In 2017 the Atlanta Falcons defense was quietly one of the best in the business in terms of points against and yard against ranking eight and ninth respectfully. One of the issues for the Falcons defense last season was creating takeaways as illustrated below:
Int + FR
*Int (Interception), FF (Forced Fumble), FR (Fumble Recovery)
Head Coach Dan Quinn and Defensive Coordinator Marquand Manuel are known for being all about the ball. This season the Falcons finally have all the pieces to operate in more 3 safety looks which should create more opportunities for takeaways.
23 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 9.5, sacks, 1 pass deflection
25 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery,11 sacks, 1 defensive touchdown
21 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 5 sacks
17 tackles, 2.5 sacks
Who is the real Vic Beasley? That is a question everyone wants to know. In 2016 he led the league in sacks with 15.5.
In 2017 he had only five. Injuries as well as taking snaps at strong-side linebacker may have aided in the dip in production, however this year he is returning full-time to defensive end. This could be a make it, break year for him as his fifth-year option has been exercised and second-year pass rusher Takkarist McKinley looks to tear up the league.
I don’t expect another 15.5 sack season from Beasley, however I do expect a nice bounce back. Pass rusher Brooks Reed has quietly mastered his craft, especially the spin move, which was taught by Dwight Freeney in 2016. I expect him to be a key contributor both as a run stopper and pass rusher.