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Falcons, Vic Beasley still struggling to rush the passer

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Dan Quinn's defense was greater than the sum of its parts in 2015. After the Atlanta Falcons added speed at linebacker and safety, the unit is poised improve in Quinn's second season.

It appears, however, that getting pressure on the quarterback will continue to be a struggle for Atlanta.

The Falcons compiled a league-worst 19 sacks last season -- that's just 1.5 sacks more than J.J. Watt earned by himself.

Through three preseason games in 2016, the pass rush remains a debilitating problem. In Thursday night's preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Falcons earned zero sacks -- a sad sum in what is supposed to be a "dress rehearsal" game -- and barely pressured the quarterback.

The lack of pressure allowed Miami to go 7 for 14 on third down, including 5 for 9 on third downs in the first half, when the starters played.

"As far as the third down goes, finishing at 50 percent, not good enough for what we're trying to become," Quinn said, via ESPN.com.

Foremost on the concern list is 2015 first-round pick Vic Beasley.

The team's most talented pass rusher had just four sacks last season and hasn't had a quarterback takedown in two preseason appearances. On Thursday night, Beasley got stonewalled time after time, failing to even record a QB hit in 29 snaps.

"I don't know man, I've just got to keep working," Beasley said. "I'm not able to get home like I want to. I've got to keep a positive mindset and keep working."

Beasley struggles to turn speed into power off the edge and gets eaten alive by blockers. He's taken pointers from newly signed veteran Dwight Freeney, but even those lessons have come up short. Beasley tried to use Freeney's patented spin move at one point Thursday. It was summarily shut down.

"Nah, it ain't working right now," Beasley said. "I have to go to the film room, go to the practice film, and try to critique something. It is (frustrating) at times. I just know I have to keep working."

Last year's No. 8 overall pick has been dealing with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss last week's game. Thursday night it appeared he was favoring the shoulder and the injury seems to be affecting his play. Still, Beasley wouldn't use it as a crutch.

"I know what's expected of me, but it's not a sense of pressure," Beasley said. "It's just what's expected of me. I just have to keep attacking each day."

An up-tempo pace exacerbates the Falcons' pass rush problems, which were exposed by Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins. Expect teams to take advantage early in the season with a fast pace out of the gate.

If Atlanta can't find a way to disrupt the quarterback, it could be a long year for the back end of the defense.

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