Believe it or not, I was pleasantly surprised by the way members of the media treated the Falcons coming off their NFC Conference Championship loss. Sure, choker was tossed around, but generally they were received as a legitimate NFL contender for the first time in recent memory, and many predicted they'd be back again in 2013. I decided to retire the "no respect" meme for the entire team for the foreseeable future, and move to a quiet fishing town in Florida where I could haul in tarpons and drink whiskey from a Poland Springs bottle.
Every time you think you're out, though, someone pulls you back in. Today's surprises come to us from NFL.com, and both concern Julio Jones.
The first is this piece on the NFL.com All-Under-25 team. That there are no Falcons on this list is not, in and of itself, a huge surprise. This team flies under the radar, after all, and a lot of their bigger names are over the age of 25. There's one notable exception here, and that's at receiver, where AJ Green and Dez Bryant make the team ahead of Julio Jones.
If we were talking purely about talent, the gap between Dez Bryant and Julio Jones would be quite small, if it exists at all. Given that they're exactly the same age and Dez has had a well-publicized history of off-the-field problems—ones that he may be turning the corner on, but very real ones—I find it difficult to argue that Jones doesn't deserve the spot opposite Green. But then, there's more than one person who seems to believe Jones might be a touch overrated, despite the inherent absurdity of that. I was surprised he couldn't crack the list.
The less said about Dave Dameshek's contention that the Falcons will not make the playoffs and that Julio Jones and Roddy White would be mediocre outside of Atlanta, the better. Let's just go with this: Dave Dameshek is a gleeful contrarian who knows exactly how to get disbelieving reactions and plenty of clicks, as my linking of his article attests. He also picked the Baltimore Ravens to miss the playoffs and the Miami Dolphins to make it, so hey. Doesn't really make his position any less indefensible, but at least there's a logic behind it.
EDIT: I appear to have misread the story. I think he's suggesting the team is mediocre outside of White and Jones. That's still not something I agree with, but I want to apologize for misstating his point.
Weigh in, if you would.