The argument that Tampa Bay has one of, if not the best, linebacker duo in the NFL was made a lot stronger Sunday in Atlanta.
Kwon Alexander, starting his first game since Week 13 last year, racked up a game-leading 17 tackles, including two for a loss and a third-down sack. The second-year pro also saved a 17-yard screen from possibly going the distance and brought pressure to force an incompletion on third down in the red zone.
On a day where the Falcons backfield combined for 42 yards on 19 carries, Alexander was the driving force in the middle for Tampa Bay’s defense.
“Kwon was understandably emotional with the whole trip,” said coach Dirk Koetter, alluding to last year’s game in Atlanta which took place two days after Alexander’s brother died. “Before the game in the locker room (you could tell) this meant a lot to Kwon. Kwon is one of the emotional leaders of our defense and showed up big here today.”
Next to Alexander was his mentor, fifth-year pro Lavonte David. The weakside linebacker added eight tackles, three for a loss, and could be seen blowing up numerous pitches and swing routes throughout the game.
It was that kind of performance from the linebacker corps that made Atlanta’s offense one-dimensional and allowed Tampa Bay’s front- and back-ends settle in.
“They were huge, Lavonte, Kwon and Daryl, stopping the run today in the first half,” said Jude Adjei-Barimah, who added a pass breakup in the fourth quarter to force a field goal. “They weren’t allowing them to get the run going. I feel like that was huge for the game. That led us, as the defensive backs and the D-Line, to be able to tee off on the passing game and get after the quarterback pretty good.
“That’s the type of defense we want to be and those guys set the tone for us.”
Speaking at his locker after the game, Alexander said the defense was prepared for everything and played for each other in the critical moments. When everyone does their job, he said, the Bucs are going to “stop the run and stop the pass and get a victory.”
“We were ready for it all,” Alexander said. “That’s all preparation and practice. We worked on it so we were prepared for everything and we got the (fourth quarter) stop.
“It feels good. We got the first victory”
Now it’s looking for the second.
“Gotta move on to the next and get ready for Arizona next week,” Alexander said. “We’re going in there to try to get another victory.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I thought Daryl Smith was awful and couldn’t cover a turtle. The other two LB starters were very good. Go Bucs!
I sure didn’t notice #51 in this game either, but I think it had something to do with being in nickle.
I’d have to agree with SCu on this, I thought we ran so much nickle with Atlantas three and four wide sets, that he wasn’t on the field very much. He did look slow while on it though.
I gotta get an Alexander Jersey. I want to have one when this guy goes into the Hall of fame in 15 yrs.
He’s only played in 14 games! Let’s wait a few years before we hand him a gold jacket. I agree he’s been sensational so far as has David. D. Smith only played on first and second down, and I didn’t see any glaring weakness Horse. Let’s not put a new player in the HoF and throw a long-time veteran under the bus. If Smith doesn’t play well the coaches will get him out of there.
I can’t believe articles are still being written about our LB group being dominant. Article should read “David and Alexander dominate…as expected” end article!
Great to see the great Tampa D returning!
Ill put Lavonte and Kwon up against Luke and Thomas any day of the week
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