The last three years have been full of up and downs for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley. A first-round pick in the 2018 draft, he supplemented Julio Jones as the No. 1 receiver for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. He retired in the midst of the 2021 season and was suspended indefinitely for betting on games not long after he stepped away from football.
Ridley placed bets on NFL games over five days in November 2021 and went on to miss the entire 2022 campaign due to the punishment. Even though he was suspended, the Jags traded for him last November. Having been reinstated in March, the former 1,000-yard receiver is set to play his first season donning the Black and Teal.
Although Ridley is coming off suspension and not hasn't played an entire season since he broke out in 2020, he's in an ideal spot to redeem himself this year as one of the NFL's elite receivers. In fact, here are three reasons why Ridley will be a contender and finalist for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2023.
3. Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley has hold himself accountable for his mistake
The NFL has had a recent rash of player suspensions for severe violations of the gambling policy. Ridley has taken a proactive voice in educating young players on gambling and why to avoid it at all costs.
Ridley has made it clear he regrets his actions and wishes there was a more prominent example at the time "Yeah, it bugs me a little because my NFL buddies didn't look at me and say, 'Aw man, hell, that's serious,'" Ridley told the Florida Times-Union. "I wish they would've looked at me and said, 'Wow, they did him like that? I hope it doesn't happen to me.' Because that's what I would've done."
With the NFL looking to save face with player gambling, getting a lot of attention, and Ridley stepping up to be an anti-gambling advocate after serving a one-year suspension, they could be appreciative when it comes to voting. That's the first reason to like Ridley for the CBPotY Award in 2023.
The Jags brought in Chad Hall to coach their wider receivers when Chris Jackson left to fill the same position at Texas. Hall played receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. At the time, Doug Peterson was the offensive quality control coach, and later joined him again in Kansas City. Hall was noted to be an excellent route runner in his playing days with the Eagles, Chiefs, and 49ers.
2. Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley has an excellent position coach in Chad Hall
Hall became an assistant coach in Buffalo, where he coached Zay Jones in 2019. he received high praise from Bills receiver Stephon Diggs and Gabe Davis in his first year as their position coach in 2020. Diggs even tweeted Hall was "One of the best coaches I've ever had. "
Hall is intelligent, determined and has an intense passion for the game. He will work well with the trio of pass catchers in Jacksonville and elevate their route running and pass catching. Hall is the second reason Calvin Ridley will have a breakout year and be in the running for the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
1. Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley will be catching passes from Trevor Lawrence
Lastly, it's the Prince of Duval, Trevor Lawrence, that will put Ridley over the top this year. It's been well-circulated that Lawrence is poised for an outstanding year, and it is anticipated he will reach the elite level of NFL quarterbacks. There have even been early rumblings that he will be contending for the MVP Award this year.
Ridley will be Lawrence's primary target and first check down in an arsenal of weapons. The firepower on Jaguar's offense will spread the field open, allowing Ridley to but free frequently. Add in his explosive playmaking threats and breakaway ability after the catch and 150 targets, and he will be one of the top WRs in the NFL.
That is the third and final reason to like Ridley for the Comeback Player of the Year Awar. The NFLPA will push for him, it will look good for the NFL's gambling issues, a new coaching system he is familiar with will allow him to thrive and he has the Savior of Jacksonville throwing him the ball. The table is set; it's all on Ridley now to blow us away; you can bet he will.