<
>

Falcons' Vic Beasley looking to dominate, just like his idol Von Miller

LOS ANGELES -- It certainly means something to Vic Beasley Jr. to be mentioned in the same breath as Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller.

Beasley, the Atlanta Falcons' ascending second-year pass-rusher, now stands tied with Denver's Miller for the NFL lead in sacks with 13.5 after Beasley's three-sack performance in a 42-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

"Von is definitely an inspiration to me," Beasley said. "Coming out of college, I idolized Von and his moves and things. I definitely looked up to him. I know that if I'm up there with him in sacks, I'm definitely doing a good job."

Actually, Beasley's league-leading six forced fumbles for the season -- one more than Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders -- and his 21-yard fumble return for a touchdown against the Rams, give him a little bit of a leg up on Miller at this point. It's the type of dominance the Falcons expected from Beasley when they drafted him eighth overall in 2015.

So does Beasley now consider himself a dominant player?

"I would say I'm definitely becoming a dominant player," Beasley said. "I wouldn't necessarily say I'm dominant yet. I think there's a lot of areas out there that I think I can critique. My tackling, I don't think I'm a very good tackler right now. I'm missing a lot of run tackles. Just that extra edge, if I can get better at that, it will make me a better player."

The 8-5 Falcons, still atop the NFC South with Tampa Bay, are pretty content with the Beasley they're getting now, particularly heading towards the playoffs. Having a game-changer on defense should help complement what can be an unstoppable offense, led by Matt Ryan and a Julio Jones (when healthy). And the Falcons really haven't had game-changing pass-rusher since the days of John Abraham, who holds the Falcons single-season sack record with 16.5.

Seven-time Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney, who continues to be applauded for aiding Beasley's development, can't say enough about his teammate's meteoric rise.

"I told you, Vic is always capable of making some big plays," Freeney said. "When everybody's coordinated and he's humming the way he's been humming lately, he's going to be force to be reckoned with. And teams are going to have to figure out and game plan for him soon. They're either gotta say, 'Hey, we've got to double this boy,' or they don't double him, and he's going to have big games."

What the Falcons need more than anything is for Beasley to continue his strong play, particularly come playoff time. But if there's one aspect he definitely needs to fine-tune its his touchdown celebration after a failed Tony Gonzalez-like basketball stuff against the Rams.

"Well, I was going for the dunk but my legs didn't go up as much as I wanted them to," Beasley said. "So, that was a failure on my side. But I got into the end zone and that's a positive thing."

Free safety Ricardo Allen laughed and called it a 10 out of 10 on the fail chart.

“I didn't see the celebration, but the play was excellent," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "Vic has done a great job this year. He's come on, and played really well for us. I think his confidence continues to grow with each week, and it shows with the way he plays. He's making a lot of really big plays for us."

Beasley hopes he's just getting started.

"Going into the playoffs, you have to have a player who can take on that leadership role," he said. "We've got many guys who can get after the passer. We have Freeney. We have Grady [Jarrett]. We have a dominant defense, and we're just now coming into our own."