ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03: Curtis Lofton #50 of the Atlanta Falcons intercepts this pass intended for Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers at Georgia Dome on October 3 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
As Falcons fans, we like to complain about the lack of media appreciation. Our favorite team sometimes seems like the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL, except without the nervous habits and, you know, being dead and all. Like any fans, we're guilty of seeing conspiracies where there aren't any, but this is not a team that has been a darling of the press in like forever.
Yet I've noticed some ink dedicated to the Falcons in recent weeks, and it's not to the offense. When the team gets appreciation, it's generally for the burgeoning brilliance of Matt Ryan, the thundering tenacity of Michael Turner, the wide receiving wizardry of Roddy White or perhaps the vitamin-driven vitality of Tony Gonzalez. The D gets very little press.
Look at the lead of this preview at CBS Sports. Or this Associated Press story. Or this little ditty. It's not exactly Peter King spilling his mochachino at the very thought of Curtis Lofton tackling someone, but it's a start. Outside of appreciation of individual players, I can't remember the last time the Falcons got credit for being a talented, cohesive defensive unit. It appears to be coming at last.
We owe a lot of it to the maturation and health of players like William Moore, Brent Grimes, Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux. We also owe it to smart free agent signings like Dunta Robinson and quality rookies like Sean Weatherspoon and Corey Peters. It's good coaching from Brian Van Gorder. It's all of those things, though it's hard to say what should be given the most weight.
Hell, why don't I ask you guys? What should we credit for the Falcons' steady defensive ascension?