Probably at this point the most overrated player on the entire team...
Am I saying he's bad? Nope, because he is not. Am I saying he's not a significant contributor to this team's success? Nope, because he is.
Lofton is a defensive leader and brings a physical toughness and swagger to the defense that can be infectious to others. He is a big reason why the Falcons have one of the better run defenses in the league this year, and certainly last year. He is very good defending the run between the hashmarks, attacking upfield and making stops at the point of attack. Teams aren't very successful running inside and between the tackles vs. the Falcons, and along with Babs, the safeties, Lofton is a huge part of that equation.
But the reason why he is overrated is that outside this area, Lofton isn't very good. And while that is not to say that area should be ignored, in our defensive scheme, that aspect of his game and our defense is only part of the equation, and certainly not the biggest part.
A bigger part is pass defense. And as an every down player that plays in the nickel packages, Lofton is an every down player. And unknown some may be the fact that 60% of the plays against the Falcons this year have been pass plays. And according to Football Outsiders, 25% of the runs vs. the Falcons this year go outside. So by doing simple math, one can say that Lofton only excels on 37.5% of the snaps he sees, and is JUST A GUY on the other 62.5% of plays. Or at least grades far from being a "Top 10 MLB/LB" that so many claim him to be.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm thinking with Lofton it might be the same issue with Jamaal Anderson. He is not a player that can excel as a rangy every down MLB in a 4-3 scheme. He might be a player that would be much, much better playing in a 3-4 scheme.
Can the Falcons afford going forward and by forward I mean 2011 and beyond not the rest of the 2010 season (we have no choice really as far as that goes) to keep Lofton as an every down player if they want to be one of the top defenses in the league. Very few 4-3 teams in this day and age have a two-down MLB. The Titans are the only one that I can think of, but if he continues to make the mental mistakes he made vs. Philly and struggle to match up in space, it's hard for me to see OLB being one of the teams biggest needs next off-season.
Or am I just a hater?