If you ask any Falcons fans, they will all tell you how terrible Vic Beasley is and how they are glad to be rid of him. Going into his film, I was not expecting anything good but came out pleasantly surprised. The expectations of being the eighth overall pick and then going on to lead the NFL in sacks (15.5) in 2016 caused some unfair criticisms to Beasley’s more recent performance. Now let’s look at what the film tells us.
Vic Beasley wins on the field with his elite athleticism. Coming out of college, Beasley ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash. He was a top performer at the combine in every category among edge rushers. Also, he was better than Harold Landry in every test, except for the three-cone drill.
As a pass rusher, Beasley has tremendous burst and speed to run past opposing tackles. In fact, Beasley has a very similar game to Harold Landry. They both love using their speed dip and bend pass rush move. Beasley will also often incorporate a swipe, chop, or rip to neutralize the hands of the offensive tackle before dipping down and bending the corner. A lot of his sacks and pressures came from this exact move, just like Harold Landry.
For example in this pressure against the Panthers, Beasley initially starts his pass rush by chopping down on the hands of the tackle.
He then transitions this chop into a rip move as he dips down to turn the corner.
Beasley has the ankle flexibility to bend and flatten his pursuit angle horizontally towards the quarterback.
Although he doesn’t get the sack, Beasley forces the quarterback to run out of the pocket and throw a pass on the run.
However, Beasley differs from Landry in that Beasley is much better at converting his speed into power. When opposing offensive tackles set out wide for his speed, Beasley will square up and push them back into the pocket with a bull rush. This bull rush is made effective with the momentum built up with his initial speed.
Vic Beasley can drive back bigger and stronger offensive tackles because they try to overcompensate for his speed. Often when offensive tackles set out wide for speed, they will take too large of a step and result in having a narrow base. A narrow base equals a weak base.
In this rep against the Rams, the offensive tackle does exactly this. Notice how the tackle’s legs are crossed and narrow. This is because he took too large of a step to get in front of Beasley.
When Beasley sees this base, he just attacks with the bull rush and drives the tackle into the quarterback’s lap.
Next, in this play against Terron Armstead, one of the best offensive tackles, I love the technique that Beasley uses to bull rush, Armstead.
Beasley keeps his pad level lower than Armstead’s and keeps his hips and knees in a flexed position to keep driving through his lower body. This gives Beasley a leverage advantage.
Notice where Beasley’s hand placement is on this play. He places his hands on Armstead’s inside shoulders. This placement is crucial because it allows you to transfer the power that you generate with your lower body directly onto the torso to move the blocker. The upper body should merely be a conduit for the power generated from the lower body.
For defending the run, it is similar to his pass-rushing. He uses his elite burst and athleticism to roam sideline to sideline to bring down ball carriers. I was especially impressed with his acceleration in his pursuit to make tackles.
Although on this play Beasley is unblocked, he uses his closing speed to take down Alvin Kamara as he hits the hole.
Again, Beasley is unblocked, but he consistently demonstrates great hustle and speed in his pursuit of the ball carrier.
Vic is also capable of dropping back into coverage, offering the Titans another versatile piece at the edge. For an outside linebacker, Beasley has excellent athleticism and fluid hips to mirror routes and change directions.
In this clip, Beasley shows some nice route anticipation and change of direction skills, nearly leading to an interception. He initially covers the tight end in his zone. As he sees #13 run the shallow crosser into his zone, Beasley makes a hard break to the ball and undercuts the route.
Here Beasley is tasked with covering Alvin Kamara one-on-one and does just enough to stay in front of him.
His weaknesses are again, similar to Harold Landry. As a pass rusher, he is far too one-dimensional. Other than his speed dip and bend, Beasley does not have a diverse set of pass rush moves. Beasley has one fundamental counter move, where he fakes the speed rush outside and then comes back inside. That’s it. While the dip and bend is a fantastic move, that single move doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing offensive tackles.
Although Beasley was able to get eight sacks in 2019, these stats are slightly deceiving. A majority of his sacks are due to hustle and effort rather than his skill and technique. Four of his eight sacks were caused by great coverage and the quarterback holding onto the ball for too long. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that Beasley’s production is a result of the great play from his coverage rather than his skill.
This means that at the very minimum, Beasley will be able to get you four or five sacks just from effort and hustle. Similar to Harold Landry, if Beasley can diversify his pass-rushing approach, his sack total could skyrocket and get back to his 2016 form, which is now looking more like an outlier.
In terms of defending the run, he is usually able to run sideline to sideline to make tackles. However, Beasley does struggle with disengaging from his blocks. There were too many times on film where once he is blocked by an offensive lineman, Beasley would not use his hands to free himself up. He would remain blocked and do nothing.
Whether its pass-rushing or defending the run, I do not question Beasley’s effort level. I question the consistency in his level of play.
This represents a majority of Vic Beasley’s reps during the 2019 season. As you can see, he is active, and effort is not an issue, contrary to popular belief. The problem is that without his speed rush, he is ineffective as a pass rusher. He fails to effectively use his hands to move the tackle to give him a path towards the quarterback.
While writing this article, I felt like I was rewriting the film review that I wrote for Harold Landry. They are nearly identical players. They have the same strengths and weaknesses. I feel very good about having Vic Beasley come in on a rotational role for the Titans, taking over the role that was once held by Kamalei Correa. If you expect any more from Beasley, you will be severely disappointed like Falcons’ fans have been. At the minimum, you get an edge rusher with elite athleticism that can make plays using his speed and hustle. However, at the peak of Beasley’s performance, you are getting a double-digit sack pass rusher. Given that the contract is only one year, this is a solid low-risk, high-reward signing from the Titans.
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