Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been a hot topic across several media outlets this offseason since he’ll be returning this season after an abdominal injury which cut his 2019 season three games short.
Ridley will be entering his third season with the Falcons and according to NFL Network’s Nate Burleson and Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, this is Ridley’s year to be more than just No. 2 behind Julio Jones.
Dirk Koetter Expects a Jump in His Game
The former Alabama wideout has done nothing but improve over the first two seasons as a Falcons and Koetter believes Ridley will just keep getting better and better.
“I think he’s always been able to beat his man just by pure speed and athleticism, and I think as he gets a little more consistent in his route running and understanding what is landmarks are, his depths of his routes are, I think you’re going to see a jump in his game,” Koetter said on Tuesday. “Now, you say that, but we’re also talking about a guy who, in his first two years in the league, has put up some pretty substantial numbers. But I think his talent is even higher than that.”
Ridley, a first-round (26 overall) by the Falcons in 2018 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.
In two seasons with the Falcons, he’s caught 127 passes for 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Also, follow the Heavy on Falcons Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
NFL Network Explains Why Ridley Will Ball Out
Burleson is a former NFL receiver for the Vikings who played alongside notables such as Randy Moss and Calvin Johnston. Burleson gave his hot take Thursday morning on why Ridley will have the biggest breakout year in the league.
“It’s tough to say that he’s going to have a breakout year because he already has 17 touchdowns in a couple of seasons. I mean I wish I had 17 going into year three, Burleson said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. But I would say yes though for the simple fact that there is no more Devonta Freeman. There is no more Austin Hooper. So, there’s going to be balls that are available. Now, targets can go more towards Calvin Ridley. And let’s just keep it real, man, he’s still playing with Julio Jones who is considered the best receiver. He’s right up there with Michael Thomas and individuals like AJ Green if he can get back healthy and reclaim his spot.
“But Calvin Ridley, being in a position that I was for so long playing next to Randy Moss, playing next to Calvin Johnston, there’s a certain luxury you have when your starting receive is taking away all of the attention. If he can put up 1600 yards, almost 1700 yards and 17 touchdowns in the first two seasons, I guarantee he’ll ball out this year. ”
Ridley was set to have his first 1,000-yard season in the NFL last year before his injury against the Panthers.
Ridley Could Follow in Chris Godwin’s Steps
Tampa Bay wideout Chris Godwin had breakout year three in 2019 despite being No. 2 to his teammate Mike Evans.
Godwin was close to breaking 1,000 yards in his second season catching 59 passes for 842 yards and seven touchdowns but didn’t hit the thousand mark until his third year. The 24-year-old balled out recording 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns.
Both Evans and Godwin ended the season with Pro Bowl invites and Ridley is on his way to do the same with Jones if he stays consistent and Matt Ryan lets him get some pass action.