The Atlanta Falcons boarded the plane for the long flight to London, England without key players including Calvin Ridley.
The Falcons stated Ridley’s absence is due to a personal matter and no other information was made available. To make the situation worse, Atlanta’s number two receiver, Russell Gage is also out. Has anyone checked on the New York Jets’ whereabouts? Last week they beat the Tennessee Titans who were also missing their top two wide receivers.
All kidding aside, this is a big blow to the Dirty Birds team that has been struggling to develop consistency on offense. Ridley recently admitted he was still trying to figure it out, as he is working with a new system and rookie head coach Arthur Smith calling the plays. Ridley has 27 catches but has been targeted 42 times in the first four weeks of the season.
He dropped some balls last week and has been inconsistent. This is his first season as the true number one with the departure of Julio Jones, but he has only amassed 255 receiving yards, an average of fewer than 64 yards per game.
Falcons Will Look Outside Receiving Core For Options
The Falcons coaching staff will spend the time in the air to figure out the new depth chart that will likely include more than just moving up the receivers. After the first two, the Falcons don’t have much in the receiving core. Olamide Zaccheaus, the number three receiver will likely be the number one. He has six catches and a touchdown while seeing limited action.
The third-year receiver out of Virginia will have a rare chance to shine with the depth chart so depleted. Behind him, there is Christian Blake, who has just one catch for eight yards this season, Tajae Sharpe who has four catches, and rookie Frank Darby who hasn’t seen the field much.
Cordarrelle Patterson has been the team’s most valuable player due to his versatility.
Patterson was acquired as a wide receiver and kick returner but has been in the backfield and practicing with the running backs. Patterson had three touchdowns through the air against the Washington Football Team in Week 4. He had six catches for 82 yards and tacked on another 34 rushing yards on six carries. It’s much more likely Atlanta puts him out wide and gives third-string running back Wayne Gallman more snaps. But Mike Davis will have to carry the load in the backfield.
Kyle Pitts and the tight end group can take some of the load off of the receiving core. The Falcons have been criticized for not targeting their first-round pick more often. There will be plenty of chances for Pitts to get the ball against New York. Hayden Hurst is no slouch in the number two spot, he had 56 catches for the Falcons last season.
One small silver lining, the Falcons have been studying film all week to decipher how the Jets beat the Titans, with Tennessee missing its top receivers. Now Atlanta is in the same spot and must learn from the Titans’ mistakes.