The Vic Beasley-at-linebacker experiment appears to be drawing to a close, for better or for worse. With the team getting a healthy, performing corps of linebackers back on the field, they’re ready to get Beasley closer to the line of scrimmage and back to doing what he should do best: Rushing the passer.
What Quinn is actually suggesting here, though, isn’t quite so straightforward. On one hand, yes, the Falcons are clearly going to play Beasley less at linebacker and give those snaps to De’Vondre Campbell, giving him more time at defensive end. On the other hand, it’s an open question as to whether Vic is actually going to get more pass rushing snaps, or whether he’ll be any more effective doing so than he has been.
Dan Quinn said Vic Beasley Jr. has had less rushing opportunities to get sacks because he's asked Beasley to do a lot more with dropping into coverage. Quinn expects to feature Beasley more as a rusher moving forward the rest of the season with Duke... https://t.co/GLxSl9Cexe— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) December 14, 2017
As many have noted, Vic Beasley did not actually spend all that many snaps dropping back into coverage, though it was apparent when he did. The bigger issue with the switch is that it did not lead to increased pass rushing production, and while Beasley could be a tremendous linebacker over the long haul, you’re wasting his best skill if you’re not having him chase quarterbacks. No matter how crowded your rotation at defensive end might be.
In many ways, 2016 was a bit of a curse for Beasley, who had a tremendous season but feasted on weak tackles and put up numbers that virtually ensured his 2017 sack total would be viewed as a disappointment. Beasley’s still generated lots of good pressure, but he’s had some weak games and hasn’t quite closed out a few sacks, which means his overall numbers look very disappointing compared to last year. Such are the hot-and-cold fortunes of many a pass rusher, and Beasley looks like he’ll be streakier than most when it comes to putting up sacks.
So the net effect of this move is not likely to be gobs of sacks, unfortunately. No matter what Beasley does to close out the year, he’ll get some criticism for not coming close to his 15.5 sack effort last year. If he can close out the season on a high note and build some momentum for the (hopefully) inevitable playoff run, though, we’ll all have plenty to celebrate.