Third-year Atlanta Falcons receiver, Calvin Ridley, is ready to become elite.
Calvin Ridley saw his second season with the Atlanta Falcons cut short by three weeks due to an injury sustained against Carolina. Ridley ended the 2019 season just shy of 900 yards and with games left on the table, there was reason to believe that he could reach the 1,000-yard mark.
2020 will be a benchmark season for the third-year receiver. Having yet to eclipse 1,000 yards in his short NFL career, 2020 will present Ridley with near-endless opportunities to show he can be the elite receiver he was drafted to become.
Calvin Ridley did use this past offseason to take the appropriate steps to better develop his game and become a better receiver.
Nonetheless, if Ridley wishes to have this breakout season and be considered an elite, young talent, then he must get off to a better start in 2020. Throughout the first 10 weeks of 2019, Ridley only accounted for an average of four receptions per game.
Atlanta Falcons lost Calvin Ridley after Week 10 in 2019
This wasn’t due to his lack of involvement in the offense as he only dipped below 65 percent of the offensive snaps one time in this span of weeks. In Week 3 when the Atlanta Falcons faced off against the Colts, Ridley was featured on 75 percent of the offensive plays and only accounted for one catch for six yards.
Yes, Ridley had an exceptional second season in the NFL and was destined for a 1,000-yard season. However, there’s no real excuse as to why he didn’t already have 1,000 yards before his injury. It’s not like Ridley saw an increase in targets with the departure of Mohamed Sanu, because those lost targets found their way to Russell Gage instead.
In fact, if we compare the first nine games for Ridley and the last nine games for Gage, Gage beats Ridley in targets, receptions, and catch percentage. Ridley did, however, beat out Gage for total yards. If we go deeper and expand these stats to 16 games, Gage would have 80 receptions on 117 targets and Ridley would only account for 64 receptions on 100 attempts.
The real only difference between the two receivers is their average yards per catch, which Ridley is ahead by two yards. Ridley did see the final four games of 2019 be his best run of form in his short career, but with the intent of being an elite receiver, Ridley must have a hot start to 2020 not only for his sake but for the Atlanta Falcons as a team.
Matt Ryan did lose his second go-to guy and won’t be looking at Julio to make up for those lost targets – Julio will get his targets regardless, expect another 120+ target season. Ryan will be checking the guys beneath Julio and see who’s going to step up and there are a number of guys chipping at the heel of Ridley with something to prove.
Russell Gage is trying to cement himself in this Atlanta Falcons offense, LaQuon Treadwell is trying to reinvent his NFL career, and Hayden Hurst is trying to prove he’s not just a blocking tight end.
I do believe Ridley will get his due and have a tremendous year and is here to stay with the Atlanta Falcons for years to come. However, with the weapons on this offense, it’s not going to come as easily as we would like to believe, especially playing some tough opponents at the start of the season.