Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

The Jacksonville Jaguars Have Their Missing Piece

Jaguars Wide Receiver

In 1996, Jimmy Smith had 1,244 receiving yards for the Jacksonville Jaguars and was the team’s top wide receiver. He had fewer than 1,000 receiving yards just once in the following 10 years. Keenan McCardell teamed up with Smith to have four 1,000-receiving-yard seasons during the same stretch. Only four other players in the history of the franchise have reached the 1,000-yard mark, and none one of them did it more than once.

Since Jimmy Smith retired from football, the Jaguars have not known what it means to have a true Number 1 wide receiver. Christian Kirk is a good player and Zay Jones had some moments last year where he stretched the field. However, there is a reason that Jones struggled to find playing time with the Raiders and Kirk was little more than a third option for most of his time in Arizona. With Calvin Ridley being cleared to play, 2023 could be the year that the Jaguars have another true No. 1 wide receiver.

Calvin Ridley Could be a True No. 1 Wide Receiver in the NFL

What is a “True” No. 1 Wideout

Technically, WR1 is the outside receiver in a formation and generally leads his team in receiving yards. These are the receivers that should stretch the field and provide big plays when needed. Over the years, however, the phrase “true no. 1” has come to mean something a little bit different. A true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL is not just the guy that lines up wide and can beat a defense deep. A true No. 1 is the player you have to roll coverage to, play your defense around, and is a threat to take it to the house on any given play from any position on the field. Every team has a WR1, but there are only about six to eight true number 1 wide receivers in the NFL at any given time – and it looks like the Jaguars have one of them.

The Case for Ridley Being the Jacksonville Jaguars Star Wide Receiver

Ridley has only played in three full NFL seasons, all with the Atlanta Falcons. He has not played meaningful football since the first few games of the 2021 season. There is, however, reason to believe that he has the skill set and the physical tools to be the true no. 1 that the Jaguars have been missing from their wide receiver room. In Atlanta, he scored a touchdown every 8.3 catches he made. In his last full season, he had almost 1,400 receiving yards, nine touchdowns, and averaged 15.3 yards per catch. He also improved every full season in Atlanta that he played.

Of course, off-the-field issues derailed Ridley’s career in Atlanta. He has said and done all of the right things since coming to Jacksonville. He has, however, only been cleared to play since March. Ridley is going to be rusty and it could take him a while to round back into shape after such a long layoff. On top of that, this Jaguar offense is somewhat established. Ridley will have to work and gain the trust of the rest of the offense before he can thrive in Jacksonville.

The biggest case that can be made for Ridley right now, however, is the preseason. He and Lawrence have a clear rapport. In the 7-on-7 drills at practice, Ridley appears to be the top target. When the team works in the red zone, Lawrence goes to Ridley first. He is easily the most skilled route runner on the team. If the preseason and training camp is any indication, Ridley could have his best year yet. Trevor Lawrence looks great, and Kirk and Jones showed they are capable receivers. The wild card, however, is whether or not Ridley can be a true no. 1 wide receiver.

Main Photo: Kevin Jairaj – USA Today Sports


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