There are very few Falcons fans—and heck, maybe non-Falcons fans—who are expecting Calvin Ridley to fall on his face in 2020. When you put up over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns in your first two seasons and you’re widely recognized as a tremendous talent with stellar route running capabilities, that third year looks pretty promising.
That doesn’t mean we don’t like to hear more about why and how Ridley might break out, as well as how spectacular it might be. Let’s do that again this morning.
NFL analyst Alex Rollins, who broke down Todd Gurley’s usage in 2019 and why he’s bullish on the veteran back in 2020, has returned to take a closer look at Ridley’s outlook for the year ahead and calls him the breakout receiver in the NFL this coming year. In judging Ridley’s ceiling for 2020, he’s taking a closer look at some of the fun ways #18 wins against cornerbacks unfortunate enough to have to cover him.
As Rollins notes, Football Outsiders had Ridley as a far more efficient receiver than Julio Jones in 2019, which says an awful lot about how good Ridley is and can be. He was also, as Rollins breaks down in his video, given more cushion on average than any other NFL receiver, because Ridley’s quick feet and ability to fight his way through physical cornerbacks means defenses live in fear of trying to jam him near the line and losing him deep. As the clip below illustrates, however, Ridley is such a technician that it’s possible for him to beat you deep even if you’re not right in front of him.
The thrust of the video is exactly what you’d think it is: Ridley’s going to break out because Ridley is great, and because Ridley has an opportunity this year that wasn’t there the past two seasons. In his rookie year, he was a young player trying to get targets alongside Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, and Tevin Coleman, while last year he certainly got looks but still was the third option at times until Sanu left town. With Sanu and Hooper gone, there figures to be many more opportunities for Ridley to draw Matt Ryan’s eye, and it’s hard to think he’ll fail to do so.
If the 1,000 yard seasons haven’t come yet, it’s chiefly because injury took a bite out of last year, given that he was on pace to do that easily. There’s always the danger that Ridley is this year’s much-hyped receiver who didn’t quite live up to this potential, but when you consider how good and how motivated he is, I genuinely doubt that happens so long as he’s healthy.
Watch the full video below and let us know where you think Ridley ends up in 2020.