Falcons insist move to LB won't hurt Vic Beasley

The initial reaction to hearing that the Atlanta Falcons will move Vic Beasley to strongside (SAM) linebacker is one of surprise that Dan Quinn's team would drop its best pass rusher into coverage any more times than necessary.

Falcons assistant coaches insist Beasley's priority will still be taking down quarterbacks.

"The emphasis with Vic will still be pass rush," linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich said, via ESPN.com.

"The emphasis will still be his nickel end stuff, will still be playing SAM as a blitzer. The majority of his meeting time will be devoted to that. The majority of his individual work pre-practice will be devoted to that. The majority of his practice reps will be devoted to that. And on Sundays, the majority of his reps will be devoted to that.

"The SAM stuff, it's just another way to get one of our best athletes on the grass. It's not going to be anything that's going to take away from anything."

Getting Beasley off the line of scrimmage in obvious running situations should help after he struggled to get off blocks as a rookie.

Moving Beasley to SAM seems like Quinn echoing the job Bruce Irvin did for him during his dominant days in Seattle. However, Irvin famously criticized the Seahawks for not letting him pass rush enough from that spot.

Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith has a different comparison: Von Miller -- Smith coached linebacker's for Miller's first four years with the Broncos.

"Any time we pressured with base last season, we always brought the SAM," Smith. "So, that's part of the package. We can run from an over front and bring him off the open-side edge. We can get in an under front and bring him off the tight end side.

"Really, it's the same situation that we did with Von Miller when we were (in Denver). Beasley is probably better going forward than he is going backward. But also what it does, when you're in the under front, they might turn the protection, then he comes on a blitz and he's caught one on one against a back. We like that matchup."

Despite adding veterans Derrick Shelby, Courtney Upshaw and Brooks Reed on defense, the Falcons' pass rush remains a big question mark entering 2016. Beasley will rush the passer often, because outside of the former No. 8 overall pick, Atlanta doesn't own many options for getting after the quarterback.

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