The Falcons’ new defensive coordinator was really jacked about the thought of getting hands-on with pass-rusher Vic Beasley and working out some new strategies for his whack-a-quarterback game. The old technique – try to go straight-line and fast and hope for the best – just wasn’t effective anymore. A stalemate had developed these last two seasons, with the emphasis on stale.
An excitable and positive fellow, a two-legged motivational book on tape, the new DC was going to make Beasley one of his prime projects. It was going to be one of the intrigues of the offseason – jumper-cable coach meets stalled, one-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher. All starting with this month’s humble organized team activities, or OTAs. What a great time to put in some work on The Vic Beasley Betterment Project. Even if they’re only a handful of OTA sessions, before anything gets mandatory.
And why wouldn’t Beasley show for those, even if they are technically “voluntary?”
He had no financial beef. The Falcons already had shown him good faith, picking up the option year of his contract, at more than $12 million. When, frankly, they may have done better by cutting him or trying to renegotiate with him and, in turn, taking a hand plane to their salary cap.
There is a such a strong institutional desire to get Beasley back to the 2016 level, where he compiled more sacks (15.5) than in his other three Falcons seasons combined. The Falcons obviously hadn’t given up on him, even as the grumbles on social media metastasized. Here was a chance for Beasley to reward the team’s faith.
Here was a chance to demonstrate a real interest in working with the new leader of the defense, in the most positive setting possible. Why wouldn’t Beasley be the guy turning on the lights in the locker room every workout morning, before anyone else got there?
His new defensive coordinator is so earnest and so anxious to make Beasley better, why, not to show up would be like sticking a pin in a shiny Mylar balloon at his own party.
Yet, on his first chance to impress the new guy – OK, enough, we all know that coach Dan Quinn took over the role – Beasley let him down. Whether that’s the first disappointment of many to come this calendar year is to be determined.
When Quinn touched on Beasley’s absence from OTAs last week, he obviously was not pleased. He doesn’t do disappointment very well. He always paints in high gloss. You have to listen carefully to catch the displeasure.
“He wanted to stay doing (his own) training that he was doing, on some of the things we have spoken about,” Quinn said. “He’s certainly applying it in the training, but of course, there is nothing like the on the field stuff.”
It’s not like Beasley is spending his time at a beach resort, getting fat on strawberry daiquiris. This weekend, for instance, he’s scheduled to host his fifth five-on-five basketball tournament, in the tropical setting of Adairsville. All proceeds to benefit the Bartow County Boys and Girls Club.
Which is nice.
Still, he should be at Falcons OTAs. Every one of them. These sessions just didn’t appear overnight on the schedule, like an unexplained rash.
After your coach already laid out how much he wanted to work with you, not showing up for the first chance to do just that was an excruciatingly bad look. Nothing about Beasley suggests he skipped the practices with bad intent. It was, again, just a really bad look.
In the end, a few voluntary practices probably won’t decide the outcome of Beasley’s career here. These missed sessions are more likely to be looked back upon as a symptom, not a cause.
Clearly, though, here was a lost opportunity to get at least a little bit right with Quinn and the defense. Showing up is kind of a minimum requirement toward getting better. Because, while the new DC is a energetic sort, it’s not like he’s going to start making house calls.
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