Not too long ago we ran my all-22 analysis of Buffalo Bills free-agent safety-turned-linebacker Maurice Alexander. I’m not one to shy away from what I said and to be blunt I called out Alexander for his tackling and gave examples of where poor form led to issues with execution.
Due to time constraints and the recognition that injuries and time can come knocking quickly, I’ve established that I strongly prefer the most recent available season. In Alexander’s case, this was 2017. While I stand behind my method it’s certainly not foolproof. Alexander caught up with us on Twitter to point out he had significant injuries that would have hampered his 2017 season. With Alexander pointing toward 2016 as a better year, let’s take a second look to see if I had it wrong.
Since Maurice Alexander’s tweet focused on my tackling assessment, that’s where we’ll be spending our time. Frankly said, this isn’t a tackle I’m confident 2017 Alexander makes. The tendency to lead more with the arm/bicep makes it much harder to make the wrap. The initial boom of the shoulder is stronger than the 2017 tackles and the arms snap and wrap. One tackle isn’t definitive, but so far that whole injury thing appears to have been a valid point.
This tackle seems more confident than the 2017 tape. Another really good wrap and we’re starting to see a trend.
Just like Play 1, that shoulder impact is better than 2017 and the arms circle around and are tenacious. The slide is pointed out but not as a negative. The angle of attack makes the slide likely, but Alexander’s arm doesn’t slide away like I pointed out before.
The GIF calls it. This is a world of difference from 2017. Impact, wrap, done. The heels/ankles of the ball carrier are together when he lands. This is another tackle I don’t think 2017 Alexander would have pulled off.
This isn’t quite the same style of tackle but the wrap and run through the opponent is something you wouldn’t expect to see with a significant shoulder injury. It’s safe to say that at this point I’m in agreement the injuries were a factor in 2017.
One more for the road, this is just flat out not something I saw in 2017. The clip says “nearly rugby style” to point out that the angle is a little more head on and the arms don’t wrap up (check out this Seattle training vid if you can). To be fair to Alexander, he’s shown those things above, but the angle of attack here doesn’t work well for some of those techniques.
I make a habit of checking for injuries that would hamper play but this time I missed it. My apologies to Maurice Alexander as it’s always the goal to give everyone a fair shake. The tackling form between the two years is demonstrably different and using just the 2017 film undersold his ability. Aside from tackling, the healthy Alexander looked less tentative overall (with good reason) and was all around a better player. There are still questions surrounding Alexander and how he’ll fit into the Buffalo Bills’ plans, but if he returns to 2016 form it’s a far nicer outlook than I originally presented.