The Falcons made a big move when they were approved on Sunday trade receiver to Julio Jones Titan for a package highlighted by a selection of a second-round draft. Jones was the No. 1 receiver in Atlanta for the past decade, but now the team has a new No. 1 receiver in the depth chart.
That’s Calvin Ridley. Alabama’s 2018 first-round draft will be Matt Ryan and the Falcons ’most picked up weapon on the 21st. Kyle Pitts Rookie, the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, will be tight, while Russell Gage showed promise last year.
But ultimately, much of the pressure to help Jones produce and replace will fall on Ridley.
Is he ready to be the main recipient of the Ridley Falcons? That’s the question to ask. Jones has been a top lieutenant and a productive receiver in his three seasons in the NFL, but moving to the top spot isn’t always easy.
Here’s Ridley’s perspective on his new role and whether he can avoid the mistakes of a difficult transition.
How Calvin Ridley did it with and without Julio Jones
Actually, we have a pretty good sample size of Ridley’s production without Jones. Jones has lost eight games in the last two seasons. So in those competitions, Ridley was the main threat to the Falcons.
Overall, Ridley was good as a main receiver. He picked up more than 100 yards in the game while averaging more goals than Ryan’s other mountaineers.
As expected, Ridley’s goal quota increased when Jones was off the field, as well as his overall production. Jones Ridley’s performances Compared to the last eight games in which Jones and he and Jones played at least 50 percent of their endurance attacks, it’s clear that Ridley can progress without Jones.
|Calvin Ridley Statistics||Goals||Catches||Picking up patios||TDak|
|With Julio Jones||9.1||6.4||97.6||1.1|
|Without Julio Jones||11.1||7.3||107||0.4|
Sure, Ridley’s touch production goes down significantly without Jones, but that’s partly because the teams were able to take a closer look at Ridley in the red zone when Jones was offside. Adding two catches a week and 10 meters to his weekly statistics line helps make up for that.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Ridley last year put a goose egg against the Packers in a game that Jones left early. However, Ridley’s performance is less than the excellent output of Jaire Alexander, who proudly took his efforts against the young Falcons receiver in an Instagram story.
Maybe the teams will play more against him, but Ridley is ready to act as a No. 1 quality receiver.
Is JuJu Smith-Schuster a careful story for Ridley’s future?
Ridley’s situation is reminiscent of the Steelers moving forward from Antonio Brown and ordering JuJu Smith-Schuster as his No. 1 receiver.
After Brown asked to trade outside the Steelers, he was forced to send the former All-Pro to the Raiders to be Derek Carr’s main target. On the other hand, Smith-Schuster would take on the role of Pittsburgh’s 1st receiver. After seeing 111 catches, 1,426 yards and seven TDs after a season, many thought he was ready to be the Steelers ’main receiver.
However, Smith-Schuster did not agree with the billing. Actually, Ben Roethlisberger’s injury greatly reduced his chances of contributing in 2019, but he scored 42 catches, 552 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games for the Steelers.
Even considering the unstable quarterback situation, it was disappointing for Smith-Schuster because he wasn’t as explosive as in previous years. He was injured for part of the season, but initially hit the best corners that Brown would cover.
In 2020 Smith-Schuster was better – he had 97 catches, 831 yards and nine career-high TDs – but there are still doubts as to whether he is a true No. 1 receiver (although, once again, a bad quarterback was hurt. Status and average career resulting in a low 8.6 meters per catch). These questions are part of the reason for returning to Pittsburgh to a one-year agreement, rather than a multi-year free agency agreement.
Could Ridley see the decline of Smith-Schuster as his All-Pro counterpart is gone? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem so safe. Ridley has no experience without Jones, Smith-Schuster has no experience without Brown. In fact, Ridley has more experience overall as he becomes the No. 1 pick to enter his fourth career season. Smith-Schuster took on this challenge in his third year.
He is also a better athlete than star Ridley Steelers, and Matt Ryan is better than the 19th in the Roethlisberger Steelers team at this stage of his career. Both of these factors should give Ridley a better chance of avoiding his No. 1 goal in his first year.
Therefore, Ridley should continue on its upward trajectory. Or at least he shouldn’t give up in 2021 if he and Ryan are to stay healthy.