selected in the fifth round-or-later to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards over the past 20 seasons. Patterson also set single-season career highs for rushing yards (695) and rushing touchdowns (eight).
Pitre (PEA-tree) came to Atlanta having most recently served as the running backs coach for the Chicago Bears. In 2021, the Bears' rushing attack averaged 118.7 rushing yards per game – the 14th highest in the NFL last season. Chicago's backs tallied 54 carries of 10-plus yards and 13 carries for 20-plus yards – tied for the seventh most in the league in 2021. Bears running back David Montgomery rushed for 849 yards on 225 carries (3.8 avg.) and seven touchdowns in 13 games last season.
Prior to his time in Chicago, Pitre spent three years (2018-20) at Oregon State where he served as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. In three seasons under Pitre, the Beavers' rushing attack averaged 165.8 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry and 59 rushing touchdowns.
Under Pitre, Jermar Jefferson – the Associated Press' Co-Offensive Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2020 – earned the Beavers' rushing titles in both 2018 (1,380) and 2020 (858) while also leading the entire offense in touchdowns during both seasons (2018 - 12; 2020 - 7).
Prior to his arrival Oregon State, Pitre coached running backs at Montana State from 2014-17. In his final season at MSU, the Bobcats led the Big Sky Conference and ranked seventh nationally in yards per game (249.5). Collectively, the Bobcats ranked among the Top 20 FCS rushing teams in each of Pitre's four seasons with the team, including a pair of Top 10 finishes.
Pitre received his start at the collegiate level working as a graduate assistant at the University of Colorado from 2012-13. The Buffs' rushing attack finished above 100.0 yards per game in each of Pitre's two years in Boulder. Primarily working with running backs and the offensive line, Pitre oversaw the development of NFL offensive lineman David Bakhtiari (2012) and running back Phillip Lindsay (2013).
Pitre played fullback at UCLA from 2003-07 where he was a three-year starter, appearing in 36 games and totaling 406 all-purpose yards on 58 touches (7.0 avg.) with four touchdowns. He was a team captain in 2006.