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The Bucs have been without defensive captain and linebacker Lavonte David for three weeks now. And it shows. On Sunday against the Panthers, Tampa Bay struggled in run defense for the second straight game. A major reason was the play of linebacker Devin White, who struggled at times against Carolina. White made several excellent plays too, but consistency has become a major issue in the third year of his career.

“Mostly Lavonte,” Arians said on Bucs Total Access when asked who the Bucs have missed the most on defense. “His speed. And his calmness and his leadership. Kevin [Minter] played pretty good. Devin, I think, is trying to do too much in Lavonte’s absence.”

Arians didn’t go into detail, but you don’t have to watch tape for long to see what he means. In this week’s Bucs Briefing, I wrote about a big passing play the Panthers were able to hit because White failed to do his job. Instead, he tried to play hero ball and chase a sack. And in this week’s Pewter Report All-22 Film Room video on YouTube, I detailed another instance of White abandoning his gap in over-pursuit, leading to a big cutback run for Carolina.

Bucs ILB Devin White

Bucs ILB Devin White and Saints RB Alvin Kamara – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Just trying to make plays that aren’t there,” Arians said. “Just rushing the passer sometimes. Doing things that he doesn’t normally do. Overall, he can play better and we’ve seen him play better. And I know he will.”

White leads the defense with 128 tackles this season, while also chipping in 3.5 sacks. He’s also missed 21 tackles and only broken up three passes this season. In year two, some of White’s struggles would have been forgivable. Nearing the end of year three, the inconsistencies are starting to become a concern.

As for David, he’s second on the team with 97 tackles. His return against Philadelphia would be a big one, arguably more impactful than any other returning Buc.

“It’s going to be really close,” Arians said. “If he can go, I’m very confident that he’ll play well.”

You can listen to the awesome entirety of Bucs Total Access right here.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
7 days ago

That seems like a reasonable explanation from Arians, White trying to play hero ball. It’s certainly not from lack of effort or taking plays off. Of course he needs to correct that habit, regardless of whether David is back in the lineup this Sunday or not. Seems a little unusual, a linebacker playing too hard, taking on too much (quarterbacks are sometimes guilty of that). As long as he responds to coaching, this should be rather easily correctable.

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
7 days ago

This is where Arians, the wise old coach can be extremely effective. Let young people to do just one to two things to correct 70% or more of the problem. Not the do 10 things to improve to 100%.

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
7 days ago

Doing to much? Looks to me he isn’t doing enough. Rewatched the game. If White wasn’t out of position, he was being blocked out of the play. One time he lost where the back was and just froze. It was a big gain and when White finally saw him his pursuit was half speed. No hustle on that play. By now White should know what the offense is up to, not losing where the running back even is.

Dude
Dude(@dude)
7 days ago

The way Devin has been playing recently reminds me of Kwon, a lot of energy, missing tackles, getting stuck on blocks, and over pursuing, ending up out of place. Whatever Devin did to turn it around last year right before the playoffs, I hope he goes back and does it again. I got faith in you Devin! Go Bucs!

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
7 days ago

I think Lavonte is that sanity out there for White. It’s his running mate and I’m sure David guides him into the light occasionally, keeping him a little more focused. Because with David out, back up LB Minter played some of the worst ball that I’ve seen him play. In conjunction with White trying to be Superman and make all the plays. White is very talented. It’s his focus and attention to detail that needs to improve. I think he plays lights out in the playoffs with David beside him again. The two amigos! Running sideline to sideline! Got turn… Read more »

scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  bucballer
7 days ago

I suspect Devin White is trying to cover for Kevin Minter. I thought rookie K.J. Britt looked good in his limited play against the Panthers. I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of him.

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
Reply to  scubog
7 days ago

We’re making to many excuses for his play. The great ones like Ray Lewis elevate those around them. They don’t fall apart when they lose a team mate they bow up. In his 3rd year as MLB White should be running this defense with an iron fist, not losing where running backs are. Watch the Pants game again, I’ll say it, he’s loafing out there. I think he’s more into his horse farm than being the best MLB in the game. Missed sacks, not fighting off blocks, no interceptions on the year? Dude needs to step it up, regardless who… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  surferdudes
7 days ago

Not excuses, just speculation on reasons. Devin White is not, at least not yet, a “great one” like Ray Lewis, or Derrick Brooks, both Hall of Famers. But it is not too much to expect him to get better and at least grade in the upper 1/3 of linebackers in the league.

Horse
Horse(@horse)
7 days ago

White is trying to do too much because David isn’t out there. If you want to help White; play a Safety more instead of Minter at that spot. Speed will help against Eagles QB.

surferdudes
surferdudes(@surferdudes)
Reply to  Horse
6 days ago

Good idea, Minter is a liability out there. Just not fast enough. These last 3 games would’ve been good to see what Britt could do.

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