The New York Jets are getting everything they could have hoped for out of Kwon Alexander
Kwon Alexander joined the New York Jets late in the 2022 offseason, agreeing to terms with the team on July 28. Once the former Pro Bowl linebacker finally did find a new home, he was signed to a surprisingly modest deal. New York signed him to a one-year pact worth $1,272,500.
Alexander is vastly outperforming that deal.
The 28-year-old Alexander has been a spark plug for the New York defense, providing jolts of energy with his penchant for big hits and his rangy athleticism. Each week, it feels like Alexander comes through with an invigorating play when the team needs it.
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind Alexander’s hot start.
Alexander, who ran the forty-yard dash in 4.55 seconds back at the 2015 combine (89th percentile among LB), has always been known for his speed. His athletic ability is a prime reason why he seemed like such a good fit for a New York defense that loves fast linebackers.
We are already seeing the benefits of this seamless scheme fit. The Jets’ defensive system is allowing Alexander’s athleticism to shine on a routine basis.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Alexander has recorded six “hustle stops”, which are defined as defensive stops in which the defender traveled at least 20 yards from snap to tackle. That total ties him for third-best in the NFL among linebackers.
Alexander has covered an average distance of 19.3 yards on his tackles, which ranks fourth-best at the linebacker position.
Watch Alexander show off his range on this play as he starts the play in-between the hashes and ends up tackling Nick Chubb along the sideline.
Alexander is doing a great job of finishing plays at the tackle point. He has only been credited with one missed tackle, giving him a missed tackle rate of 5.6%. That ranks 12th-best out of 59 qualified linebackers (min. 150 defensive snaps).
That rate is on pace to be a career-best for Alexander. Typically, he has struggled with missed tackles. His career rate is 18.1%. It seems Alexander is doing a much better job of controlling his speed this season than he has in past years. We’ll see if he can maintain this level of efficiency.
Alexander makes an impressive open-field stop on Steelers WR Dionate Johnson to prevent an 8-yard gain from becoming any worse. It’s also another display of his range.
Linebackers often cannot prevent passes in their vicinity from being completed, but what they can do is minimize the yardage of those completions. That can be accomplished through sound open-field tackling after the catch.
Alexander has been solid at limiting YAC. He is currently charged with allowing 5.4 YAC per reception (43 YAC on 8 catches), which places him 25th-best out of 59 qualified linebackers (58th percentile).
Alexander makes a picture-perfect click-and-close tackle in the flat to limit this completion to a gain of two yards.
Thanks to his good tackling underneath, Alexander has stayed away from a big mistake in coverage so far. The longest reception he has allowed went for a gain of 18 yards. There are 64 linebackers in the league who have allowed a longer reception than that.
Alexander is one of the main cogs behind the Jets’ improvement at containing running backs in the passing game. Last year, the Jets allowed 53.4 receiving yards per game to running backs, ranking second-worst. This season, that number is down to 27.5, placing 12th-best.
Is Kwon Alexander playing his way into a bigger role?
Over the Jets’ first three games, Alexander served as the Jets’ third linebacker behind C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams. Mosley and Williams were on the field together for the majority of plays while Alexander would join them when New York employed its base 4-3 package. Alexander’s average snap percentage from Weeks 1-3 was 50%.
After Williams went down with an injury, Alexander took his place next to Mosley in Week 4, playing a season-high 92% of the snaps.
With how well Alexander is playing, it will be interesting to see if the Jets decide to keep him in the starting role even once Williams returns.
Regardless of what the Jets decide, they have to be thrilled with what they are getting from Alexander for such a low price.