We know that former Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso did not request to be traded by his previous employers, but speculation still exists that Alonso - now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles after Tuesday's trade that sent LeSean McCoy to Buffalo in return for the second-year linebacker - had desired to leave Buffalo, anyway.
If a report from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport is to be believed, the feeling was mutual on Buffalo's end - and with new head coach Rex Ryan, specifically.
Interested to learn trading #Bills LB Kiko Alonso was one of the first things Rex Ryan wanted to do when hired. Perhaps not a scheme fit— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 5, 2015
If that seems a little out there to you, and you're struggling to wrap your mind around it, you're not alone. Let's review the facts:
- Alonso was drafted by Buffalo to play defense under Mike Pettine, who had just come to the team after working alongside Ryan, and in his system, for 11 years.
- In that scheme, Alonso had a Defensive Rookie of the Year caliber season in 2013, and quickly entered the conversation as one of the best young linebackers in football.
- Alonso excels in coverage, a skill that translates to any defensive system in today's NFL.
It seems impossible that a coach like Ryan, who knows good defenders when he sees them, would walk into a building that pumped out Top 10 defenses the last two seasons, watch film on Alonso, and immediately declare that he couldn't feature him in his ultra-flexible defensive system. That logic doesn't really fly, even if you buy into the overplayed argument that Alonso is not a great run defender (which he wasn't as a rookie).
Rather than not being a scheme fit, it seems more probable that if Ryan did, indeed, want to trade Alonso, it's because he saw an overabundance of talent at the linebacker position in Buffalo, knew that he had a good chance to add a run-defending linebacker in free agency if he thought he needed one (David Harris, who has played six seasons under Ryan in New York, is on the market), and recognized that Alonso offered more trade value than his now-former teammates, Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown.
Ryan is certainly bold enough to tell his GM that one of the team's most popular players should be traded, and overconfident enough to rely on the structure of his scheme to produce at the linebacker position without quality talent (which, by the way, he does still have). But Alonso not fitting Ryan's defense? Let's not stretch this logic any further than it needs to be.
If you believe that Ryan wanted Alonso traded almost from day one, what do you believe the motivating factor behind that decision might have been?