In back-to-back weeks, the Buccaneers have witnessed one of their rookies turn in a career-best performance on the road. Last Sunday in Washington, it was quarterback Jameis Winston. This past Sunday in Atlanta, it was first-year linebacker Kwon Alexander.
“That wasn’t just one of (his best games), that was his best game,” head coach Lovie Smith said Monday about the Bucs fourth-round selection from LSU… “He played an outstanding football game yesterday, and that’s the bottom line.”
The numbers support Smith’s assessment. Leading the team with 11 tackles, Alexander also stole a ball away from the Falcons best receiver in the first quarter and intercepted Matt Ryan a couple drives later, all while dealing with the tragic loss of his brother just two nights before.
“That takes an awful lot, to be able to stay focused throughout the game and just know that at this time, you were helping another part of your family do something that was important to them,” Smith said. “But it was a great game, one that he’ll never forget.”
Since training camp Alexander has been exceeding the Bucs expectations, earning the starting job at middle linebacker from Day 1 and continuing to improve in the role as the season’s gone on. Sunday wasn’t just his best game because there are so few to compare it to; it was his best game because it was a textbook performance by a Tampa 2 Mike linebacker.
“The interception was big, but to take the ball away… it’s one thing to make a tackle, but to cause a fumble, recover the fumble and then get positive yards,” Smith said, “How many rookies would even be thinking about that? And I should get away from the rookie part because that’s not a rookie play by any means there.”
Whether it was dropping into coverage against a tight end to intercept a pass, or making a play outside his realm of responsibility by chasing a receiver 35 yards down the field to take the ball away, Alexander showed on Sunday why the Bucs have full confidence in his rising ability – and character.
“What I’ve seen from Kwon, is that he’s handled the situation like I knew (he would),” Smith said. “There’s a reason why we’ve put him into this role – the type of man he is, what he believes in and how he plays.”
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: [email protected]
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