Falcons: Arthur Smith says Matt Ryan and Calvin Ridley, among others, stood out to him

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When evaluating an organization, every head coach prospect will assess the roster and value different personnel. Some might place more value on a team with an established quarterback, one with a young foundation, or one bare to easily mold. The Falcons attracted Arthur Smith for several reasons, one being their talent already on the roster.

In his presser today, Smith mentioned Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Younghoe Koo, and Chris Lindstrom as players that stood out during his thorough film review.

Falcons fans will try to twist this into something it’s not. The one comment I’m most expecting is, “where is Julio Jones?” Everyone in the entire NFL knows what Julio is capable of, and Smith was probably referencing Ridley because of his breakout 2020 in Jones’ absence. Another comment I expect from Falcons fans is Smith made this statement to prop up Matt Ryan and increase his trade value, which also couldn’t be further from the truth.

The comment by Smith was purely based on his admiration of Ryan, Ridley, Koo, and Lindstrom. Ryan gives Smith a reason to believe he can win right now, just look at what Smith was able to do with Ryan Tannehill. Ridley, paired with Jones, gives Smith a significantly better receiver tandem than he had in Tennessee, which I’m sure he is pleasantly surprised with. A.J. Brown and Corey Davis are no slouches, but they aren’t in the same stratosphere as Jones and Ridley. Koo provides assurance at kicker. Remember, Smith had to deal with Stephen Gostkowski last season. Traditionally, he’s been one of the better kickers in the league, but he only made 18 of his 26 kicks (69.2%) in 2020. Meanwhile, Koo made 37 of his 39 field goal attempts. Lindstrom is a top-ten guard in the league entering his third season, which will be vital to what Smith is attempting to build in Atlanta.

With a new regime in place, the Falcons will likely overhaul a lot of the roster. However, these four guys look to be cornerstones that Smith will attempt to build around, as the Falcons aim to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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