Anyone who tuned in to the Bucs-Falcons game Sunday could see that Kwon Alexander was one of the best defensive players on the field. That was obvious by watching.
But coach Dirk Koetter on Monday detailed a closer look into the preparation and dedication that goes into Alexander’s craft.
“Last night on the plane, I walked to the back and (saw) players were laughing and messing around. Kwon was watching the game on his (Microsoft) Surface,” Koetter said. “I walked through the locker in pre-game – when some guys are stretching or seeing how cool they look in their uniform – Kwon was watching tape on his Surface. That’s preparation and he’s doing a good job of that.”
Heading into his second year, the former fourth-round pick wanted to take ownership of the defense, Koetter said. That meant meeting one-on-one with defensive coordinator Mike Smith throughout the offseason and picking the brains of Pro Bowl linebackers, Lavonte David and Daryl Smith.
Sunday’s game in Atlanta – a 17-tackle, one-sack performance that saw him everywhere on the field – showed that the extra film study and tutoring has paid off tremendously for the Bucs middle linebacker.
“I think guys who want to be great, they find ways as they go from rookies to becoming better pros,” Koetter said. “When you’re a pro, you find ways to get better.”
Speaking of pros who rapidly progressed from their rookie season and continued on an upward trajectory, Koetter didn’t forget to mention Gerald McCoy.
The Bucs defensive captain anchored the defensive line, as he’s done for the last three years, and made big plays at critical moments Sunday. Along with three tackles for loss and a third-down sack, McCoy deflected two would-be first down passes to Julio Jones in the fourth quarter. The four-time Pro Bowler made life easier on Alexander and the linebackers.
“While we’re on that subject, Kwon and Gerald: Wow,” Koetter said. “Two really big games. If I didn’t already give too many game balls out we’d give those guys another one.”