The Atlanta Falcons had another disappointing season in 2018 after finishing with a 7-9 record. However, Calvin Ridley was a bright spot for Atlanta in a year when the Falcons missed the playoffs.
The Falcons picked Ridley 26th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Alabama. Along with Ridley, the Falcons also have another standout receiver out of Alabama in a guy named Julio Jones.
Last time I checked, Jones was a decent receiver in the NFL. He had help, though: In Ridley’s rookie campaign in 2018, the speedy wideout had 64 receptions, 821 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
With the addition of Ridley, the Falcons returned to being one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2018. Matt Ryan returned to his dominant form and Ridley gives him a dangerous weapon.
Coming into 2019, Ridley is poised to take another step forward as a receiver. Ridley had an impressive 2018 season, but his numbers should increase across the board. Here are three numbers to target for Ridley with the Falcons in 2019.
3. 1,100 Receiving Yards
Coming into the NFL, the Falcons knew they were getting a big playmaker for their passing offense. In Ridley’s last season at Alabama, he finished with 15.3 yards per reception.
The rookie wideout didn’t have 15.3 yards per reception, but he did have multiple plays in which he was able to stretch the defense with his speed. With Jones and Mohamed Sanu by his side, Ridley will have lots of opportunities to rack up tons of yards through the air.
One of Ridley’s strengths is his ability to use his elusiveness to get in and out of his breaks on routes. Last season, Ridley averaged 3.2 yards of separation per route run. That puts him in the top 20 among all wide receivers in the NFL.
In 2018, Ridley tallied 821 yards in the Falcons’ passing attack, but that number should undergo a positive increase in 2019.
2. 80 Receptions
Inarguably, the Falcons boast one of the best-receiving trios in the NFL with Ridley, Jones, and Sanu. Of course, Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL and takes the pressure off both Ridley and Sanu.
Even though he eases the pressure off the other guys, Jones commands a ton of targets in the Atlanta offense. That leaves fewer targets for Ridley and Sanu.
Nevertheless, Ridley—more than Sanu—will still garner a decent number of targets. In 2018, Ridley was targeted 92 times and was able to haul in 64 of them. Ridley could easily see over 100 targets in his second season in the NFL.
If Ridley is given 100 targets, the dynamic wideout should easily reach the 80-reception mark.
1. 10 Touchdowns
Atlanta’s offense is predicated on Matt Ryan chucking the ball to all of his weapons in the offense. That gives everyone in the offense a decent amount of opportunities to find the end zone.
In 2018, Atlanta was ranked third in the NFL in receiving touchdowns. Of those 36 touchdowns, Ridley had 10 of them in his rookie season.
Ridley led the Falcons in receiving touchdowns—Jones had eight of them. Both of them should see a large share of the offense’s touchdowns in 2019 as well. As long as Ridley remains healthy, the young receiver should have a chance of grabbing 10 touchdowns once again this season.