For example, veteran linebacker Kwon Alexander has done enough to earn first-team snaps ahead of Quincy Williams. You see, head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich run a lot of nickel and sub formations that drop the third LB in favor of an extra defensive back.
If they continue to do so in 2022, one NFL analyst believes that Alexander should get the lion’s share of the snaps next to C.J. Mosley.
Fans Join Analyst in Calls for More Kwon Alexander
The comments all stemmed from Alexander’s big game during the final preseason outing against the New York Giants on August 28. Within that performance, the exclamation point was a hit that “knocked [ball carrier] Antonio Williams into the sun” — per NFL reporter Mike Kaye.
Bleacher Report draft analyst Connor Rogers also chimed in on this play: “The full madden hit stick from Kwon…who really should be with the 1’s.”
Jets fans echoed his sentiment. One even noted that it was “only a matter of time.”
NYJ podcaster Matt O’Leary stated more plainly: “Kwon Alexander needs to start over Quincy Williams.”
A couple of weeks before, Williams made headlines for all the wrong reasons with a pulverizing late hit on quarterback Jalen Hurts after he stepped out of bounds. Coach Saleh was just as unhappy about the unnecessary roughness penalty as Philadelphia Eagles HC Nick Sirianni, calling it “egregiously awful” after the game.
Williams has also struggled with the same deficiencies as last year throughout the preseason — coverage and overcommitting on tackles. Pro Football Focus graded him at a 58.2 in coverage this summer, with a 63.7 as a run defender. Overall, he sported a 52.6 during the three outings combined.
Alexander was a little better at 62.4 (62.1 in coverage), but he also looked a lot more comfortable within the scheme. Keep in mind that the veteran spent time in this system out in San Francisco. That should expedite the process of him surpassing Williams in the snap count.
Alexander Was a Mentor With the 49ers
The Alexander addition could end up having a similar impact to Morgan Moses in 2021. When signed, no one expected Moses to start 16 games but after the Mekhi Becton injury, the veteran blocker was thrust into action.
It may not take an injury for that to happen with Alexander, but there are similarities beyond that.
When targeting free agents, Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas always talk about bringing in the right people, not just the right players. Alexander appears to be both.
On September 1, Akash Anavarathan of Niners Nation tweeted that “49ers’ LB Fred Warner mentioned in an interview with his wife that his favorite teammate of all time is Kwon Alexander.”
The reporter continued: “I know his contract was criticized and he was here for a short time, but Alexander really helped take Warner’s game to the next level.” Anavarathan included the hashtag, “HotBoyz,” which was the nickname for their linebacker crew in San Fran.
We’ve seen Mosley step up and mentor players like Jamien Sherwood or Hamsah Nasirildeen and now Alexander can help him in that regard. The Jets have added more experience in the linebacker room this summer, with Marcell Harris rejoining the roster after a brief cut and Alexander claiming a role.
Between Williams, Sherwood, Nasirildeen and rookie DQ Thomas, let’s hope one of these youngsters turns into a high-caliber replacement over the next couple of years. Apparently, the Jets just brought in the best teacher around.