The light usually shines on Falcons’ seven-time Pro Bowl receiver, Julio Jones, and deservingly so. But this time, Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter shined the spotlight on Falcons rising star, Calvin Ridley.
Koetter spoke to the Atlanta media last week where he raved on and on about the former Alabama wideout.
“I think Calvin’s really good,” Koetter said, “and you know he was on track for a thousand-yard season last year. I think he would have got a thousand yards had he not had to miss those last couple of games. I think Calvin is going to continue to grow and grow and grow.”
Ridley is Back
Ridley’s 2019 season was cut just a little bit short after he suffered an abdominal injury against the Carolina Panthers in December. He missed the last three games of the year and the injury most likely set Ridley back for his first 1,000-yard season in the NFL.
However, Ridley is back for the 2020 season and made it publically known that he is more than ready to go:
They gone know ‼️
— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) February 4, 2020
We can infer that Ridley’s reply to this tweet meant he’s going to ball out, be a playmaking machine, and “they gone know” his name!!
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Football is More Than a Paycheck to Ridley
Ridley is returning for his third year in Atlanta. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected Ridley as the No. 24 overall pick. Since then, Ridley has only continued to make a lasting impression. In two seasons with the Falcons, he’s caught 127 passes for 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Ridley actually began his NFL career on a bad note and didn’t catch a single pass in his first start in the league. However, he was able to bounce back by the end of the 2018 season and finished with 64 catches for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns. That year he led the NFL’s first-year wide-outs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. The natural athlete also earned a spot on the league’s All-Rookie team. His touchdown total also surpassed the Falcons’ rookie record of nine by 1990 tight end, Junior Miller.
“Calvin loves football. You can tell it’s not just a paycheck to him. He loves it. He wants to play well and he wants to make big plays. He wants to win.”
Koetter Also Has Confidence in Russell Gage
Ridley isn’t the only receiver Koetter is confident in, Russell Gage is expected to have a breakout year too.
In the nine games where he saw the field, Gage was targeted 66 times and caught 45 passes for 402 yards and a touchdown. He finished the 2019 season with four 50-plus-yard games and caught five passes in six games.
It’s obvious that Gage will be seeing the field a lot more this upcoming season.
“Julio’s the elite of the elite, but I think two guys that have room to really grow are Calvin and Russ (Gage). I think both of those guys, as they get more confident and they get more time with (quarterback) Matt (Ryan), they’re just going to get better and better.”