Back when I named Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley as my Hoss of the Week for Week 5, he was still in the process of shaking his haters off. See, some folks thought Beasley was drafted a lil’ too high last year when Atlanta took him in the top 10, so when he had a somewhat underwhelming rookie season those same folks rushed to call the guy a bust after just one year.
As ridiculous as that was, I gotta admit that I took that shit a little personally after I gave Beasley a fantastic fucking evaluation when I did his draft profile. Like, I'm going to be wrong about players projections sometimes, but I was pretty sure I wasn't wrong this time, and calling him a bust was kinda like saying my evaluation skills were trash.
Yeah, I was as surprised as anyone that Beasley started off slow, but there were several factors that I felt held him back as a rookie. With a move to outside linebacker and an emphasis on playing with superb technique like I saw on his college tape, there was every reason to believe he could bounce back this season and put up some good sack numbers. It didn't make any sense that anyone would write the kid off that quickly unless they had their own agenda.
So yeah, I admit that I started off this season low key pulling for the kid to play well enough that some of those disingenuous folks would have to eat a big shut-the-fuck-up sandwich when it was all said and done.
And Beasley has done just that.
I have to say, that even I am a little shocked at how much better Beasley looks this year.
The Beasley whose college tape I watched was supremely confident as a pass rusher, but that was sorely lacking from his game last season. This year, that confidence just jumps off the screen when I watch him play, it has gotten more and more noticeable as the season has gone on.
Beasley is no longer making pass rush moves just hoping to beat his guy. Now when I watch his film, it is readily apparent that he expects to beat whichever offensive lineman he lines up across, and he also expects to take the quarterback down very shortly thereafter.
When you have a guy who is as explosive and athletic as Beasley is, who also uses good technique, and you add a big ole heap of confidence to the mix?
*Bernie Mac voice* Trouble, trouble.
Just ask Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein. He had the unenviable task of trying to block Beasley one on one Sunday because evidently the Rams offensive coaching staff doesn't watch a lick of film. I mean I understand why, all things considered, Beasley's name isn't thrown around like Von Miller's or Khalil Mack's, but it's Week 14 and Beasley has been whupping ass all damn year. But did the Rams come into the game with a plan to help out Havenstein with chip blocks from the running backs or something?
I'm sure that decision wasn't the deciding factor in Rams ownership finally, mercifully, deciding to part ways with Jeff Fisher on Monday, but lack of attention to detail has been a hallmark of Fisher's time as head coach. Starting the game without a plan to account for Beasley is coaching malpractice, but to continue to let him baptize Havenstein one on one, over and over again, was just dumb AF. Period.
I give Havenstein credit for actually trying like hell to keep Beasley off his quarterback, but he was simply overmatched and there wasn't much he could do. Hell, the few times he did get help, things didn't turn out much better.
Beasley was masterful in the variety of his moves, and his refusal to be denied.
Beasley actually had four sacks against the Rams instead of the three that show up on the stat sheet. The fourth sack was negated by a holding penalty against Greg Robinson that the Falcons decided was more advantageous than the sack and the fumble it caused. I will explain later.
Beasley's first sack of the day came with a little less than four minutes left in the first quarter. Atlanta decided to blitz Goff with cornerback Brian Poole, who was lined up on Beasley's side over the slot receiver. Poole came with a contain rush outside while the defensive tackle inside of Beasley, Grady Jarrett, got upfield in the B gap. That left Beasley to stunt inside behind Jarrett through the A gap to even up the rush lane.
The Rams slid their line to the blitz and center Tim Barnes looked to be in good position to block Beasley and give Goff a chance to throw the ball downfield.
Last season I would have expected the more tentative version of Beasley to run right into Barnes and allow himself to be blocked. On Sunday, however, Beasley avoided Barnes's block attempt to the opposite A gap, then viciously ripped through Barnes’ shoulder to escape. As soon as Beasley was free, he exploded up field and shot at Goff's legs to take him down for a loss of seven yards.
The second sack was the one that got erased due to penalty. It happened with 8:06 left in the second quarter and the Rams facing second-and-5 from their own 30-yard line. LA had an extra lineman, Andrew Donnal, lined up as a tight end on Beasley's side. Donnal tried to pass block Beasley on the snap of the football, but the combination of his tight alignment to the line of scrimmage and Beasley's killer get off was too much and he was beaten almost immediately around the edge.
Havenstein bailed the hell out of his stance to try to catch up to Beasley before he could turn the corner, but he was off balance. Beasley saw Havenstein and simply stuck his foot in the ground and changed directions with an inside move. They went by each other like two ships passing in the night. Beasley stuck his hand out to hit Goff's forearm. The ball was jostled loose and Goff's arm went forward with an empty hand.
Unfortunately for Beasley, the ball bounced forward and the Rams recovered it, which is why Atlanta took the holding penalty on Robinson instead of the result of the play.
That doesn't change the fact that Beasley beat two guys for a sack and got the ball out though.
I seent it!
On the third sack, Beasley showed off both his crazy athleticism and his tenacity. There were a little less than five minutes left in the first half and the Rams were facing a second-and-11 at midfield. Once again, Beasley had an excellent get off which put pressure on Havenstein from the start. This time, Havenstein was able to catch up to Beasley and get both hands on him, but to do so he had to turn his shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. Turning like that usually means the offensive lineman will have a hard time meeting force with force and won't be able to sit down on any kind of power rush.
So what Beasley did was hit Havenstein with a quasi power rush instead of trying to run around him like he had been. Just the initial punch into Havenstein's chest was enough to shorten the corner so that Beasley was within arm's reach of Goff.
Now, I would have liked to see Beasley escape off the block with a rip move or an arm over, but it says a lot that while he was still engaged with Havenstein, Beasley was able to reach out and grab a hold of Goff. Beasley basically allowed Havenstein to pancake him, because he knew that as long as he still had a handful of Goff's jersey, the quarterback was going to end up on the ground as well. That's what you call taking one for the team, and it went down for a loss of 11 yards.
The fourth sack of the day was Beasley’s pièce de résistance. Beasley got off the ball like a savage, and simply dipped and ripped on Havenstein, who was beaten like a rented mule. Beasley was on Goff damn near before he had even finished his drop back.
This play was like a flashback to what I had seen from Beasley in college. He was so confident that he was going to beat Havenstein that he wasn't surprised at all when he did just that. Because he knew he would be able to get by Havenstein, he wasn't shocked by the moment and he was able to calmly reach out, knock the ball out of Goff's hand, pick it up, and run it back 21 yards for a touchdown.
You can't make a play like that when you are just hoping to beat the blocker across from you. Speaking from my own experience, you only make that play when you expect to win on the rush.
Yeah, maybe it is still a little too early to be mentioning Beasley in the same breath as Miller or Mack, but that was the just the kind of play we associate with players of their caliber. Oh, and just FYI, with the three sacks that Beasley officially notched Sunday, he moved into a tie with Miller for the league lead in sacks with 13.5. Had the Falcons not accepted that penalty, Beasley would be leading the league in sacks after 14 weeks in just his second year in the NFL.
The "Beasley is a bust" crowd gotta be heated right now.
This kid has only gotten better and better this season, and his presence as a pass rusher has certainly been a major component of the Falcons’ success. Sunday's performance was the fourth time this season that Vic Beasley has had two or more sacks in a game, by the way. And he still has plenty of room to grow and improve. If Beasley keeps this up it won't be "too early" for much longer.
Pretty soon Beasley will be one of those guys that teams consistently double team. The Rams refused to do so Sunday, and Beasley made them pay for their insolence. With that dominant display of defensive line play, Vic Beasley convincingly earned my Hoss of the Week Award for Week 14, making him my second two-time winner of the award this year along with Khalil Mack. I'd say it’s about time for some of y’all to start putting some respeck on his name!