The NFL regular season is just three days away. The 17-week period commences and fans finally get a real look at how their teams will respond. Fans will also get the usual perspective from the media and the take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year isn’t a positive one. The oddsmakers put the Bucs between five to seven wins. Still, it’s all just noise… for now.
The Return Of “Li-Ti-Rilla”
As Tampa Bay prepares for their first game of the season, a storyline both teams know can’t be avoided will be a main talking point come gameday. Since the schedule release in April, it’s been known that the Buccaneers would face the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium for Week 1 of the regular season and that means the return of former Buccaneer Kwon Alexander.
The 25-year-old middle linebacker spent his first four years in Tampa Bay after being a fourth-round pick. In the offseason, Alexander became a casualty of a new coaching regime. He was unable to reach his ceiling during his stint. For his career as a Buc, he totaled 380 combined tackles, seven sacks, and six interceptions, as well as a Pro Bowl nod in 2017. But stats alone don’t tell the whole story.
Out With Kwon, In With White
Those days are now in the past and Alexander has embraced his role as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. He would soon learn his first game as a 49er would be against the team who drafted him. The same team that would later use a fifth-overall pick for his replacement. Ouch.
But the move was warranted. Seventy-eight missed tackles in four years is indicative of a bad trait in a player. Tampa Bay chose wisely to cut ties before a long-term contract got involved. However, Alexander’s loss and Devin White’s gain was a simple transaction of addition by subtraction. Read that one again.
Who Will Take The Week 1 Spotlight?
Now, if honesty is the best policy then honesty would say that both White and Alexander played poorly in the preseason. They combined for six tackles in the preseason. But both players are capable of turning it on in any game. Week 1 will be one defensive game to watch.
Players look forward to having a crack at their former team. Alexander will presumably be out “hunting heads” in an attempt to prove to his 49er teammates and a home crowd at Raymond James Stadium that he was the better man. Assume he will bring the same heart folks witnessed from that stoic game in Atlanta.
White is in need of a solid outing and that’s to be expected. He has been somewhat restrained in his play as Todd Bowles looks to hold off on leaking the defensive playbook. Preseason is in the past and now it’s the regular season. With a full playbook at his arsenal September 8th, White will look to prove he was what Tampa Bay needed from the linebacker position. And as the fifth-overall pick, that will be expected to come sooner rather than later.