Eagles Wake-Up Call: Who Is Kiko Alonso?
During the 2013 season, Chip Kelly was asked about his former Oregon linebacker, Kiko Alonso.
“I take extra pride that I had an opportunity to coach Kiko,” Kelly said. “He’s awesome. I think everything that people are seeing in Buffalo is what I’ve known about him all along is that [he’s an] extremely dedicated, driven person both academically and athletically. He was a great student too. Over a 3.0 student.
“He made a couple missteps early in his career and really changed. I think he understood the opportunities that he has in front of him and everything that is happening to him now. I don’t know if it surprises other people, it doesn’t surprise me. Kiko is a special player. When you watch him on film, it’s Kiko see ball, Kiko tackle ball. We saw that at Oregon a lot. I think people in Buffalo are seeing that right now.”
On Tuesday, Kelly pulled a stunner when reports surfaced that he would trade LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for Alonso. There are a ton of different angles to explore with this deal, but for now, let’s take a look at what Alonso brings to the table.
At 6-3, 238, he brings size and agility to the inside linebacker spot, where Alonso will presumably team up with Mychal Kendricks. As a rookie, he had 159 tackles, third in the NFL behind only Vontaze Burfict and Paul Posluszny. Alonso also added a pair of sacks, four interceptions, eight passes defended and a forced fumble. He and Kendricks are both three-down players who can play the run, cover and rush the passer.
Alonso, a second-round pick out of Oregon, had his share of off-the-field issues in college. He was cited for DUI in 2010 and was arrested for felony burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespass in 2011. According to The Oregonian, the burglary charges were dropped, and Alonso plead guilty to criminal mischief. As a result, Kelly initially suspended him indefinitely, but reinstated him before the 2011 season.
He went on to have a couple standout years with the Ducks before the Bills took Alonso with the 46th overall pick.
Injuries have been an issue for Alonso. He missed all of 2010 at Oregon with an ACL injury and missed all of last season with the same injury on a different knee. If healthy, the Eagles are getting an ascending player with a high ceiling.
The move almost certainly signals the end for DeMeco Ryans in Philadelphia. In Alonso and Kendricks, the Eagles have a pair of young, athletic linebackers. Ryans turns 31 in July and is coming off a season-ending Achilles’ injury.
Much more to come on the trade as a whole and what it means going forward.
Note: Wake-Up Call was posted early because of the breaking news Tuesday evening.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Heat is really on Chip now.” T-Mac rounds up reaction to the trade.
The initial post with news of the trade. Note that no draft picks are expected to be involved.
Where the Eagles stand at OLB with the news that they’re releasing Trent Cole.
Where the Eagles stand at CB with the news of Cary Williams’ release.
Could Jake Locker be a fit? What they’re saying about the Eagles this week.
“The system will take care of it.” Todd Herremans’ words ended up being prophetic Tuesday.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Appearing on Tuesday’s edition of NFL Total Access, NFL Media’s LaDainian Tomlinson confirmed that McCoy’s relationship with Kelly had become strained over the past year.
“I’m not really surprised about it,” Tomlinson explained. “I had the chance to talk to LeSean McCoy a few weeks ago and he expressed to me that he didn’t think he was going back to Philly next season. … he just didn’t think Philly was committed to him and he actually thought that Chip kind of phased him out of the offense at times last year.”
In exchange for one of the NFL’s best playmakers, Kelly is reunited with the former Oregon star Alonso, who is returning from ACL surgery on the heels of an outstanding rookie season.
Doug Farrar of SI.com gives the Eagles an A-minus:
The only thing keeping this from a resounding A-plus is Alonso’s recent injury history. He’ll be a perfect fit in a defense whose linebackers were all over the place in 2014 (and not in a good way). He’s a special player when healthy.
If only there were something to talk about today…