Let's face it, guys and gals. The Falcons aren't flying under the radar anymore.
On the heels of the announcement that Matt Ryan has won offensive player of the month for the NFC—and yes, I made that link as long as possible so you couldn't avoid it—it's clear that the Falcons have finally gotten their talons into the national consciousness. After all, it was just last month that Roddy White won the same honor, and the Falcons dot the top of power rankings nationwide. They've even made it to third on Jason LaCanfora's rankings, and you've gotta keep in mind that the NFL Network analyst and reporter wouldn't move the Saints out of the top spot if they collectively quit football and took up parasailing.
So this smorgasboard of attention puts both the team and fans into an unfamiliar position. No longer are the Falcons underdogs every week. No longer are analysts going to smugly pick teams like the Browns to upset them. No longer can we fans justifiably kvetch about how little respect the Falcons get, though I'm sure we'll continue to do it with justification TBD (to be damned). It's a brave new world out there.
I welcome it. Not for the sake of our blood pressure, really, but for the players, coaches and front office staff who have worked their asses off to get here. Reading a Peter King column and seeing praise for Curtis Lofton, or reading analysts who are starting to acknowledge the enormous impact Thomas Dimitroff has had with his wise acquisitions, I'm struck by how little credit they've gotten up until now. It would probably be really satisfying for them if they read the articles, but I'm sure they're a little busy figuring out new ways to tackle Josh Freeman at the molecular level.
I know you're probably getting tired of hearing me say this, but enjoy this season. With any luck, it'll be the first of many great ones to come. With a little more luck, we won't be the only ones talking about it.