Atlanta Falcons: Retaining Vic Beasley Was the Wrong Move

Atlanta Falcons, Vic Beasley, Jr. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Vic Beasley, Jr. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Vic Beasley Jr. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Beasley’s Production or Lack There of

Nearly 13 million dollars is a lot of money for the Atlanta Falcons to pay to a guy that just has not lived up to the expectations of a top ten pick. Beasley has had only one stellar season since being selected number eight in the 2015 NFL draft. Vic Beasley was outstanding during the Falcons NFC Championship season. He led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 and forced fumbles with six that year. He also had a robust 11 tackles for a loss and 17 hits on enemy quarterbacks.

Outside of his season as the NFL sacks leader, Vic Beasley has been a major disappointment. His career started with four sacks as a rookie the season prior to his one All Pro year. The season following in 2017, Beasley regressed from 15.5 sacks to just 5. He followed that up this past season with another disappointing five sack year. In fact combining the other three seasons of sacks still doesn’t equal the fantastic total that Vic registers in 2016. This makes his one good year seem like more of a fluke than something that can be duplicated.

More than just a lack of sacks, Beasley just flat-out has not played well since 2016. This bears out in his grades received from Pro Football Focus. Vic has posted career low grades in his last two seasons. He posted a 56.1 for the 2017 season after registering a career best 72.3 in 2016. This past season Beasley hit a new low. He was given a grade of only 42.2 for the 2018 campaign. He was graded 47.3 against the run, 55.8 as a pass rusher, and just 38.2 when dropping into coverage. Yet those were not his worse category. Vic received a paltry 24.1 for tacking due to missing an inexcusable 14 tackles last season.

The Falcons made their biggest mistake with Vic Beasley by not retaining the services of future Hall of Fame edge rusher Dwight Freeney for one more season. It’s no coincidence that Beasley had his best season while being tutored by Freeney. Rick Kamla of 92.9 the Game mentioned an interesting stat. Four of the five sacks that Beasley made, came after veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin joined the team. That’s just more evidence that Vic performs better when he’s tutored and motivated by a veteran leader. This makes retaining the services of Irvin paramount. The Atlanta Falcons should make resigning Irvin a priority as long as the can agree to a fair number for both parties.

Many analysts and fans blame the fact that Vic Beasley played some linebacker in 2017 for stunting his growth. However I feel this is over emphasized as Vic Beasley only dropped into coverage 32 times for the entire season. That’s less than twice a game when you factor in Atlanta’s two playoff games against the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Another factor that I do believed has hurt the development of Vic Beasley, is the fact that Dan Quinn hired Bryant Young to coach the defensive line. As a former defensive tackle, he is not the most qualified man to teach edge rushers how to get to the quarterback. The Atlanta Falcons should have written a blank check for their former standout Chuck Smith to coach the defensive line. That ship has now likely sailed as Smith is fully invest in his pass rush academy, where he teaches pass rushing to players all around the NFL.