Falcons’ 2018 unit-by-unit analysis: The wide receivers

The Falcons were projected to compete for the Super Bowl title last season, but injuries robbed the team of key players on defense.

The Falcons stumbled out of the gate, regrouped and climbed to 4-4 at the halfway point. But a lackluster performance in Cleveland led to a five-game losing streak.

The team closed with three consecutive wins, but that wasn’t enough to save the jobs of coordinators Steve Sarkisian, Marquand Manuel and Keith Armstrong. 

Here's the fourth installment of our unit-by-unit review of the 2018 team. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the tight ends. Today, the wide receivers:

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

WIDE RECEIVERS 

Who: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy, Marvin Hall and Russell Gage. 

Contract/free agent situation:  The team has said it would re-negotiate Jones’ deal after making an “adjustment” last season. Hall and Hardy appear headed for free agency. 

What they did in season: The trio of Jones, Sanu and Ridley is perhaps the most feared in the NFL. 

They can absolutely shred defenses, but without the benefit of a strong rushing attack to set up some of the big plays that come off of play-action fakes, their ability to create havoc was greatly diminished. 

Jones had another stellar season as he led the league in receiving yards with 1,677, the second-highest total of his career.

Jones had 113 catches on 170 targets for a 66.5 percent catch ratio, the third-highest of his career. He also scored eight touchdowns. 

The speedy receiver had 10 games with at least 100 yards receiving, breaking his previous team-record of nine games, which was set in 2015.

Ridley, who was the 26th player selected in the 2018 draft, turned in a strong first season as he was named to the Professional Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team.

Ridley had 92 targets, 64 catches, 821 receiving yards, 12.8 yards per catch and a rookie team-record 10 touchdowns. His touchdown mark eclipsed the nine touchdowns caught by former tight end Junior Miller in 1980.

Sanu caught 66 of 94 targets (70.2 percent) for 838 yards and four touchdowns. 

Hardy (two touchdowns) and Hall (one touchdown) were role players, while Gage thrived on special teams.  Grade: B

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

Monday:  Quarterbacks

Tuesday: Running backs

Wednesday: Offensive line

Thursday: Wide receivers

Friday: Tight ends

Next Week: Defense/Special teams

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