Recently, Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley went on WGR 550 and announced that the Bills were looking to move Kiko Alonso from the middle to an outside linebacker position. If this comes to fruition it could be a groundbreaking move for the Bills defense, as long as they find a suitable run stuffing middle linebacker to complement him.
Alonso was put in the middle of Buffalo’s hybrid 3-4 defense and led all rookies in tackles with 159. What made him so great were his instincts and ability to beat blockers to the hole with his speed. What made him suffer in run defense was that same speed and inability to shed blocks well enough.
Most times Alonso was able to make run stuffing tackles thanks to Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus creating havoc in the middle. However, when those two over ran plays it allowed the blockers to get on Alonso and create even more room for the running backs.
Beyond that, it was his over aggressiveness that took him out of stopping run plays. Alonso could out run the blocks and the running back to the lane, but would also be too shaded to that lane where a simple cut back by the running back would eliminate Alonso from making the tackle.
Alonso was a very good inside linebacker, but not a great one. He can however be a transcendent weak-side, or outside, linebacker in a 4-3 base alignment. He can also play what I would dub the “follow backer” in a 3-4; this means he’s the second middle linebacker in a 3-4 that is shaded to the formation’s weak-side.
What makes him great are the attributes listed above. In a 4-3 Will linebacker role, Alonso will be allowed to chase plays from the weak side and deal with less double teams. He can get into the backfield more and create even more mayhem than he does already. Alonso has to have better discipline in containing and setting the edge so that running backs are not able to bounce plays outside With his speed, Alonso should be able to run with the running backs from hand off to sideline and neutralize their effectiveness.
In a 3-4, Alonso will play the role of clean up artist. This means that the bigger inside linebacker will take on the blocks and control the line of scrimmage, which will allow Alonso to clean up and get to the running back.
The Bills recently signed Brandon Spikes to fill the vacated middle, so a run stuffing inside linebacker is in place. Spikes, a noted run defender, will be able to shed blocks and should act as a good complement to Alonso.
The pieces are in place to allow Alonso’s quickness and instincts to flourish. Spikes and Alonso will formulate a dynamic pair and further strengthen the team’s linebacker corps to a level that hasn’t been seen since London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes were roamed the line of scrimmage.