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Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The heat's on the Falcons' Beasley to bring the heat

The consensus on the Atlanta Falcons' drafting of Vic Beasley Jr. in April 2015: "He's the pass rusher they needed!" The consensus in September 2016: "It's too early to call him a bust."

Both of those things may well be true. He could still be the long-sought pass rusher. And it is too early to discount him altogether. But it was noteworthy that, in response to the great Associated Press writer Paul Newberry's question -- "Did you expect him to make more of an impact?" -- Falcons coach Dan Quinn paused and thought and finally offered: "We expect him to make an impact." (Which sounded like a "yes," did it not?)

Again: Seventeen games do not constitute a career. Beasley would indeed appear to be a talent, and talent tends to find its way. But it was a bit alarming that, after drafting him and proclaiming him a defensive end -- a hand-in-the-dirt guy, to invoke the argot -- he's now being deployed at linebacker. No more hand in the dirt. (Or on the turf, if he's playing indoors.)

The biggest knock on Beasley is that he's not overly big and can be manhandled by NFL tackles. He weighs 246 pounds. Then again, the Falcons have taken Brooks Reed, who arrived as a linebacker, and made him a defensive end. He weighs 250.

We recall that Beasley pronounced himself "a double-digit sack guy." He had four last season, four among the Falcons' worst-in-the-NFL total. No Falcon had a sack against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

One of the reasons the Falcons hired Quinn is that his Seattle defenses brought the big heat. It was assumed he'd figure a way to ramp up the pressure here, even without Seahawk-level talent. Hasn't happened. The Falcons' defense did improve last year over 2014, when it was the NFL's worst, but the sack total dropped from 22 to 19.

Rightly or wrongly, Beasley will forever be the biggest name linked to the DQ Plan. He was the first player drafted by the coach/czar. He hasn't produced much. Yes, there's still time. But, as is the case with all things Falcon now, the clock's ticking.

Super fascinating reading:

The Falcons' Quinn needs to demand better.

Football Outsiders: Falcons are more apt to draft No. 1 than to make the playoffs.

Falcons fun! The wacky ways of a Kyle Shanahan offense.

The Falcons open the season by laying an egg.

The more I see, the more I doubt the Falcons.

The Falcons' past (Koetter and Smitty) could enhance the Bucs' future.

You call it: Quinn/Shanahan/Ryan or Koetter/Smitty/Jameis?

Matt Ryan: Overrated? Underrated? Both?

So how's that Falcons Filter working? Not so well?

It's only Year 2, but Dan Quinn is on the clock.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.