FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – When judging the production level of a defensive end, the number of sacks a player has is usually the first statistic people look at.
And while that's an important statistic and a goal for every pass rusher to get to the quarterback as much as possible, that's doesn't always paint the full picture of how valuable a player can be in a defense.
Take Vic Beasley for example. In 2016, Beasley lead the league in sacks with 15.5. In 2017, Beasley's sack total dipped to just five sacks.
At first glance if you're just measuring success based off statistics, it's easy to question why there was a decrease in his sack total. But that doesn't mean Beasley wasn't a productive player for the Falcons by any means.
Not only was he switched back to linebacker and assumed more duties in the run game, he suffered a hamstring injury early on.
Numbers can be deceiving at times.
So when asked what part of Beasley's game gets overlooked, defensive line coach Bryant Young noted how valuable Beasley is in the run game.
"I think people overlook how technical he is in the run game; he's a very strong individual and plays with good technique," Young said. "I think a lot of times he doesn't get credit for his run game, which is really important in this league as well. We put so much on the big pretty numbers, the sacks and I understand that, but it's also important to stop the run. And he does a good job of that."
The Falcons finished ninth against the run in 2017, a significant improvement from the 2016 where were the 16th ranked team defending the run. History shows that there's no reason to believe the unit won't continue to improve in this category this season.
According to Young, Beasley has come back to training camp in great shape and has "put himself in a position to go out there and compete and have a good year."
And that's the best case scenario for both Beasley and the Falcons' defense.