Falcons

Can Vic Beasley exceed expectations in a new system?

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The story has already been written, so it doesn’t need to be re-told. Vic Beasley has underperformed since his breakout year in 2016, recording a measly five sacks in each of the last two seasons. But that didn’t stop the Falcons from picking up his fifth-year option, which pays him over $12.8 million this year. Now the hope is – with Dan Quinn taking over the defense – Beasley can become the player we all thought he would be following his All-Pro campaign.

Athletically, few in the entire league can compare. He was a combine standout that solidified his place in the top ten picks with a first-class workout. The problem since, however, has been how he translates his superior athleticism to the field. Beasley has become a one-trick pony, relying strictly on his speed of the edge. That predictability makes it challenging for him to replicate success.

The former #8 overall pick infamously did not attend OTAs this offseason, which was disappointing to everyone around the organization, but he was working on secondary pass-rushing moves over the summer. In limited snaps last Thursday versus the Miami Dolphins, Beasley got consistent pressure on the QB using his speed moves and a counter inside.

It’s preseason, so performances – good or bad – have to be taken with a grain of salt. But for Beasley, who has been seemingly resistant to adding counter moves into his game, it is enough to pique the interest of the Falcons faithful.

Atlanta’s defense is displaying a new 5-2 base alignment, which sees Beasley line up as a stand-up EDGE Rusher, allowing him to make the most of his patented athleticism. It remains to be seen if he can fully recognize his ability, but it is encouraging to see Dan Quinn utilize him differently than he has been in the past.

Using 2016 as an outlier, a realistic projection for Beasley is 6-7 sacks – that might even be generous. However, I’m still a believer, so I’m expecting him to record around 8-10 of them. The guy has all the talent in the world. He’s also playing with perhaps the best defensive line group of his entire career. Combine that with Dan Quinn scheming the defense for the first time since becoming the Falcons head man, and Beasley is primed for a resurgent year.

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