Vic Beasley has played better-than-expected run defense, is tied for the team lead with two sacks, and has had applied a handful of hurries and pressures on opposing quarterbacks thus far in 2015. You might not be aware of that, because there's a large contingent of Falcons fans holding tight to the idea that there is something wrong with the rookie pass rusher six games into his career. See what losing to the Saints does to people?
From Vaughn McClure's latest piece, where he spoke with Beasley directly:
Beasley knows he's capable of playing even better. No one said the transition to the NFL would be seamless, particularly when facing four Pro Bowl tackles (Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Duane Brown, Trent Williams) in your first five pro games. But Beasley also knows he should have been more productive last week against Saints third-string left tackle Tony Hills, who finished the game's final 65 offensive snaps after rookie Andrus Peat left with an MCL sprain.
"I missed a couple sacks," Beasley said. "I could have made a pivotal play in the game and maybe created a turnover. A couple times, I came free and didn't hit [Drew] Brees. I kind of just went right past him."
If you're frothing at the mouth reading that...don't. A rookie who is capable of recognizing his mistakes is a rookie capable of fixing those mistakes, and while his matchup against Taylor Lewan this coming Sunday is an intimidating one, Beasley's speed causes problems for more disciplined tackles. Lewan has seven penalties on the season and can be goaded into holding if Beasley's flying off the edge, so I expect he will have a bounceback game. Even if he's not stellar against Tennessee, remember that it borders on unreasonable to dismiss a player six or seven weeks into his first year, particularly when the rest of the pass rush isn't helping him out.
Dan Quinn has a plan for that, by the way, with D. Orlando Ledbetter writing that the coach believes the problems are more mental than physical:
“We’ll have some four-man rush, some five-man rush, but we went back through all of them,” Quinn said. “Looked at the pressures. Looked at the rushes. Which ones were better for us? Which ones did we convert better? The good news is that there is a lot for us to improve on and I can’t wait to see that happen.”
The bottom line here is that Beasley is still a rookie with immense talent, and while his game against New Orleans was undeniably a disappointing one, he's turned in a fine start to his season. Once he and the rest of Dan Quinny's merry band of pass rushers figure things out, he has the chance to be legitimately great.