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Posts tagged with "Vic Beasley"

Can the Falcons deliver a better offensive performance than Week 1? We’re bullish.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

We’re back! Another week, another chance to put your randomly useful ability to project the statistical output of a football team to use.

Here we simply look at the projected team total for points and yardage (and points and yardage allowed) and break out the yardage and scoring outputs on offense, and the big plays on defense. Since we have the Falcons winning again this week, I hope we’re at least somewhatright here.

How’d I do last week? I was off by 8 points and 58 yards on offense, and 3 points and 14 yards on defense. My closest projects were Matt Ryan (who did not have 3 TDs, but did have 321 yards, just one above where I thought he’d be) and Vic Beasley (who did indeed have one sack), but I wasn’t close otherwise because I severely underrated the Bears.

Here’s my projections against the Packers. Share yours in the comments, if you would.

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At least, we think so.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I believe that most people have properly rated the Falcons offense heading into the 2017 season. The average analyst, pundit and fan is comfortable thinking of the Falcons are one of the NFL’s best, though probably slightly less effective than they were in 2016. That’s all well and good.

The defense, on the other hand? The defense appears to be underrated.

Take Football Outsiders, which does a marvelous job of building out projections for each season based on in-depth analyses of performance over the last few years, among many other variables, to try to produce a quality forecast for how each NFL team will perform and rank statistically in a given season. They’re not always right—they had the Falcons with a less than 30% chance of making the playoffs last year—but they run a much more rigorous analysis than other shops. And where do they have the 2017 Falcons defense ranking, you ask?

24th! After they were 26th overall a year ago. We’re still waiting for FO’s explainer for this, but it does underscore the fact that not everyone is seeing and forecasting the same kind of defensive improvement that bullish Falcons fans are. They may not be hyper-impressed by the addition of Dontari Poe, they may see some regression from Vic Beasley, or they might just not think this unit can gel and improve hugely. The team did get better-than-expected contributions from Deion Jones and Keanu Neal last year and still don’t have an obviously elite set of pass rushers to work with, so the skepticism is understandable to a certain extent.

Whatever the rationale, they’re being underrated. If they’re not, this season may not go the way we want it to.

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There’s three we can think of for a deep, capable team.

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Training camp is here! The Falcons are arriving today and will practice in front of the public tomorrow, which means we can get our sweet, sweet football fix in the coming days. For the Falcons, it’s an opportunity to look at the roster and figure out how they’re going to get down to 53 men and 11 men on the practice squad.

While they do so, they may also cast about the free agent market in search of upgrades. After spending way too much time looking at the 90 man roster over the offseason, here’s our top remaining potential needs for these Falcons. There are very few!

Swing tackle

Andreas Knappe is the early leader, but when you have a bunch of undrafted free agents competing to back up your quality starting tackles, you have to consider it a need until someone emerges. The market isn’t exactly loaded with options, but it’s very likely a decent enough veteran shakes loose between now and September.

Pass rusher

Right now, the team has Vic BeasleyAdrian ClaybornDerrick ShelbyTakkarist McKinley, and I guess Brooks Reed as their most compelling pass rushers who can play defensive end. You’ll note that one of those players is a rookie and two are recovering from major injuries, and only Beasley and maybe McKinley seem likely to be capable of high-end production.

That’s why the Dwight Freeney idea won’t die. The Falcons could definitely stand to add a useful edge rusher, but they’ll likely need to sacrifice depth elsewhere to get it done.

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Our staff leans toward yes.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Kendall Jackson

Yes. The Falcons need sacks.

Matt Chambers

The fans love Freeney, and he had plenty of juice down the stretch to be a worthy addition. I imagine the Falcons will want to get the higher priority Devonta Freeman deal done first, and they reportedly expect it done before camp. Camp is quickly approached, and while we would all love Freeney, I have one concern: the Falcons have made huge improvements to the defensive line. I expect the “starters” to be a rotation of Vic BeasleyBrooks Reed, and Takkarist McKinley, with DE/DT players like Adrian Clayborn, Tyson Crawford, Derrick Shelby playing end a bit more with the Dontari Poe addition. We may also see a few other guys get a chance to rush the passer, like De’Vondre Campbell. Freeney then becomes an expensive third-down specialist who may only play on half the third-and-long situations. I still want Freeney back, but I will completely understand if the Falcons move forward with their current pass rushers.

Dave Choate

I don’t see it happening, at least not to start the year. The Falcons added Takkarist McKinley in the draft class, and they have a rotation of inside/outside defensive linemen who are useful chess pieces for Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel’s defense. Freeney would be the second or third-best pass rusher once again on this defense, and

Quinn, I believe, wants to see the collection of talent he has in action during training camp and preseason before he brings Freeney on. I think if he’s satisfied, as I anticipate he will be, Freeney won’t end up joining the team. I’d love to see him come back, but at this point, I’m dubious.

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Fact: Vic Beasley pays $4 for footlong sandwiches at Subway

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley racked up 15.5 wonderful, amazing, jaw dropping sacks during the 2016 regular season. I suck at math, but that is a lot of sacks, which is why he won the sack crown. Falcons fans everywhere think the world of Beasley. Meanwhile, he’s been productive this offseason, participating in a special pass rush summit hosted by Von Miller for the league’s most elite pass rushers. So what does 2017 hold for Beasley?

Pro Football Focus did an interesting piece yesterday about the importance of pressuring the quarterback. More to the point, PFF writer William Moy highlighted the importance of turning pressures into sacks. And while he certainly respects Beasley’s skillset, he’s skeptical about his future sack totals.

Beasley finished the year with 45 total pressures. Despite besting Khalil Mack by five sacks, Mack had more than double (96) the number of pressures that Beasley had … [i]f Beasley is going to force himself into the conversation in terms of elite pass-rushers, he’s going to need generate pressure much more consistently, because he will be very unlikely to repeat his conversion rate of notching a sack on 28.5 percent of all of his pressures in 2017 and beyond.

Basically Moy thinks Beasley’s 2016 sack total isn’t indicative of his status as a pass rusher. Moy thinks Beasley is a great football player, but he doubts Beasley’s ability to rack up 15.5 sacks again, absent a lot more pressures. It’s a fair criticism, even if it’s a little nit picky.

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To help what remains of the offseason pass a little faster, I’m going to start delivering little quizzes a couple of times a week to test your Falcons knowledge and hopefully teach us all a little something about this team’s history. We’re going to start with

If you’ve paid attention over the last couple of years, you know that the Falcons’ list of all-time leading sack artists gets sad in a big hurry. People hated Kroy Biermann when he was in Atlanta, yet he’s 12th all-time on the career list. Vic Beasley has played exactly two NFL seasons and is already 16th. This is not a Hall of Fame bunch, by and large, though Claude Humphrey, Tommy Nobis and others made their marks before the sack was an official stat.

So here’s today’s question: How many players on the career franchise sack list can you name? I suspect most of you will get the top two in short order, but after that it gets difficult in a real hurry.

I tried this myself blind and got seven of the names in the top ten, but not in the correct order. See if you can do better.

Due to a lack of funds, the only prize here will be sweet, sweet recognition from your peers. No cheating.

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Atlanta Falcons nose tackle Grady Jarrett had his high school jersey retired last Friday night. If he continues to play like he did in Super Bowl LI, Jarrett might have the same thing happen to his NFL jersey one day.

Grady Jarrett tied a Super Bowl record with three sacks against Tom Brady. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Although the Falcons’ historic collapse in a 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots won’t soon be forgotten, folks also shouldn’t forget how Jarrett wreaked havoc with three sacks on Tom Brady, tying a Super Bowl record previously shared by the late Reggie White, Darnell Dockett and Kony Ealy. Jarrett, who had four quarterback hits on Brady, caught the attention of many in attendance, including former Falcons and New York Giants pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora, now an analyst in London. Umenyiora said the 6-foot, 300-pound Jarrett reminded him of two-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey (6-1, 305) of the Tennessee Titans.

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