The case for Vic Beasley to win Defensive Player of the Year
Something has awoken within Vic Beasley.
After playing through a torn labrum and totaling four sacks his rookie season, Beasley has taken a giant leap forward in 2016. A leap so great that it should propel the former top-10 pick from Clemson to the front in the race for Defensive Player of the Year.
Beasley is currently tied with Von Miller for the league lead (13.5) in sacks. Impressively, 12.5 of those sacks came after week 4, which is the most in the NFL in that span. Beasley has posted four multi-sack games this year and also leads the NFL with 6 forced fumbles.
Von Miller is a stellar defensive player but benefits from the quality players around him. Denver’s defense has 3 Pro Bowl defensive backs that are outstanding in coverage. Quite simply, good coverage means less open receivers. Less open receivers means quarterback holds onto the ball longer. This is where the Von Miller-type pass rushers comes in reap the benefits.
Meanwhile in Atlanta, a young secondary has been dissected to the tune of an NFL-worst, 275.2 passing yards against per game. The Falcons rank 28th in total defense while Denver ranks 3rd. Atlanta’s defense has been putrid in 2016 and hurts Beasley’s case for DPOY.
Or does it?
Oct 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Vic Beasley (44) in the second half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Falcons defeated the Broncos 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Since Vic Beasley broke out in week 5, the Falcons’ defense has risen from last in the league in total sacks to 15th. Of Atlanta’s 29 team sacks, Beasley accounts for 48.2% of them. Factor in the attention he commands, thus freeing up lanes for teammates, and that percentage is much higher. If anything, Atlanta’s improvement on defense coinciding with Beasley’s emergence only cements how instrumental he is for the Falcons.
Von Miller currently accounts for 34.6% of Denver’s sacks.
If not for Beasley, the Falcons aren’t sitting in first place of the NFC South right now. Atlanta’s defense lacks quality pass rushers, but Beasley’s knack for the big play is giving the offense a chance to win games. The result is an 8-5 record and control of their own destiny.
Oakland’s Khalil Mack is also in the DPOY running, but Von Miller should remain Beasley’s primary competition. Ironically, Beasley’s breakout game came at Denver, where posted 3.5 sacks and forced 2 fumbles. That game couldn’t have come sooner as many fans began to write Beasley off.
Some even labeled Beasley a “bust” after an underwhelming season opener against Tampa Bay.
The competition for DPOY will remain stiff, but Vic Beasley becomes the front-runner with another game like we saw last week in Los Angeles.
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