You may have heard something about the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles making a trade earlier this week. In case you missed it somehow, LeSean McCoy is headed up to New York while Kiko Alonso is headed down to Philly. BGN's Mark Saltveit did a great job of profiling Alonso on Wednesday.
1) To what extent do you like this trade for the Bills? Do most Buffalo fans approve of this deal?
It makes a ton of sense for the 2015 iteration of the Buffalo Bills - on paper, at least. Even if you buy into the idea that McCoy is slipping, he's still one of the best runners in the league, and that was a huge need area for the Bills going into the offseason. Linebacker was not; Alonso was their best player there, but they have two more three-down players on the roster already, and they can add a third run defender in free agency and be perfectly fine. When a team doesn't have a solution at quarterback, I'm fine with focusing on the short term.
2) What are Kiko Alonso's biggest strengths and weaknesses on the field?
Alonso is fantastic in coverage. He's one of the quickest and most instinctive players at his position when it comes to getting himself into coverage lanes, and that skill is obviously in high demand right now. He is not the most physical player, however; he looks more like a defensive back than a traditional linebacker, and he therefore was something of a liability against the run, especially as he began to wear down in his rookie season. Alonso is more of a gap-shooter than a guy that can regularly stack and shed, and that limits him a bit, but he has a nose for the football and makes big plays.
3) Why was Alonso such a fan favorite in Buffalo?
In the first four games of his NFL career, Alonso accumulated 32 tackles, four interceptions, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a sack, and five defended passes. It was a pretty incredible run, and those four games are largely responsible for his reputation in the league. Fans started using a #TheLegendOfKikoAlonso hashtag on Twitter, which was basically just a bunch of Chuck Norris jokes with Alonso's name subbed in, and it snowballed from there.
4) How concerning is Alonso's injury history? Do you have any idea of how he's progressed in his recovery?
Alonso was on the Bills' flagship radio show, The John Murphy Show, on February 26. He said then that he expects to be 100 percent healthy by the time training camp starts, and that obviously won't have changed after the trade. He was injured early last summer during a training session, which afforded him some extra rehab time, and he was running (sans cutting) in December. He should be fine for 2015, but yeah, any time you're talking about a player with multiple knee injuries that isn't 25 years old yet, it's cause for concern.
5) To what extent are you excited about LeSean McCoy and/or concerned about his longevity?
Well, he's LeSean McCoy! At his best, and when he's fresh, he's incredible. It's also not hard to envision the Bills being cognizant of how many carries he's already taken in his career, and working to mitigate that circumstance as best they can. They can still use veteran Fred Jackson on passing downs. Anthony Dixon, a physical backup-type, has experience in Greg Roman's rushing offense. And the team still has Bryce Brown on the roster, and the opportunity to draft a runner somewhere if necessary. The Bills are going to run the ball a lot, but that doesn't mean they're going to give it to McCoy every time. They are already deep enough to spell him as often as they want. I am not super concerned about McCoy making it through the final three years of his deal playing at a pretty high level.