Kwon Alexander has matured as a player and is playing smarter. The fiery MLB came under fire last year by Pro Football Focus which graded him out poorly despite the fact he had a seemingly successful rookie season and was oozing with talent. Last year Kwon was fast and explosive as usual, but he didn’t seem to process the game as well. He took a lot of bad angles and relied a lot on his physical speed to make plays. This season, you can see the mental aspect of his game catching up with his physical skills and the difference is like night and day. On this play from Week 1, Kwon is playing in a middle zone and respects the threat of run on playaction. But he quickly realizes it’s a pass and stays in his zone. He reads the TE leaking into the flat and immediately ends the play once the pass is complete resulting in a tackle for loss.
This is something I hope we get to see more of this season. The Bucs are in their ‘Nascar’ package which is used to rush the QB on 3rd downs. The lineup of Howard Jones, Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers, and Noah Spence (along with Lavonte David seen blizting here in this play) is a nightmare for a QB. Matt Ryan makes a hot read and a throw, but the Bucs pressure still gets there and shows the frightening potentialof this lineup. Robert Ayers Jr. at DT is an especially devastating matchup for interior lineman. He shows here he can use his quickness as to get into the backfield.
Staying on the defensive side, Gerald McCoy was playing really great football before his injury. Hopefully he will be good to go this week because he is a major difference maker. On this play, the Broncos are actually running at McCoy and he is facing a double-team. The Pro Bowler splits the G & C with a swim move and takes up the FB forcing the RB to cut back where Kwon Alexander is waiting for a tackle for loss.
The Bucs have really struggled up front so far. Their pass blocking has been a big issue and Jameis Winston has taken a lot of hits through five games. This was most evident against Denver when the Broncos continuously used stunts to get into the backfield and inflict pain on our Pro Bowl QB. Here you can see Von Miller come in from the left and run diretly into RG Ali Marpet. RT Demar Dotson goes to help and then DE Derek Wolfe comes around the open edge and meets up with Miller again at the QB as they get a sack. A key to the Bucs offense is to not be predictable. When Doug Martin went out the Bucs running game struggled. They were forced into obvious passing downs often and left the offensive line exposed while the defense typically got to pin their ears back and rush the QB. Bucs HC Dirk Koetter made some brilliant adjustments against Carolina focusing on ball control and time of possession leaving his offense in more third and manageables which turned into a better third down percentage and kept the defense off the field more.
When the Buccaneers become less predictable and are selective with their big plays, they are open at a much greater cliff. Here Winston freezes the LBs with a playaction and the CB bites leading to a touchdown from WR Mike Evans on a terrific double move. This was the perfect playcall as the Safety on Evans’ side of the field was blitzing. Luckily, the Bucs had Alan Cross in the backfield. He takes blitzing S Kurt Coleman out of the play with a block that turned him upside down. This play helped Winston have the time to get off this scoring pass and is one of the reasons the Bucs are now 2-0 in the NFC South.