It’s been a season to forget for the Atlanta Falcons. The team entered the season with mixed optimism after finishing 7-9 in the following two seasons. Somehow, it got worse as the Falcons finished 4-12 in a year where they maneuvered through a pandemic while also relieving head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff of their duties.
One of the few bright spots this year was the further emergence of 2018 first-round draft pick wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley took a noticeable jump early in the season as he recorded 109+ receiving yards in three of the team’s first four games. Overall, Ridley finished the season with 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and 9 touchdowns.
With 1,374 receiving yards in 2020, Ridley entering the Falcons’ history books as he recorded the 9th most receiving yards in a single-season. The top-10 of that list can be found below.
- WR Julio Jones (2015) - 1,871 yards
- WR Julio Jones (2018) - 1.677 yards
- WR Julio Jones (2014) - 1,593 yards
- WR Julio Jones (2017) - 1,444 yards
- WR Julio Jones (2016) - 1,409 yards
- WR Julio Jones (2019) - 1,394 yards
- WR Roddy White (2010) - 1,389 yards
- WR Roddy White (2008) - 1,382 yards
- WR Calvin Ridley (2020) - 1,374 yards
- WR Alfred Jenkins (1981) - 1,358 yards
One thing you’ll notice about the names listed above is that they were all the team’s No. 1 wide receiver at one point, and the top receivers in franchise history. In 2020, enter Ridley who played in 15 games this season, filling the receiving gap while Julio Jones missed several games with a lingering hamstring injury. What makes Ridley’s 9th-place finish more impressive is that he did it in technically 14 games as he missed a game due to injury and recorded no stats against the Green Bay Packers in week 4.
It’s safe to also say that Ridley was snubbed from this year’s Pro Bowl as he’s the only wide receiver on the list above that wasn’t selected in the respective years. Additionally, Julio Jones (2015-2016), Roddy White (2010) and Alfred Jenkins (1981) were First-Team All-Pro selections.
Overall, Ridley’s 2020 season was tremendous and definitely the best season of his young career. To further his impressive season, he also finished with the 7th best yards per game average in Falcons history with 91.6. In his first three seasons, he has 11 games where he recorded 100+ receiving yards, and 8 of those came in 2020.
Going forward, I expect Julio Jones to return, as he should. But the debate of whether Calvin Ridley can be a No. 1 receiver needs to be put to rest. He can be and has for most of this season.