Calvin Ridley named Falcons’ most improved player in 2020

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Matt Urben
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

For the first time in seven years, someone other than Julio Jones led the Atlanta Falcons in receiving yards. Calvin Ridley, a first-round pick in 2018, took his game to another level in 2020 while Jones battled a hamstring injury.

Ridley posted a career-high 90 catches for 1,374 receiving yards, and caught nine touchdown passes. While he may have gotten snubbed by the Pro Bowl, Ridley did get named to the A.P.’s All-Pro second team. The third-year receiver’s performance was highlighted in a piece by Pro Football Focus examining each team’s most improved player.

Here’s what PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote about Ridley’s rise to elite status.

Part of that rise was due to increased opportunity, as Julio Jones started just nine of 16 games this year, but Ridley took full advantage. His 1,374 receiving yards were over 500 more than he recorded in either of his first two seasons, and he picked up those yards in big chunks. He racked up 40 receptions of 15 or more yards — more than any other receiver in the NFL. With a healthy Julio, the Falcons have two legitimate No. 1 options in the passing game.

Ridley’s average of 15.3 yards per catch was the third-highest in the NFL among receivers with at least 1,000 yards last season. Atlanta’s big-play wideout routinely got behind defenses and made cornerbacks look foolish with his route-running ability.

Expect Ridley’s big numbers to continue in Arthur Smith’s offense this season as Titans WR A.J. Brown was one of two 1,000-yard receivers to average more yards per reception (15.4) in 2020.

Related

12 free-agent DT options for the Falcons in 2021

Four options for the Falcons with the No. 4 overall pick

How will the Atlanta Falcons fare in 2021?

List

Four options for the Falcons with the No. 4 overall pick