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Vic Beasley has taken a huge step forward in his second season with the Falcons

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It’s been a long time since Atlanta has gotten this kind of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Vic Beasley had one hell of a game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. He had three sacks, which tied him with Von Miller — yeah, the Super Bowl 50 MVP — for sacks on the season.

After a rookie campaign which Beasley finished with four sacks, he’s certainly progressed. Right now, Beasley has 13.5 sacks this season — the first time any Falcons player has had double-digit sacks in recent memory — and it seriously puts him at the top of the entire NFL through 14 weeks for sacks this season.

Take a moment to absorb that. The Falcons actually have the best pass rusher in the league on the roster at this particular moment in time.

As a matter of fact, let’s relive this particular sack, during which Beasley forced a fumble — one of six forced fumbles this season for the second-year linebacker — and then returned it for a touchdown.

This is exquisite. Beasley blows past the offensive lineman tasked with trying to contain him. He’s relentless in getting to rookie quarterback, and first overall pick, Jared Goff. He knocks the ball out of Goff’s grasp, and catches it on the bounce. It’s a scoop-and-score from there. If one play this season exemplifies Beasley’s development, it’s this one.

Beasley looks more confident, that’s for sure. He told me there are a few factors that go into his newfound confidence.

“Just hard work in the offseason, and coaches present different game plans to me, and me just being confident,” Beasley said. “Just taking those game plans and executing them on game day, and then the help of Dwight. He’s been a great help for our whole defensive front.”

Dwight Freeney has been a phenomenal addition to this defense. He hasn’t just contributed on the field. He’s helped Beasley learn what it means to be a pro.

If you refer back to All or Nothing, the Amazon series featuring the Arizona Cardinals, Freeney was featured breaking down film on the Green Bay Packers. He choreographed his performance against Green Bay Packers tackle Don Barclay, explaining to his teammates in Arizona how he was going to play the “game within the game” to get after Aaron Rodgers.

This is what Freeney is teaching Beasley how to do, and it has helped him take a step forward this season.

Beasley told me that the game has also slowed down for him quite a bit.

“The experience that I gained over the past year, I definitely learned a lot about the offenses and the plays they like to run,” Beasley said. “Just studying habits in the film room, and then just applying that on the field.”

One thing you may have noticed about Beasley this season is that he is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. Beasley thinks that is one of the areas where he’s taken a step forward this season.

“I think I’ve improved in the ability to be relentless,” Beasley said. “Like this past game, I was able to get one of the most impressive sacks that I’ve had so far in my career, where I was able to get him with one arm. That just shows the hard work that I’ve put in, and then just that dog-like mentality.”

Take a look at that sack.

Yeah. It really does show that dog-like mentality.

Beasley’s rookie performance was met with a lot of criticism, but he has taken a massive step forward in his second season. It’s been a long time since the Falcons have had a consistent pass rush, and Beasley’s ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been a huge factor in the team’s success this season.