Stop me if you have heard this before “Vic Beasley is a bust,” “Vic Bustly,” or “Vic Beasley should be traded for a 3rd round pick.” That narrative stays the same while one fact remains, Vic Beasley, as of today, is still a member of the Atlanta Falcons and that is not changing in 2019.
According to ESPN’s Vaughn Mcclure, the Falcons are planning to keep Beasley and pay him his full fifth-year option of $12.81 million.
Beasley’s rookie year was marred by injury but followed it with a breakout sophomore campaign leading the NFL in sacks. The past two seasons Beasley has finished with 5.0 sacks.
There is no questioning the consistent production has not been there for a first-round pick, especially one selected in the top ten, but compare him to the other first-round pass rushers in his class. Bud Dupree of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who many thought the Falcons should take in 2015, only averages 5.0 sacks a year. Shane Ray of the Denver Broncos averages just 3.5 sacks.
And is there any disputing that the Falcons needed to take a pass rusher in the 2015 draft? The Falcons finished 30th in the league in sacks the year prior with a measly 22. Atlanta drafted the best player at their most glaring need. Can one fault them for that?
Now, compare him to the other pass rushers on the team. Takk Mckinley, who was drafted in 2017, averages 6.5 sacks. Long-time Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett – 3.5 sacks. Jack Crawford in his two years with the Falcons has 6.0 sacks. Although, Crawford was injured for the majority of 2017.
Most casual fans see the stat sheet and assume a player had a bad game due to what isn’t there. Atlanta’s entire defensive line has not generated enough consistent quarterback pressure to begin recording high sack totals.
Beasley may not be statistically blowing the league away, but he is affecting games by pushing the pocket and moving quarterbacks from their spots, allowing defensive backs to increase their coverage on receivers. Specifically, re-watching the last five games of last season, his impact is easily recognizable.
If he ultimately becomes nothing more than a rotational rusher, that shouldn’t be frowned upon by fans. When looking at who the team had on the defensive side of the ball in 2016, one will realize why Beasley was so productive. Players such as Dwight Freeney, Adrian Clayborn, Grady Jarrett, Ra’Shede Hageman, and Jonathan Babineaux are all players who could push the pocket. Beasley may not be “the” guy – like we all hoped. But he isn’t just a “guy” either.
In 2018, the Falcons lost quality rotation players and replaced them with players who were not of the same caliber. There’s potential for the 2019 group to be much better than it was in 2016. The Falcons have all their picks in the draft plus two compensatory picks and should have a bit of money to spend, even after re-signing Grady Jarrett – the team’s main priority this offseason.
Vic Beasley is far from a world beater. But he is a contributor for this team, and coach Quinn believes that he can get more out of him. Quinn said, “By the end of spring, (Beasley) is going to either love or hate me.”
Dan Quinn says he will have a “hands-on approach” with Vic Beasley. “By the end of spring, he’s going to either love me or hate me.” #Falcons
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) February 27, 2019
The Atlanta Falcons pass rush has been dormant for years, and that will not change unless it is built upon through the draft. On the edge, Mckinley and Beasley can get the job done, but there needs to be a rotation of pass rusher to consistently affect opposing teams.
Even by tabbing Beasley as just a “clean up” sack guy, he remains a valuable contributor to this team. Let’s say the Falcons (realistically) add a player such as Brandon Graham, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson or even re-sign Bruce Irvin. The team, as a whole, benefits from having quality talent around, and cohesively, it would create the Falcons pass rush they have been missing since the days of John Abraham.
I believe, as an Atlanta Falcons fan, that we need to evaluate the entire unit instead of always trying to find scapegoats. Quinn believes in Beasley. Let’s see what he can do with his “hands-on approach” he will be utilizing this offseason.