For the first time in more than almost 20 years, the Atlanta Falcons are uncertain about who their top two playmakers at wide receiver will be coming into the season.
The Atlanta Falcons have been very lucky for most of the century in regards to has lined up at wide receiver for them. They have had some great pass through the city from the first 1,000-yard season receiver in Wallace Francis to Andre Rison, Eric Metcalf, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley.
With Julio now in Nashville, who becomes the top targets for Matt Ryan?
The number is obvious – Calvin Ridley slides over and takes the reigns from Julio in that regard but who is the number two? That answer isn’t as simple.
In all 13 years of his professional career, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has helped someone on the receiver corps get to 1,000 yards receiving, and several times, he has had more than one receiver get to that mark in the same season.
In 2021, Calvin Ridley is going to be the leader in the receiver room
Through his first three seasons in Atlanta, Ridley has accumulated more than 3,000 receiving yards, 26 receiving touchdowns, and a catch rate of 66 percent. No other receiver on the team has more than the 1,295 yards that Russell Gage has accumulated during that same time frame.
Looking at the roster as currently constructed, the number two receiver for 2021 will be playmaker Kyle Pitts.
At this point, it’s ridiculous to label Pitts a tight end.
He is a matchup nightmare and while he will be used to block at times, his main purpose under Arthur Smith will be to win matchups all over the field – much like Julio did his entire career in Atlanta. While it may be too early to make this proclamation, there won’t be a linebacker, corner, or safety that will be able to lock down Pitts in the passing game.
He has that type of ability and explosiveness.
The toughest part for Smith as a play-caller will be designing routes and plays that benefit everyone involved – Ridley, Pitts, Gage, Russell Gage, Mike Davis, and the other young guys on this roster that are capable of helping this offense take the next step.
There are a lot of doubts about this Atlanta Falcons offense coming into the 2021 season with all the change in personnel and philosophy, there is plenty of talent to replace those that are gone and be even better than they have been over the last several years.