In what was one of the few bright spots of Sunday’s loss, this wide receiver group proved they were upper echelon. Chase already gave us some insight into a potential Calvin Ridley breakout, and Ridley looked every part of a superstar, but Russell Gage announced himself to the world as well, posting the first 100-yard game of his career. Do I even need to talk about Julio Jones? He was once again hauling in passes only he could catch, proving he’s still the best in the game at 31-years-old.
As vanilla as the offense was at times, Matt Ryan was masterful, distributing the ball and getting everyone involved. Let’s start with my goat, Julio Jones. Our friends over at The Falcoholic provided us with some insight into yet another record-setting day for Jones.
Julio hit the first two, and is now the 2nd-fastest to 800 receptions and 24th all-time in receiving yardage https://t.co/kYwk0hWpaE
— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) September 13, 2020
Unfortunately, Julio wasn’t involved in the Red Zone more often, but he finished with nine catches for 157 yards and a nutty 17.4 Y/R, including multiple eye-popping snags, but this is my favorite. No other WR in the NFL is hauling this in.
As crazy as this may sound, the future Hall of Famer was overshadowed by a fellow Alabama alumnus. Calvin Ridley isn’t “going to be a stud,” he is a stud — hauling in nine passes for 130 yards and two scores. One touchdown was in garbage time, but Ridley was making plays every step of the way, proving to be a favorite target of Matt Ryan’s in critical situations.
It’s refreshing to see Ridley so involved. He was in his bag making defensive backs dance after the catch, and for a guy who was drafted for his route running ability — he’s going to be awfully exciting this season. Other teams are taking note of what Ridley did to the Seahawks, and this could relieve even more pressure off of Julio Jones. Jones is always going to command a double, but if Ridley is hurting teams like this — watch out. According to PFF, he was the best Falcon on the field Sunday.
WR Calvin Ridley came in as the highest graded Falcon in yesterday’s season opener!
-89.5 overall grade
-12 targets, 9 receptions, 130 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 drops
-114.6 passer rating when targeted pic.twitter.com/kyekeuy1zT
— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) September 14, 2020
Speaking of a breakout, how about Russell Gage? Chase was on this one again, noting how he could be effective in the slot for the Falcons. I expected Gage to play well, but nine catches for 114 yards blew me away. A guy who was once thought of as purely a special teams player when he was drafted is proving to be a severe threat in the slot. Gage doesn’t have to provide the team this production every week, but I’ll take that any Sunday of the year. Even after being speared by Jamal Adams, he popped back up and produced the rest of the way, earning some extra respect for his toughness.
Amazingly enough, all three guys hauled in nine passes on twelve targets. It will be crucial for Atlanta to spread the ball out to have success, and it’s clear Matt Ryan has good chemistry with these guys even without a preseason.