Welcome to your Sunday afternoon open thread, folks. Today we’re going to tackle a hypothetical that will make many of us feel old, which is perhaps the best kind of hypothetical.
Here’s the windup: Julio Jones has led the team in receiving every season from 2014-2019, a six season span, and he’s been close to leading the NFL in yardage and receptions in that time, too. It seems like that run will last forever because we’re so used to seeing Julio dominate, but the reality is that even the greats tend to slow down once they rush past 30. Could this be the year we see Calvin Ridley eclipse Julio as the top option in the passing game?
The answer is probably no for one more year, but I think it’s worth a spirited debate. If you’ll recall, Julio actually did not lead the team in receiving at any point from 2011-2013 because of injury (2013) and because of the presence of the great Roddy White, who was still rolling along at that point. Roddy was still dominant in his age-31 season—the year we’re about to see for Julio—but did noticeably decline after that point, and Julio had little trouble eclipsing him in 2014.
Similarly, the Falcons have a tremendous younger talent behind Julio who could absolutely out-produce him at some point in the coming years. Ridley was on track to bust past 1,000 yards a year ago until he got hurt, and finished with 866 yards and 63 receptions in just 13 games. It’s not a huge stretch to suggest he’ll at least be in the neighborhood of #11 in 2020.
What say you? Will Ridley surpass Julio in production in 2020, will he have to wait until 2021, or is it never going to happen because Julio is ageless?