You would have been hard pressed to find a bigger Vic Beasley fan on #DraftTwitter than me when he came out last spring. I was impressed with his college tape, and the draft evaluation I did on him was probably one of the most glowing I have ever done.
Yes, he was a little undersized at around 235 pounds, but at 6'3, I thought he could easily put on 15 pounds and be a viable right defensive end in a 4-3 or rush linebacker in a 3-4. His athleticism was just ridiculous. It jumped off the screen at me. And even at just 235 pounds, Beasley was plenty strong as evidenced by 35(!) reps of 225 pounds at the combine. The guy also ran a damn 4.5 in the 40 and jumped 41 inches for his vertical leap. Even if it was just his athletic gifts that attracted a team that is one helluva performance.
But what impressed me even more than all that was Beasley's technique as a pass rusher. I have often said that all too often I see guys who are athletic on film, but their technique absolutely sucks so they don't make nearly as many plays as they should. Beasley was one of those exceptions, however,
He used his hands well to keep offensive linemen off of him, he just about always used an escape move to finish his pass rush, and he had several different moves in his toolbox. Somewhere along the way Beasley got some really good coaching in college and it showed.
It also stuck out to me that Beasley usually expected to beat his man. While some guys would just be happy to get close to the quarterback, this guy was constantly going for the strip as well as the sack. That's the kind of confidence I want to see in any pass rusher.
I was so hyped about what I saw on his tape that I actually predicted before the draft that he would touch double digit sacks as a rookie. I just couldn't see a way, barring injury, that he wouldn't get at least close to that feat, even if he encountered bad coaching or a bad scheme fit. I just felt like when you have a guy with that much talent it's kind of hard to screw him up.
Well ... let's just say I was wrong.
Not only did Beasley not get double digits sacks as a rookie, he was actually a whole six sacks away from doing so. Hell, at one point last year he was even struggling to get playing time, let alone get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
This offseason the Falcons decided to move Beasley to a new position at linebacker and to have more people do hands-on work with him to help him improve his pass rush. I'm not going to pass judgment on those moves just yet, but I will say that it probably wasn't what I would have done. I also wouldn't line him up on the left side as a pass rusher rather than the right side either, but here we are.
Regardless of my personal preferences Beasley looked better through the first four weeks of this season, even if the stat sheet didn't necessarily reflect that. He was flashing more and more every week, but after a disappointing rookie season some folks wanted a lot more than just flash from last year's number eight pick, and rightfully so.
Sunday against the Broncos, folks got some flash and then some.
Let me acknowledge right off the top that the Broncos were without their normal starting right tackle in Donald Stephenson. Ty Sambrailo started in his place, as he had the previous two weeks, and let's just say he is certainly not on Stephenson's level.
I wanted to get that out of the way right up front because I know some hatin' ass haters will use the "he did it against a backup" excuse to devalue Beasley's performance, but like I always say, if it was that easy why didn't the other Falcons pass rushers have the same kind of big day against Sambrailo?
It's not like Beasley plays the whole game. I can't for the life of me figure out why the Falcons take him out of the game as much as they do, even on some obvious passing downs, but I also don't coach for Atlanta. So being as other guys had opportunities to rush Sambrailo, and later Michael Schofield who replaced Sambrailo after Beasley kept torching him, why couldn't those guys get four sacks and two caused fumbles like Beasley did since it was supposedly a cake walk?
Exactly. Now hush.
Personally, I don't give a damn who you are going against. If you get four sacks in an NFL game that is a big fucking deal, period.
What should be encouraging for Falcons fans is how Beasley got those sacks. This wasn't a case where the Broncos forgot to block him a few times or other guys got pressure and then Beasley just cleaned up after them. No, he legit beat whichever right tackle the Broncos rolled out there with good get off, good speed and good technique four times to notch every single one of those sacks.
He actually won more pass rushes than those four sacks, but on those other plays the ball just came out too fast. But this was easily the most impressive game of Beasley's young career, and it was also something that he can keep building on for the rest of the season.
All four of the sacks Beasley notched came off some variation of the same speed rush from the left edge. The first one that came with 4:22 left in first quarter was just your standard fare dip-and-rip move. The second one, with 1:38 left in the first quarter, was another dip-and-rip move, but this time Beasley made sure to "dent" Sambrailo's inside wrist to shorten the corner. He also was able to reach with his outside hand and and knock the ball out, although Denver's rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch was able to recover the fumble.
The third sack about midway through the third quarter was, you guessed it, another dip-and-rip move. Beasley was once again able to swat the ball out, but Broncos running back DeVontae Booker recovered that one for the home team as well.
The fourth and final sack was another dent, dip-and-rip move, but this time it was on Schofield, who had been moved out from guard to right tackle to try to stop the bleeding.
You might remember Schofield playing right tackle from last year when Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack torched him for four out of the five sacks Mack got in Week 14. Beasley certainly didn't take it any easier on him than he had Sambrailo, running right by Schofield and taking Lynch down yet again.
I know the scorekeeper for some reason gave Dwight Freeney half of that sack, but Beasley got there well ahead of him and never lost contact during the tackle. That should be changed to Beasley's fourth full sack of the game in short order.
Those four sacks totaled 29 yards in lost yardage. And it's worth noting that Beasley had four other tackles to boot, including two when he was spying Lynch and limited him to two yards or less both times and another when he ran 26 yards down the field to tackle Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders after he caught a pass.
By any measurement that was one helluva a game, but when you think about the fact that Beasley matched in 60 minutes what took him all of last season to do, that puts his big day in even better perspective. While one game does not a season make, Beasley's performance on Sunday should at least quiet his detractors for awhile. Bigger than that, Beasley's big day helped his team take down the previously unbeaten Broncos on their home turf.
After that kind of breakout game it was a no brainer to name Vic Beasley my Hoss Of The Week for Week 5 on the NFL season.