EJ Manuel is the Buffalo Bills rookie on the receiving end of the most praise after his first two pro games, but for our money, Kiko Alonso has been the Bills' best rookie thus far by a considerable margin. The only defender to play every snap so far this season, Alonso has recorded 19 tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumbled recovery in his first two pro starts.
Alonso will always be a key part of any Bills game plan defensively as the team's only three-down linebacker, but he played a special role in helping to contain Cam Newton and force him to make tough throws on the move in Sunday's 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers: Pettine dialed up a half-dozen delayed blitzes featuring Alonso, and the pressure calls almost universally succeeded.
To take a closer look at the types of pressures Pettine dialed up involving Alonso, flip through the gallery above - and hover your mouse on the pictures to display brief descriptions on what you're seeing. In short: Alonso blitzed from several different angles against Carolina, and on every play, Newton was either pressured into an early throw, hit, or sacked. When he was pressured, Newton either overthrew receivers down the field, left the pocket into the waiting arms of contain defenders, or threw erratic balls on the move.
Buffalo's Week 3 opponent, the New York Jets, are quarterbacked by another mobile player in rookie Geno Smith. Just as Bills fans should expect Rex Ryan and the Jets to bring more pressure on Manuel than he's seen in his first two NFL starts combined, we can expect the Bills to dial up the pressure early and often to try to force Smith to make more mistakes coming off a three-turnover night game. If what we saw the team do against Carolina is any indication, the Bills may once again utilize delayed blitzes to get easy pressure and force quick decisions from an opposing quarterback - and if they do, Alonso is the best player on the team at running them.