Can’t Blame Bucs

March 12th, 2019

Unanswered questions.

Joe understands there are a number of Bucs fans who are upset that middle linebacker Kwon Alexander was not retained.

The way Joe looked at it, the Bucs simply had too many unanswered questions to drop eight-figures on Alexander the way former Bucs great John Lynch did with the 49ers yesterday.

There are two issues:

The first is Alexander’s health. Yes, he had major knee surgery in November. Now Joe understands that people are pointing to Alexander’s social media videos as proof to a successful rehab, but what exactly do those videos prove? That he can work out at a gym like hundreds of thousands (millions?) of fellow Americans? Joe isn’t sure that NFL teams are trolling neighborhood gyms and fitness centers looking for linebackers.

All those videos tell Joe is that Alexander had successful surgery for a normal person. Is he able to chase down ballcarriers or blitz quarterbacks or shed blocks? Right now that’s a leap of faith. An expensive one at that.

Also, there is just something that gnaws at Joe about Alexander. Joe has been clear in his praise for Alexander’s intangibles (they are through the roof) and his leadership in the locker room (remember when he went after Swaggy Baker?). Alexander may be the perfect teammate. Joe is quite serious in typing that.

However, as former Bucs coach Dirk Koetter used to say, the NFL is a production league. And Alexander was a critical member of a defense that, for much of his time in the league, was largely garbage.

During Alexander’s rookie season, his first coach and de facto defensive coordinator Lovie Smith got run because his defense was so bad. Anyone remember the Capitol Collapse? Then Mike Smith comes in and aside from a five-game streak (fluke?) late in the season, the defense was rotten.

A year later, Smith’s defense, with Alexander calling plays, plummeted to worst in the NFL. In 2018, the Bucs defense, still with Alexander at middle linebacker calling the plays, was on pace as the absolute worst defense humans have ever witnessed.

Not until Alexander suffered his knee injury and was lost for the season did the defense improve. Was this a coincidence? Maybe, but Joe’s not a big believer in coincidences.

At the combine in Indianapolis, Joe was talking with a former general manager and mentioned to him that, “You shouldn’t be saying a defense improved when a starting middle linebacker was lost for the season.” The former general manager looked at Joe, shook his head and replied, “No, you shouldn’t.”

(Joe is asking honestly, when is the last time Alexander turned around a game defensively like we’ve seen others do including Lavonte David? The last time Joe remembers such a game was opening day of 2017, and Alexander’s rookie season when he was a one-man force in an overtime win over the Dixie Chicks in Atlanta.)

Joe has absolutely nothing against Alexander and frankly wishes he would have returned. But combined with the rancid defensive results and his uncertain health, there were just too many questions for the Bucs to be comfortable dropping a truckload of Team Glazer loot in Alexander’s lap.

(And who would know more about his rehab than the Bucs?)

The Bucs liked to boast that Alexander was the heart and soul of the Bucs defense. Given how disgusting this defense has been for most of the past four years, is losing the heart and soul of an embarrassing defense really a bad thing?

56 Responses to “Can’t Blame Bucs”

  1. Mike Says:

    Interesting stat

  2. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    That’s a pretty crazy stat, Kwon came in 2015 too. I didn’t realize he missed that much more than the other LBs. Kwon’s best attribute couldn’t be seen on the stat sheet though and I think that’s what drew Lynch to him.
    I’ll miss his energy and interview cliches but I probably wouldn’t have paid more than half of what he got. I’m happy for him and his family, they are set if they are smart. Good luck Kwon, except when you play the Bucs.

  3. Nick da ruler Says:

    Now that we’re really short on linebackers, Devon white is a must. This is a huge draft for Licht, Arians, and bowls. Bowles will have a big input. He’s in line to take over in 3 years. Can’t miss in the first 4 rounds.

  4. Pickgrin Says:

    Kwon is a very good football player – also a great team leader and locker room presence.

    But OVER THIRTEEN MILLION per year????????

    I literally thought Alexander’s market value would top out at about half that coming off a serious knee injury just 5 months ago and having missed multiple games in three out of his four seasons.

    John Lynch has lost his MIND to pay that much to an undersized, out of position MLBer who still has some “issues” with his play that need cleaning up…. (namely – bad angles, getting swallowed up by blockers – and apparently missed tackles).

    Devin White is now the obvious pick for the Bucs at #5. And the Buccaneers will be a much better team as a result!

  5. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    You could say the same thing about mancrush Bennett. Did he not have a serious shoulder issue when the Dom did not resign him?

  6. teacherman777 Says:

    Adarius Taylor looked good.

    Cichy was a wasted pick. He has another knee injury. He’s done.

    Riley Bullough sucked when he started.

    Kevin Minter looked like an LSU athlete. Worth keeping.

    Beckwith, before the injury, was WAY BETTER at MLB than Kwon.

    If Beckwith is healthy, then he will be a great starter, at a cheap rate.

  7. Todd Says:

    Give it a year and the SF media will be tweeting about Kon Alexander vs. Kwon.

    But a rich Kon.

    No sweat, all. We’ll be just fine. We have professionals running our organization now.

  8. Bird Says:

    He was average to good sometimes. Good kid. No question a team leader. But missed 12-14 games over last 2 years. Had suspension for taking a banned substance.

    Now he is making 13.5 per year , making him the highest paid inside linebacker of all time.

    Are you kidding me ?
    Sorry. There should not be one upset buc fan over this

  9. Bird Says:

    And with all the missed tackles , he had 6 INTs over 4 years. That not saying a whole lot when a few were batted balls that dropped in his lap
    Who knows, maybe he proves us wrong

    But I agree. John Lynch must be smoking the good stuff over in Cali now. The Yoda OG good stuff.

    Wow. Him and agent were looking for 10-12 mil per were the reports from numerous source and the 49ers gave him 13.5 mil. Great negotiation skills ?

  10. Bradentonbuc Says:

    Why this Kwon narrative about the defense got better? Feel free to form your own but of all the (mostly accurate) narratives this one just sticks in my craw, Joe. Kwon went down literally half a game into Duffner being coach. Where is the coincidence?? Duffner takes over, we got better as a unit. Just don’t understand why you keep coming back to that. You really think the problems went past Mike Smith?
    Que the McCoy haters

  11. Lubby Smith Says:

    Many Bucs fans have Stockholm Syndrome.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Still don’t think that John Lynch signed Kwon to be a MLB (they already have a pretty decent rookie at that position). I think Kwon just became the 49ers’ Lavonte David. Also think he’ll do much better there than he did at MLB. Bucs played yet another player out of position.

  13. Pete I Says:

    CJ Mosley seems to have topped Kwon by a bit with the Jets… “deal is worth $85 million with $51 million in guaranteed money. That’s bigger than the four-year, $54 million deal that Kwon Alexander agreed to with the 49ers and would set a new standard for inside linebackers.”

  14. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Agree with Bradentonbuc the Bucs got better on defense because Dufner came in in and worked with the coaches and players and put them in a better position to play more competitive football. One mistake Smitty made IMO, was all the extra
    time he spent Kwan. When LVD said how Dufner communicated so much with him more than any other coach, I thought that was a missed opportunity on
    Mike Smith’s part.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Pickgrin … Welcome aboard the ‘Devin White at #5’ train. We desperately need a MLB with talent like his. Just went through 10 updated mock drafts for kicks and not one had White coming to us (even though he was available when we picked). As a ‘consolation prize’ though we did get Taylor (2), Allen, Gary (2), Sweat (2), Williams (2), Jacobs so at least we didn’t come away empty-handed.

    I feel better now. None of those draft gurus ever get it right in the Bucs case.

  16. THETRUTH Says:

    KWON is a baller , Joe you have certain players you try to tear down for 1) to make predictions and hope your right 2) your not a hem and therefore they are not all that.

    That being said it would be hard for me to want pay him that much coming off injury and not a superstar.

    Bucs fans complaining that he is gone would be the same ones that would complain if we sign him and he gets hurt. (bandwagon Bay club) Just fans who always find bad.

  17. Bob in Valrico Says:

    There was also more communication on the sideline when Smittty left. That was probably the one of the biggest factors in the defenses improvement. Have to admit that Mike Johnson’s point of Smitty being in the pressbox during games
    was not productive.

  18. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Agree DR, we never had a Luke Kuekli type player at middle linebacker and we need one in the worst way. Draft Devin White !

  19. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Overlooked Hardy Nickerson ,my bad sorry Hardy.

  20. JA Says:

    49er fans aren’t exactly doing backflips over the Kwon signing. Read some of the posts. Some approve but many wanted Mosley, who I was informed is off to the Jets.
    Seems GM Lynch is being touted as, to paraphrase: “Mr. Overpayment” or “The Cap Space Killer.”

  21. SCBucsFan Says:

    Expensive FAs are good for teams that need a boost to become a great team. They are useless on a struggling team. Save the money, take the picks and write next season off as lost. It’s lost anyway, just be realistic and don’t make it worse.

  22. Not there yet Says:

    How can you be so blatantly dense for someone who is an insider to tak about Kwon and the defense being the nfl’s worst under Lovie and mike Smith being and didn’t improve until the dude got hurt but mysteriously leave out the fact that Mike Smith was also fired. I’m actually beginning to think it’s not willful ignorance on your part and a reason why you are the only one in the media saying something so damn stupid. Stupid to even suggest the garbage linebackers trotted out after Kwon are even decent special teams players let alone starting linebackers. Just as stupid a statement as saying Winston is America’s Quarterback yet another statement this website is alone in saying

  23. Nwbucfan Says:

    Agree with you Joe. Would have loved to keep him but gotta stop getting attached to players on such an awful team. (I still miss Adrian Clayborn haha) but gotta say, kwon ripping the ball outta Julio’s hands in Atlanta was one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen.

  24. Nwbucfan Says:

    I have a feeling he will do well in San Francisco

  25. Bird Says:

    Wow. Just read and saw Cj mosely

    Jets did have 100 mil in cap space so they gotta spend on someone
    We had 3 mil in cap space

    5-11 for 2 years

  26. OneBuc55 Says:

    Kwon wasn’t perfect but he always played hard and as a fan I really appreciate his efforts…

    Now let get Devin White in here…

  27. Figures Says:

    This team will suck again.

  28. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I suspect Licht won’t reveal that Beckwith is finished in order to hide the fact that we are desperate for Linebackers……Beckwith may be more of a loss than Kwon.

    We were never going to resign Kwon or Hump…..we weren’t going to get Fowers, Bell, Ford, Mosley, Mattheu….or any high-priced FA….it simply wan’t and isn’t going to happen.
    If we could find a mid-priced decent RG….I would be happy with FA. Perhaps a CB.
    If Devin White is available after a slight trade-down…..fine….if not…..Bush would work. But, we need to draft a LB in the first 2 rounds.

  29. Not there yet Says:

    Like thinks he’s a guru at finding late round picks so he makes dumb decisions at the top of the draft and probably won’t draft Devon white because he thinks he can find some hidden gem. No faith in a guy who has a 5-11 team with no cap space that he will draft the right mix of players to balance out the team and those players actually pan out. Fail to find an impact player in the first two rounds with no cap room and he’s done so I can’t wait for the draft.

  30. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    With the NFL getting more and more towards a league where contact is frowned upon the more tweeners LB/S players are probably going to be in demand. I think kwon was more suited for the Will linebacker position but he WAS able to run before the injury, not sure it was a great investment by lynch to grab kwon coming off an injury BUT the niners were against the wall to replace their LB who was fired here in tampa and now on the redskins

  31. Nano Says:

    He’s not worth 13 million
    Misses tackles all the time
    Not close to David or Brooks
    Lynch missed on this one watch he will loose a step
    I wish him the best
    Draft the kid from LSU
    Beckwith David we good

  32. The Coroner Says:

    When Alexander was drafted I remember looking at his tape. He was very fast getting there, but didn’t seem to know to do once he got there – and he missed tackles.

  33. AwShbucs Says:

    When we lost Kwon in 2015 the defense didn’t get better. Really don’t get how its not plain as day that the defense got better in 2018 not because Kwon got injured, but because Mike Smith got fired.

    Look don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t have signed him to anything over 7 million a season let alone 13.5 million. I’m just not seated at all by the argument your vaguely trying to make that Keon being the middle linebacker makes him as culpable as Mike Smith as to why the defense stunk.

  34. AwShbucs Says:

    Not swayed* stupid auto correct.

  35. Tackleblockwin Says:

    I’m going to miss Kwon, but not his missed tackles. Was there any other starting linebacker in the NFL over the last few years that missed more tackles than Kwon?

  36. KANG Says:

    The Buc’s have gone from a 5 win a year TEAM to a 3 win a year team under Jason Licht’s watch. It’s nice to see all of our steel molded players walk away with big contracts and we don’t have two nickles to rub together to retain them because we have over paid for fat lazy OL’s that take more plays off than they actually play. What a great message to send the fans! We fired Dirk wehn we should have fired both Dirk and Licht! Thanks Licht – I’am not looking forward to another loosing season in the NFC South! GLAZERS FIRE THAT DUMB ARSE!

  37. Defense Rules Says:

    TBBF … If Bucs don’t draft White to be our MLB, then Bush isn’t who I’d use our Rnd 1 pick on. Tend to like somewhat bigger MLBs who can cover, tackle, blitz & get off blocks … White fits that mold to a T. Bush is very close albeit undersized (have seen him listed at 5’10” & 225 lbs). I wouldn’t use a 1st Rnd pick for him in a draft this deep with DTs & DEs, but I doubt that he’d be there when we pick in the 2nd Rnd. Mack Wilson (Bama … 6’2″ & 236 lbs) intrigues me more (I watch every Bama game … he’s solid inside although not as spectacular as Devin White IMO).

    I’m with you totally on picking up a mid-priced Guard in FA, as well as veteran CB who can start outside opposite Davis. And we can free up the money to do that IMO, just as long as we go for value not bling.

  38. PSLBob Says:

    Joe, this whole Kwon and the Defense argument is getting stale, and I’m not sure I buy into your logic (like you probably give a damn). The question is, did Kwon contribute to the badness of the defense or did the badness of the defense contribute to Kwon’s sometimes poor play. Everyone agrees that Mike Smith’s defense sucked. If his defensive schemes put Kwon in difficult positions to make plays, that’s on Smith not Kwon. Granted, there were times when Kwon was in position to make plays and whiffed, but I think more often than not, he was just put into a terrible defensive scheme that handicapped him. Regardless, I still don’t think he’s worth the money the 49ers are giving him, and certainly the Bucs couldn’t afford him. However, I’m not so sure he won’t be a very productive player on a well-coached defense. I guess we’ll have to wait until next season to see whose instincts are correct.

  39. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I call bull.

    In a year, both Kwon and Humphries will be in the pro bowl, and all of you will be hating on Licht because of it. Joe will whine about letting them get away for the next decade, just like with Revis and Bennett.

  40. Siege the Bay Says:

    I cant believe how much yall are hating on Kwon Alexander. Bucs fans are ungrateful. He’s the ONLY one on the defense that had any testicular fortitude before JPP got here. I would not be surprised if he becomes a star in SF.

  41. ATrain Says:

    Does SF need at DT??

  42. Justafan Says:

    What’s the difference between Kwon and Mark Barron, is Kwon a lot bigger?

  43. TOM Says:

    More upset about losing Hump. Could care less about Kwon.

  44. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Wow! Just Wow! Again do we think Patriot fans are beotching about losing Trent Brown? NAH!

    I loathe Belichek, Brady, and the Patriots! But they have my ultimate respect! They absolutely have scoreboard. They are the best even if they’re the most hated. Kind of like the old Yankees. Keep winning at their pace and you draw hatred.

    But shouldn’t we learn from them? They do it with draft picks, some from comp picks after they let the high priced talent walk.
    They NEVER overpay, even if a guy has been a star on their team. They shop the bargain basement for their FA’s frequently taking chances on guys others would not. They cut bait quickly when someone doesn’t fit their scheme or locker room…see Talib and Blount.

    And so a final thought. Let’s look at Trent Brown. Just signed a mega deal with the Raiders. What did the Pats pay to get him?
    A freaking 5th round draft pick to the Niners who got him with a 7th round pick 244th overall in the draft!!!!

    Stop gripping at letting our overpriced stars walk. I loved both Kwon and Hump but they were nowhere near close to what they signed for.

    Bonzai….we’ll have to agree to disagree about their pro bowl appearances. Time will tell. Neither has yet made it straight up if I’m not mistaken. Didn’t Kwon make it his ONE year as an alternate?

  45. D-Rome Says:

    In a year, both Kwon and Humphries will be in the pro bowl, and all of you will be hating on Licht because of it. Joe will whine about letting them get away for the next decade, just like with Revis and Bennett.

    Just an FYI: This is one of your absurd predictions that is going to be wrong just like your prediction that the Bucs “will” sign Kwon and Humphries or that the Bucs were going 11-5 last year.

    Kwon Alexander was the starting MLB under TWO different head coaches and the team defense has been terrible for years. Humphries is not going to do anything special in Nashville. The Titans are in trouble if he ends up being more than a #3 WR, and #3 wide outs don’t make it to the pro bowl.

  46. Yuccaneers Says:

    Isnt kwon 1 failed test away from a 1yr suspension?

  47. Joe Says:

    Humphries is not going to do anything special in Nashville. The Titans are in trouble if he ends up being more than a #3 WR, and #3 wide outs don’t make it to the pro bowl.

    Seem to think Humphries will do well in Tennessee (don’t know about a Pro Bowl though). The Titans don’t have a big-time threat to stretch the field (not that Mariota is a downfield thrower anyway). Tennessee seems to run more of a possession/game-managing type of offense and Humphries is a possession receiver (who can occasionally get downfield).

    Given the type of quarterback Mariota is, seem to think Humphries will do just fine there.

  48. 813bucboi Says:

    stop bashing kwon….lol….the man got paid and deserved it…..just because kwon called the plays for smitty’s trash defense doesnt make him trash…..he made the pro bowl in 2017 while we went 5-11…..dont think he was trash then even tho smittys defense was…..

    cj mosley called plays for one of the best defenses in the league and the ravens let him walk…..does that make cj mosley good because he played with a good DC or trash because they let him walk…..

    kevin minter played his best ball under todd….im sure he’ll be productive at MLB….or draft a LB in the 4th or 5th round just like we did with kwon and beckwith…..


  49. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!

    Kwon and Hump were solid, but NOT difference makers nor irreplaceable…We’ll manage without them.

    Not vastly overpaying anyone during the first wave of free agency is NOT the end of life as we know it!

    We actually have a legit, PROFESSIONAL coaching staff now…Have some faith

  50. DieHardBucsFan Says:

    Embarrassing writing here by Joe. The insinuation that the Bucs horrid defense was Kwon’s fault is a complete joke. GMC was on all of those awful defenses, does that make GMC a bad player? Absolutely not. This will be remembered much like when the Bucs let Michael Bennett walk and then wondered why we’ve had no pass rush for years. Something tells me that Joe was snubbed personally by Kwon in some way, because unless Joe is blind, he would’ve seen how Kwon was the only impact player the Bucs could count on in their Defense.

  51. gman Says:

    The Bucs make no shortage of bad decisions….not giving Kwon $13 million a year is not one of them

  52. Joe Says:

    The insinuation that the Bucs horrid defense was Kwon’s fault is a complete joke.

    The “insinuation” — if that’s what you want to call it — is that Joe puts value into a middle linebacker position where the player also happens to call the defensive sets. Not exactly trivial.

    It very well could be the Bucs defense has been so horrible around him that it dragged Kwon down (hard to believe Lavonte David is an albatross for a MLB). But Joe’s not going to give a middle linebacker who called the plays for a horrible defense for four years a complete pass.

  53. Bob in Valrico Says:

    A number of people called Bull when you proclaimed that LVD would be replaced by Kwon . I wish him well but he was miscast as a middle linebacker,IMO.

  54. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Bob in Valrico Says:
    March 12th, 2019 at 1:14 pm
    “A number of people called Bull when you proclaimed that LVD would be replaced by Kwon”

    Check yourself. I never said kwon would replace David. I said Beckwith would.

  55. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Outside of resigning Smith and trading Jackson, what positives have been added since Arians was hired?

    I understand losing Kwon…but Humphries? The slot IS a starting position these days. $9,000,000 is not too much.

  56. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Pardon me Bonzai, but that idea was equally bad. Beckwith’s build is closer to
    the protypical middle linebacker and Beckwiths potential did not match LVD”s