After finishing 4-12, there were very few moments during the 2020 season for Falcons fans that didn’t end up in another agonizing loss. However, a few guys did step up substantially through all the heartbreak this season; some of these players were expected — some came out of nowhere. I’ll be omitting the usual suspects like Grady Jarrett, Julio Jones, and company to focus on ones fans maybe didn’t expect.
Gage started off 2020 with a bang against Seattle, going for 114 yards on nine catches. He had his ups and downs along with some drop issues, but he gave the team about all they could ask for out of a third wide receiver. Gage finished 2020 with 786 yards on 72 catches with four scores, and most importantly — he solidified Atlanta’s wide receiver group.
First-round picks are always expected to perform, but Chris Lindstrom has gone above and beyond after a disappointing 2019 marred by injuries.
7th, 77.2 but he’s played the 2nd most snaps at RG in the league with 1,139. The six guys ahead of him haven’t played more than 883. Of those that have played a minimum of 500 snaps he’s 5th at RG.
— Evan Birchfield (@EvanBirchfield) January 4, 2021
This pick was questioned by many (myself included) at the time, but AJ Terrell had a fantastic rookie season. He saw a serious dip in play over the last three weeks, featuring two matchups with Tampa Bay and one with Kansas City, but he held his own for a first-year player with no offseason. He was PFF’s highest-graded rookie corner until those last few games, so the sky is the limit for the Clemson product.
Deion Jones has been a staple in Atlanta’s linebacking core for five years now. The rest of the group has seen multiple guys come and go. I predicted around this time last year that Foyesade Oluokun would step up in De’Vondre Campbell‘s absence, but I never foresaw Mykal Walker being one of the best rookies in the NFL. I wrote about how Atlanta’s linebacking trio was quietly playing like one of the best in the NFL, and I think a move to a 3-4 is in order to complement the strength of the defense. It feels nice to have three young and talented building blocks at one position on a defense that badly needs some help.
Chase predicted Calvin Ridley’s breakout before the season began, but I don’t think he even saw this coming. Ridley is better than some team’s WR1s, posting 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine scores. He went for over 100 yards in half of his games in 2020, and while Julio Jones is still the man on this team — Calvin showed he’s no 2nd option. He’s turning into a legitimate superstar.