- Atlanta Falcons top receiver Calvin Ridley underwent minor surgery on his foot and will not report to team minicamp.
- With Julio Jones now out, the Falcons will be prioritizing Ridley as their primary downfield weapon in 2021.
- Odds have the win total for the Falcons set at 7.5 with -130 odds for the over.
ATLANTA – Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley underwent minor surgery this week on his foot, leading to his absence at the team’s first minicamp.
Ridley had been dealing with a soft-tissue issue in his foot over the course of last season and elected to have minor surgery to repair any damage.
With legendary receiver Julio Jones now a member of the Tennessee Titans, the pass-catching duties for Ridley are set to see a major uptick in 2021.
With Ridley missing mini-camp into the foreseeable future, some are worried that the Falcons will not be able to establish repertoire between longtime QB Matt Ryan and his new Julio-less group of receivers.
After all, Jones was one of the most productive and destructive weapons in the NFL since his entrance into the league in 2011. For anyone to replace his production would be a tall task.
In terms of the near future, the Falcons drafted Julio’s prodigal replacement in Kyle Pitts. While Pitts is listed as a tight end, the receiver played a very similar deep-threat pass catching role during his time in college.
Florida TE Kyle Pitts routinely makes contested catches look easy. He's got wiggle at the top of his routes and is so smooth after the catch. A small sample below of plays that demonstrate some of his special receiving ability ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/7gdPN3GsSd
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 11, 2021
While Pitts has the ceiling, Ridley already has the consistency.
In 2019, Ridley caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns and was one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL.
With him gone for the short-term, things aren’t looking too great for the Falcons' chances this season.
Currently, Super Bowl sportsbooks have the Falcons sitting at 7.5 total wins on the season, with the over slightly favored at -130.
Atlanta Falcons 2021/22 Total Wins
- Over 7.5 -130
- Under 7.5 EVEN
That would certainly not be a record to hang your hat on, but it could be much worse, especially for first year coach Arthur Smith.
The problem is that the Falcons still have an aging Matt Ryan. The former MVP isn’t getting any younger at 36 years old, and without a Brady-level miracle, will likely not be playing into his forties.
That means the Falcons have the option of either trying to win while Ryan is still under center, or tanking to possibly pick up their QB of the future in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Those looking to bet on NFL futures can also find the Falcons as +220 odds to make the playoffs, with -300 strongly in favor of Atlanta not making it to the postseason.
Atlanta Falcons To Make The Playoffs
- Yes +220
- No -300
Much of this will hinge on the health of Ridley, who is needed for the team to be productive on offense at least until Pitts and others can get situated.
Currently, the forecast looks good for Ridley to return by the start of the season, but Coach Smith is being rather vague about the situation.
"The entire objective here is to get these guys to make sure they are in the best shape heading into training camp," said Smith when asked about the injuries during camp. "And ready to roll ultimately, obviously, for the regular season [for] somebody in a guy like Calvin's spot."
The health of Ridley would be something to closely monitor for anyone looking to make a preseason wager on the Dirty Birds.