It does not seem too long ago that critics were already proclaiming the Falcons’ 2015 first round selection a bust. The Falcons selected Vic Beasley, the 6 foot 3, 245 pound pass rusher out of Clemson with the 8th overall pick that offseason. Beasley played in all 16 games for the Falcons in 2015 but recorded just 20 total tackles and 4.5 sacks on the season. People were very critical of Beasley’s play, even after Beasley came out and said he had played nearly the entire season with a torn labrum. 2016 has been a different story for the Clemson product. He has gone from a slumping rookie to one of the best defensive players in all of football. Very few would have thought it was a possibility at the beginning of the season, but Vic Beasley is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Born in Adairsville, Georgia, it was Vic Beasley’s dream to play for his hometown Falcons. The local product voiced his preference of playing for his hometown team before and after being drafted and has begun to take the team he once grew up cheering for to new heights.
Beasley has dominated opponent’s offensive lines in 2016 and is giving offensive coordinators fits. After having just a single sack in the Falcons first four games, Beasley broke out in week 5 against the Broncos, where he had 8 total tackles and 3.5 sacks, and has yet to look back. The second year pass rusher now leads all of the NFL with 14.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. He even had a strip, sack and score all on the same play against the Rams. He has turned into a game changer every week and has elevated this Falcons defense from one of the worst in the league.
The numbers are terrific, but they really do not tell the whole story. Dan Quinn loves to mix things up in his defense. He loves to drop lineman and play interesting types of zone coverages. Beasley’s versatility allows for a lot of the things Dan Quinn can do on defense. Primarily Beasley has served as a pass rusher this season, but at times he will line up as a linebacker, drop back into coverage, or even spy the quarterback.
Take a look at one of my favorite plays from Vic Beasley this season.
Quinn lines Beasley up over the guard and Beasley plays a straight up spy technique on perhaps the fastest QB in the league. Using pure speed, Beasley chases Kaepernick down in the open field for the sack. That type of speed to go along with his unbelievable strength is the reason why he is beginning to dominate the league week in and week out.
Now, the DPOY award is not the defensive MVP award, but there is little doubt that Beasley has been the most valuable defensive player to his team. This is a Falcons teams that was nearly last in total defense, and more importantly, dead last in sacks with just 19.0 total sacks the entire 2015 season. Beasley has blown that up by himself. He has opened up rushing lanes not only for himself but his teammates as well. Atlanta has 32 sacks on the season with still a game left to play. The Falcons pass rush has arguably been the most improved unit of 2016, and the evolution of Vic Beasley is the primary reason for that.
Beasley’s speed, strength and versatility has led the Falcons defense for the entire season. He has already received first team All-Pro honors and will be heading to the Pro Bowl providing the Falcons do not make it to the Super Bowl. He leads the entire NFL in both sacks and forced fumbles and is doing so with no other established pass rushers around him. He is a true game changer on a defense that does not have much else to offer. There are a lot of solid players out there that could be DPOY, but Beasley deserves to have his name at the forefront of that conversation.