The Falcons offense was awful, make no mistake. The offensive line was beat regularly and often. Matt Ryan made some awful decisions. The running game was mostly ineffective again. Dirk Koetter is running a predictable and uninspiring offense. Yet, several young players played well, giving us some hope that 2020 won’t be a complete rebuild. Let’s take a look at some young guys who deserve attention.
For someone who was on the practice squad just a few weeks ago, Blake has done a nice job since coming up. On Thursday, he was targeted 9 times and hauled in 6 of those passes for 57 yards. On top of that, he drew a couple of pass interference calls that helped keep the offense moving. He also regularly had Eli Apple twisted around. I’m very curious to see how he can develop over the remainder of the season. As a fourth receiver, I like his potential.
The 2nd year tight end out of Yale has shown us why the team felt comfortable moving on from Eric Saubert this year. He’s no Austin Hooper, but as a 2nd receiving tight end option he is a great find for an un-drafted player. He pulled in all 4 of his targets for 41 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. He’s also been a fairly effective blocker. Considering this is his first full year on the active roster, I’m excited to see how he can grow into a TE2 role with the team.
When the Falcons traded Mohamed Sanu, it was partly because of the rapid development of this guy. Originally drafted for his special teams prowess, Gage has quickly become a legitimate receiving threat. He pulled in 5 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. He needs to work on his hands this off-season, but as a WR3 behind Julio and Calvin, he is fitting the bill nicely. As long as he continues to develop, Atlanta will have a good 1-2-3 punch at receiver for the next few years.
Ridley has gotten better as the season has progressed and he is becoming more and more reliable with time. He pulled in 8 of his 10 targets for 91 yards on Thursday. On a day where he was seeing double-coverage and drawing the best opposing corner, he was still able to deliver.
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