“The Badass Licht Pined For”

July 28th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters for more than a year. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out his columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Before he’s through tinkering at One Buc Place, Jason Licht may be responsible for drafting more than 100 players. I’ve got a feeling he has already signed off on the most rewarding pick he’ll ever make as an NFL executive.

Kwon Alexander wasn’t even supposed to start as a rookie in 2015. The undersized linebacker out of LSU was supposed to contribute on special teams and perhaps push Danny Lansanah a bit on the strong side.

Intensity sets Kwon apart

After all, the Bucs had just signed Bruce Carter away from Dallas to man the middle linebacker opening created by Mason Foster’s departure.

Two years and 28 starts later, Alexander walked into training camp Thursday as the undisputed face of Mike Smith’s defense. He strutted in from the parking lot with upraised arms and a smile that assures Buc fans he is ready to rumble.

Licht traded up in the fourth round to grab Alexander with the 124th overall choice. In an NFL scouting report heading into the 2015 draft, Alexander was compared as a prospect to Dekoda Watson, a former Buc linebacker who has started seven games in seven NFL seasons.

Are you kidding me?

“On Your Shoes”

Watson has bounced around with six organizations because he’s a darned good special teams player. Alexander is simply special, period, a Pro Bowl alternate who concedes nothing to Jameis Winston when it comes to passion for the game.

Yes, No. 58 even loves training camp.

“Everything about it,” he said after reporting for training camp yesterday. “That we get to start back, you know. Then it’s closer to when we get to play games and everything too, so we don’t have that long. So you’ve got to be ready and on your shoes. I am just ready. I’m just anxious to get back out there and hit somebody.”

Can’t you envision Dirk Koetter smiling when he heard that line?

Tampa Bay’s defense improved markedly after the bye week last season and Alexander led the league with 108 solo tackles. He added three sacks and a swagger that can’t be found in a book filled with NFL analytics.

If you’ve seen Alexander level Julio Jones 25 yards down the field or dash into Carolina’s backfield before Cam Newton can complete a handoff, you know Alexander is the 22-year-old straw that stirs the defensive drink around here.

“I think you have to have leaders in each room,” says Mike Smith. “Gerald McCoy does a great job. Because the players are going to get tired of hearing the same voice, we’ve got to have guys able to step up and step up at the appropriate time. Kwon’s done a very good job. He’s a very emotional player, he plays with a lot of passion and he runs extremely well. I think that’s probably his best trait — his ability to run.”

Alexander certainly has an impressive motor, but with all due respect to Smith, most NFL linebackers can run well. For me, it’s Alexander’s intensity and energy that sets him apart.

And unlike many pro athletes, Alexander speaks his mind. Don’t ask him a question if you want a stock answer. He regards cliches with the same disdain he treats ball carriers.

Stage Stealer

So here come those Hard Knocks cameras, seeking provocative sound bites. Mike Evans was just asked to pick a Buc player who will emerge as a focal point for the HBO sports series.

“Jameis,” he said. “My sleeper pick? Kwon Alexander. He’s fun to practice against and with. He’s going to bring a lot of energy, fun, and a lot of competiveness.”

In a critical late-season game at Dallas, Alexander registered 21 tackles and forced a fourth-quarter fumble. The Bucs came up short but a national TV audience witnessed a star in the making.

Although he’s on the fast track, Alexander has stumbled at times.

He still regrets the four-game suspension levied by the league at the end of his rookie season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The surging Bucs had just rallied past Atlanta to even their record at 6-6 when Alexander took his punishment. It was no mere coincidence Tampa Bay then went 0-4 down the stretch.

He had let his teammates down, and he knew it.

While Winston reigns as the most important draft pick Licht has made, Alexander looms as the most satisfying. He was the 14th linebacker chosen in 2015, behind luminaries like Lorenzo Mauldin, P.J. Dawson, Eli Harold and Stephone Anthony.

Alexander was also the first defensive player drafted by Licht — following an opening run of nine players on offense.

Now there’s another rookie linebacker from LSU making himself familiar with One Buc Place.

Alexander has made it a point to show Kendell Beckwith around town. Don’t be shocked if they are starting side-by-side before long.

“He’s like a big brother to me,” Beckwith says. “He always has been.”

Starting today, Alexander is big brother no longer. Starting today, he’s the badass Licht pined for on that fateful draft day.

22 Responses to ““The Badass Licht Pined For””

  1. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Ira, the sage of Tampa Bay, the pride of Brooklyn, you’ve done it again! I know you said you can’t technically be a stick carrier (journalistic integrity blah blah fine), but I’m going to bring you a big stick to wave around with us on the Fifth, and then we will all go out for a nice beet salad. Love ya kid!

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    Oh yea! Make Kwon your best friend there Kendell. Don’t sleep on Beckwith. The kid was a monster in college.

  3. DB55 Says:

    The Red Tide is coming ….

  4. JayBucBoi Says:

    He is Ira! I’m predicting 200 tackles this year!

  5. The Buc Realist Says:

    I disagree Ira, even though Kwon let his team down, The results would have been the same!!!!! between the “rookie wall” and in the last 4 games, the opponents had their starting QB’s and the fact that an average team could out-coach lovie was the reason it would have happened anyways!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Bucs Fan Since '76 Says:

    Damn, that was a really good article!

  7. Dewey Selmon Says:

    The Red Tide… I like that ! u better get that trademark,

  8. carry that mofostick Says:

    right on right on with the red tide my brother


    Always been a Bada$$!!

    Can’t wait for the LB’s to wreck havoc on the league!

  10. tmaxcon Says:

    finally a defensive leader. the void of leadership has been huge for nearly a decade.

    In a critical late-season game at Dallas, Alexander registered 21 tackles and forced a fourth-quarter fumble. The Bucs came up short but a national TV audience witnessed a star in the making.

    When was GMC’s signature game???? The Matt Ryan fierce Chihuahua ankle grab or was it the tipped pass…. sooooooo sooooo many to choose from over 7 years … what a game changer that one is… Well at least we can be thankful we finally have dedicated winners now. out with the old the new is going to shine.

  11. RayJameisStadium Says:

    Thank you Lovie!!!!

    We got Jameis and Known!!!

    And Thank You GLAZERS!!!!!

    A second trophy is coming to Tampa!!!

    Malcolm is proudly watching you.

    Go Bucs!!!

  12. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    Another vote for Red Tide. That’s catchy.

  13. Broy34 Says:

    Tmax sthu it’s training camp. Nobody wants to read your mentally challenged comments over and over. We get it u hate mccoy

  14. DB55 Says:

    I stole Red Tide from nos bos but I’m happy to take full credit for it. Hahaha

  15. tmaxcon Says:


    good thing I could give a ras arse about your opinions… until the cancer is removed from the team there will be no playoff victories. can’t win with mentally weak losers in key roles.

  16. DB55 Says:

    Yo T

    As impressive as that Dallas game was for Kwon, his signature game was rookie yr vs Falcons when his brother passed. Talk about taking over a game. What he did in the game was not human. No one runs down Julio Jones then mugs him for the ball. Plus he had like 2 INTs and like 18 tackles. Some ridiculous numbers.

    The Red Tide is coming…

  17. Dave Pear Says:

    I’m gonna have to give a thumbs down to “Red Tide.”
    Sounds like a chick on her period.

  18. DB55 Says:


    Lol, dave you dumb, lol. Jk.

    Red Tide as in the tide that kills everything in its path. It’s a whole lot scarier/dangerous than a gayass buccaneer.

  19. Dave Pear Says:

    Oh, you were going for scary.
    Then I change my vote to thumbs up.
    There are not too many things scarier than a chick on her period.

  20. Bucsfanman Says:

    LMAO! You guys are killing it Dave and DB55!

    DB- Great example! To me, that was when I think everyone knew he was going to be a star.

    tmax- We’re going to win with #93, whether you like it or not. Mark it down!

  21. DB55 Says:

    There are not too many things scarier than a chick on her period.
    True story! but GMC has exclusive right to the maxipad moniker.

  22. '74 Bucs fan Says:

    Kwon actually had 3 picks in that Atlanta game – but one was called back due to a penalty. Just sick.

    Thumbs up for Red Tide! Kills everything and smells horrible – love it!