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Can Falcons unlock Vic Beasley's pass-rushing potential?


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https://www.espn.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/34392

 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Vic Beasley Jr. isn’t oblivious to the criticism.

Skeptics wonder why the Atlanta Falcons' defensive end hasn’t been nearly near as productive the past two years (10 sacks combined in 2017-18) as he was during his 15.5-sack 2016 season. His decline has turned the 2015 first-round pick into a punchline on talk radio and the subject of angry rants from fed-up fans.

Beasley knows the only way to silence the doubters is to perform at a high level every week, which is what he intends to do.

"I know I'm a good player," Beasley said. "There's a lot of things that I can work on, but I know that I'm a good player. For me to remain in this league and to be the great player that I want to be, I have to be consistent.

“I just have to do better. Humans make mistakes in life. You have to make it up in your mind that you're going to do better. A lot of times when you strive to be great, sometimes things don't go your way. But you continue to remain optimistic in those situations."

Beasley set the bar high in his second NFL season, when he topped his buddy Von Miller (13.5 sacks) of the Denver Broncos for the NFL sack title. Everything appeared to align right for Beasley in ‘16 as he used his speed off the edge to create havoc. Not to mention he drew a couple favorable matchups, such as squaring off against current teammate and former Bronco Ty Sambrailo on an afternoon Beasley recorded 3.5 sacks along with two forced fumbles.

Once the calendar flipped to 2017, the buzz around Beasley faded. He didn’t have a sack in the Falcons' three postseason games tied to their Super Bowl run. Then during the ‘17 regular season, Beasley finished with just five sacks in 14 games -- and three of those sacks came in the first six games. Beasley missed time due to an early-season hamstring injury but never used the injury as an excuse for his drop-off -- just like he never pointed to the torn labrum in his shoulder during his rookie campaign. Plus, Beasley took on more coverage responsibilities while playing strongside linebacker in ‘17.

Then last season, Beasley, back into more of a pass-rusher role, had just five sacks as the Falcons finished in the bottom 10 of the league with 37 sacks. According to ESPN's pass rush win rate powered by NFL Next Gen, Beasley beat his blocks in 2.5 seconds on 26.9% of pass rushes, which ranked 23rd in the NFL among players with at least 300 pass rushes. He didn’t force any fumbles, something he showed a knack for when he tied Bruce Irvin with a league-high six forced fumbles in 2016.

"Again, it’s just consistency," Beasley said of last year’s woes. "That's what keeps you around this league: consistency. You had one great year. You have to get back to that. Any player in this league, if they're not consistent, how do you gain trust with that individual?"

The Falcons expressed some amount of trust in Beasley by picking up his fifth-year option worth $12.81 million this season. They have not, however, made a long-term commitment after this season.

Irvin, who played with the Falcons last season, thinks Beasley can play.

"I think Vic can ball," Irvin said. "I just think Vic needs an older guy to push him. And I think he really needs DQ [Falcons coach Dan Quinn]. DQ is really the perfect coach for Vic."’

So far through training camp, Quinn seems intent on getting the best out of Beasley’s freakish athleticism, whether that means rushing off the edge, setting the edge against the run, or dropping into coverage. Quinn, doubling as the defensive coordinator, vowed to spend more time trying to bring out the best in Beasley. Those one-on-one teaching moments have come during camp since Beasley opted to train on his own during the offseason program.

"I thought in the run game, those fundamentals, I thought that's been an improvement," Quinn said of Beasley’s play in camp. "We've worked hard, for him, in the pass rush. I won't get into all the specifics but some things: counters, what to set off with. So we've spent a good bit of time on that. ... He's off to a good start.’’

Now, it’s about the finish. The Falcons need him to be a strong edge rusher along with Takk McKinley on the other side, with tackle Grady Jarrett being one of the best interior rushers in the game and others such as Adrian Clayborn, Allen Bailey, and John Cominsky bringing some pass-rush ability. Beasley wouldn’t reveal exactly what elements of his pass rush he’s working on, but he continues to study the Broncos’ Miller because of their similar builds. Beasley still relies -- maybe too heavily -- on his speed rush yet has shown flashes of counters such as dipping inside or working more diligently with his hands.

Asked if he needed to play with a little more nastiness, the soft-spoken Beasley responded, "I feel like everybody has an angry side to them. If somebody was to attack your mom, what are you going to do? Are you going to turn the other cheek? You never know what you're going to do until you're put in that situation.

"As far as being an aggressive, angry player, I guess that's not necessarily my mold, my build, my personality. But if someone was to push me, I can't just sit up there and say I'm going to turn the other cheek.’’

Beasley has to worry more about turning the page on those down seasons and becoming the player he expects to be. Those expectations remain rather high: nothing short of double-digit sacks through a full season.

"For me, it is about double-digit sacks because I'm not just a guy, you know what I'm saying? I'm a good player," Beasley said. "For me and the person that I am, consistently for me, that's what I need to do."

 

 

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So Irvin confirms what everybody else already knows- we should have never let Dwight Freeney leave before Vic had a chance to learn the spin counter to his outside rush.

And the D-Line expert head coach waiting until the contract year to lay hands on a player we have no money to re-sign anyway?

Boggles the mind....

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I say no

Pass rushing seems to be a blight on this team that we can't get around. The main cause is not our DE's but our lack of size at DT.

Until the front office figures this out and starts putting some larger guys at DT our DE's will not flourish rushing the passer.

Vic himself is soft and does not seem to have the motivation to change and improve so that makes it even tougher when our DT's are not collapsing the pocket.

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I personally don't think he has the mental make-up to be a good NFL player, but he has the physical skills.  Call it what you want, but most successes in life start with the correct mentality.  Listen to what Mike Golic has to say about Reggie White, calm and one of the most humble guys ever in the NFL, but when he was mad or challenged, White would smile and absolutely go crazy on people.  Vic doesn't do that.  He thinks he is playing on a level playing field where all he has to be is a "good player".  Sorry, that is the mentality that makes a lot of really mediocre "good players".

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Vic is a fast undersized player who lacks elite level awareness and competitiveness.  He will always do well against a slow footed backup tackle but will not ever be a great player against your average starting NFL tackle.  Good guy, and I don't mind keeping him on the team as a rotational player.  It's just not really fair to think he will ever be Von Miller.

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Vic excels at running stunts, and using his quickness against off-balance lineman.  This is DQ's strength, scheming him in to situations that cater to his abilities.  So, I think we will see more success out of Vic not necessarily due to him developing superior counter moves, but because DQ will find ways to use his speed to attack holes in the opposing lines weaknesses. 

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Here's the issue...fitting a round peg in a square hole.  When you want an aggressive, dominant, fighting player you go find someone who has those traits naturally.  You don't go get a laid back, easy going guy, who isn't a fighter and try to make him one.  Sure anyone's technique can be improved, but when the going gets tough who shows up--the fighter or the timid guy?  People (players) revert back to what comes natural to them. 

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2 hours ago, FalconAge said:

So Irvin confirms what everybody else already knows- we should have never let Dwight Freeney leave before Vic had a chance to learn the spin counter to his outside rush.

And the D-Line expert head coach waiting until the contract year to lay hands on a player we have no money to re-sign anyway?

Boggles the mind....

Question: Do you think the only way Vic could have learned from Freeney was if he was on the team? Freeney is still alive. 

Also, once Freeney retired, then what? Yall keep saying we should have kept Freeney like he was going to hold Vic's hand his entire career. If Vic needs an adult baby sitter to be productive, somebody else can have him. 

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3 hours ago, ButSkiuup said:

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The whole team was tapped out.  When you have a college coach trying to run an NFL offense, its just a recipe for disaster.  Falcons learned from their mistakes and yes, even the experienced coaches and front office can make mistakes.  At least they know now NEVER to do that again.  

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4 hours ago, Godzilla1985 said:

I believe Vic is going to have a great year. Love the guy.  Nicest most humble Falcon I’ve ever met. Pulling for him big time.

I'm sure he's a gem personally. That's great. But he's paid to be a ruthless QB hunter. And he's NOT living up to his draft position OR his contract. And that's a fact.

It'd be one thing if he just wasn't that talented. it's not due to lack of talent. It's due to lack of consistent EFFORT and COMMITMENT. This is something he certainly has the power to change, IF HE CARES TO DO SO. 

Talk, talk, talk. It's all talk till the QB is on the ground and the ball comes out. He's basically been a bust. The ONLY time he stepped up was his sophomore year when people initially called him a bust. I think that got under his skin a little. Maybe someone needs to insult his mother.

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2 hours ago, vel said:

Question: Do you think the only way Vic could have learned from Freeney was if he was on the team? Freeney is still alive. 

Also, once Freeney retired, then what? Yall keep saying we should have kept Freeney like he was going to hold Vic's hand his entire career. If Vic needs an adult baby sitter to be productive, somebody else can have him. 

We still had to replace Freeney's production anyway, so why not keep him? And I'm sorry but if a player is playing out of their mind you keep the new element that was fueling it.

For Vic is was Freeney

For Ryan it was Shanny's system. 

In both cases we declined to keep around that spark.

Even though we couldn't have kept Shanahan both Mike Mcdaniels and Mike Lafleur were passed over for some college guy who happened to be a friend of Quinn's. These guys (Mcdaniels especially) had spent plenty of time with Kyle Shanahan and knew the system in and out. In Mcdaniels' case he was who Kyle trusted to literally write the playbook.

Quinn has been dining out on three elements that served him very well for a few years.

1. He hired Kyle Shanahan

2. He had a **** of a 2016 draft

3. His players love playing for him.

He has an extra ace in that he is a **** of a defensive coordinator, but several mistakes have pushed us further away from reaching our potential and we are running out of time with Julio being an elite athlete.

I honestly don't think asking a bunch of NFL lifers with no experience with the Shanahan/Kubiak playbook to come in and call plays out of it is going to work out that great either, the saving grace is Matt knows these guys pretty well and feels comfortable with them. It would make more since to just fully adopt the 4 Verts varient Koetter is used to anyway if you are going that route.

I'm excited for this season, but don't see that Quinn/ the F.O. have learned any major lessons in general. I believe in them, but I don't see where we have changed course in philosophy.

Edited by FalconAge
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27 minutes ago, FalconAge said:

We still had to replace Freeney's production anyway, so why not keep him? And I'm sorry but if a player is playing out of their mind you keep the new element that was fueling it.

For Vic is was Freeney

For Ryan it was Shanny's system. 

In both cases we declined to keep around that spark.

Even though we couldn't have kept Shanahan both Mike Mcdaniels and Mike Lafleur were passed over for some college guy who happened to be a friend of Quinn's. These guys (Mcdaniels especially) had spent plenty of time with Kyle Shanahan and knew the system in and out. In Mcdaniels' case he was who Kyle trusted to literally write the playbook.

Quinn has been dining out on three elements that served him very well for a few years.

1. He hired Kyle Shanahan

2. He had a **** of a 2016 draft

3. His players love playing for him.

He has an extra ace in that he is a **** of a defensive coordinator, but several mistakes have pushed us further away from reaching our potential and we are running out of time with Julio being an elite athlete.

I honestly don't think asking a bunch of NFL lifers with no experience with the Shanahan/Kubiak playbook to come in and call plays out of it is going to work out that great either, the saving grace is Matt knows these guys pretty well and feels comfortable with them. It would make more since to just fully adopt the 4 Verts varient Koetter is used to anyway if you are going that route.

I'm excited for this season, but don't see that Quinn/ the F.O. have learned any major lessons in general. I believe in them, but I don't see where we have changed course in philosophy.

And back to my point, once Freeney retires then what? At least Matt performed without Kyle. Yes, Kyle's scheme fit Matt perfectly, but there is only one Kyle. Matt LaFleur isn't, and I live in Nashville and saw first hand he's not. Same with McDaniels. You can't say that with Vic. He happened to have a great season when Freeney was here, but Freeney not being on the team isn't why Vic isn't throwing any moves and can barely beat TEs now. Again, if that's the case, why keep a player who needs another player to be good? Especially a player who would be 39 if he was still on the roster holding Vic's hand? Some point, he has to stand on his own two feet. 

Kyle's scheme is great and it was already adapted once with Sark. Having Koetter, Mularkey, and Knapp digging in all offseason, it's no longer Kyle's scheme anyway, but a blend of literally every scheme Matt has played in since he got in the league. Koetter has shown he can adapt multiple times. He did it the first time he got here, adapting to Mularkey's scheme and lighting the league up. He did it in Tampa. Track record tells me he can do it again with a QB like Matt. 

Assuming they haven't learned based on what? Didn't hire another inexperienced OC. Didn't skimp on depth. Didn't hire another DC that isn't capable of running the defense correctly. I don't get how you can make the comment "several mistakes have pushed us further away from reaching our potential" when we were the only team to return to the playoffs in 2017 and were a play away from back to back NFCCG trips and 2018 was massively derailed by injuries, in a season where we lost four games by one score. The ball bounces our way in those four and they go 11-5. HeIl take half and that's 9-7. We are back, fully healthy, and look just as capable of a return to the postseason. We aren't further away from any potential my friend. 

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