The NFL is all about the games which go on within the actual football game itself — a quarterback and linebacker matching each other audible for audible, a wide receiver and cornerback going step for step with one another ect.
Arguably the most important battle that goes on in a football game happens every single play — the battle between the defensive lineman and the offensive lineman within the trenches. If you win in the trenches then you’ll likely win the game itself.
Vic Beasley Jr. is a former number eight overall pick, selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2015 draft in hopes of getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. He battles with the opposing team’s right tackle throughout most of the afternoon on Sundays in the Fall.
Beasley hasn’t done a great, good or even adequate job of getting that pressure on the opposing QB this season — he has just one sack to his name and is ranked 171st out of 175 eligible edge rushers by Pro Football Focus with a grotesque overall grade of 41.9. Simply put, Beasley has been a liability for the Falcons when he’s been on the field this season, even if he’s come close to making an impact at times.
If those stats don’t do a justice in describing Vic Beasley’s season, then maybe this tweet from 92.9 The Game’s Mike Conti will:
No. He has seven combined tackles and six penalties (three accepted, three declined). https://t.co/wpiMNq65X3— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) November 12, 2018
The dance of the pass rush between a DE/OLB and the tackle lined up in front of him can be compared to a game of chess. It’s all about moves and counter-moves, setting the tackle up, getting him on his toes and then punishing him for guessing incorrectly.
Vic Beasley has an excellent initial move with his speed rush, which stems from his gifted first step that you just can’t teach. Things go completely downhill from there, however, as he’s never exhibited consistent proficiency in any counter-moves throughout his career.
The speed rush is great to have, but an NFL-caliber right tackle will shut you down if you throw that rush at him over and over again.
You need more than one pass rush move the same way you need more than one piece on the chess board. Vic Beasley is exclusively using his bishop to try and attack his opponent’s pieces, but if you do nothing but position your one piece to attack, then your opponent will simply move his piece out of harms way when it’s his turn.
The key to winning a game of chess is to use the threat of your other pieces (pawns, knights, bishops and rooks) to restrict your adversary’s movements while you expose his patterns. A consistently successful pass rush results from using the threat of your arsenal of moves to keep the offensive lineman guessing as to what you’ll do next.
This is Beasley’s fourth year in the NFL, and he’s still exclusively using his bishop. Maybe it’s out of necessity at this point, but if that’s the case then it would just bring us to an even scarier conclusion within this metaphor — when you take a hard look at Vic Beasley’s chess board, he’s trying to win a complex, difficult game with one piece.
In year four, the speed rush is all Beasley has to lean on, and with nothing else at his disposal, it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself on the outs in Atlanta.