In the history of the NFL only 5 teams have ever had three receivers top 1,000 yards in a season, the latest being in 2008 when Kurt Warner was tossing bombs to Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston as they made there magical Superbowl push. Furthermore the Falcons have already completed this rare and difficult task in 1995 when Eric Metcalf, Bert Emanuel and Terance Mathis were catching balls thrown by quarterback Jeff George. Having already done this once, do the Falcons’ have what it takes to be the first team to multiple seasons with three 1,000 yard receivers?
Assuming he stays healthy, and there is no reason to believe he won’t be, Julio Jones should be penciled in by all fans to gain 1,000 yards. Every season Jones has been in the league he was on pace to, or broke 1,000 yards. In his rookie season Jones feel short of gaining 1,000 yards by 41 yards, despite only playing 13 games. Assuming that Jones had kept pace with his YPG that season, Jones would have went for 1180 yards. Last season, Jones was lighting the field ablaze and essentially was a one-man offense. In only 5 games, Jones went for 580 yards (116.0 YPG) and made 41 catches. If Julio had played only 10 games he would have not only gone for 1160 yards, but caught 3 more passes then his season high. For giggles, if Jones had kept up his remarkable pace, (granted it would be very difficult) Jones would have went for 1856 yards on 131 catches. For comparison, that’s around 250 more yards than Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson. But I digress, I don’t think many people doubt that Jones will go over 1,000 yards. The most dangerous weapon on our team, and arguably in the NFC South will dominate opponents all season.
Projected Stats: 102 Receptions, 1,443 Yds, (14.1 YPC) 12 TDs
Roddy White is much more of a question mark than Julio Jones. Not that he can’t do it, but age only goes one direction and it’s showing. Despite that though, White’s stats were better than he played, despite the well-documented lingering injuries. Last season Roddy caught 63 passes for 711 yards. Sure, White fell almost 300 yards short of hitting the 1,000 yard milestone and averaging only 54.7 yards per game but he never really played at 100% and looked to sluggish. The question, of course, is whether this season was an outlier or the beginning of the end for White. I believe it isn’t, and that White will be able to put up the 1,000 yards next season. Roddy finished the season strong, putting up 502 yards on 43 receptions over his last 5 games. These are at least comparable to the stats Jones’ put up over the first 5 games of the season. White didn’t do this against slouch defenses either, putting up 141 yards against SF, 143 against Buffalo and 91 against the division champion Panthers. Don’t expect White to actually reproduce these stats, but White should be able to surpass the 1k milestone, if he not he will fall very short of it.
Projected Stats: 85 Receptions, 1123 Yds, (13.2 YPC) 7 TDs
Everyone gives Douglas a hard time, including myself, for his inability to complete the play in the clutch. However, I believe he is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the game today. This isn’t to say he’s a top flight receiver, but on many teams he would be the #2 receiver. Last year, Douglas was essentially the primary receiver and was the only Falcons receiver to break the thousand yard mark. With Gonzalez being gone, Douglas should see similar stats to last season, seeing an increase in targets as the Falcons’ move to more 3 wide sets with Toilolo being brought into the trenches in a more traditional role. I actually like Douglas’ chances to go for 1,000 yards this season, and he is a big reason why I am not overly worried about filling the massive hole that the G.O.A.T Tight End has left us with since his retirement. Last season was a huge jump in every way for Douglas last season, in great part to an incredible 133 targets. While the amount of targets will undoubtedly see a huge drop, Douglas is unlikely to face the same level of talent at corner as he did last season, thanks to the return of Julio Jones and a healthy Roddy White. If Douglas goes over 1,000 then it’s likely that these receivers, as well as Ryan will have their names all etched and carved within the history of the NFL.
Projected Stats: 78 Receptions, 1009 Yards (12.9 YPC) 5 Tds
Going over 1000 yards is a difficult task by itself, and having a three receivers pull this off would be an accomplishment not soon forgotten but the Falcons have all the tools needed to do it. A strong QB and three receivers varying from solid to down right elite. The Broncos could also do it and feature talent more inclined to, but with a weaker run game and defense the Falcons may be putting the game on Ryan’s shoulders more than expected; especially if we are throwing to get back into the game.