It’s no secret that Bucs linebacker Devin White had a very up-and-down season this year. After being tabbed as one of the top off-ball linebackers in the league in an ESPN poll of executives, White came crashing down to earth in 2021.
He still finished with a team high 128 total tackles, but missed plenty more and was often out of position. His sack numbers also took a huge hit, dropping from 9 in 2020 to just 3.5 this year. White attributes part of his struggles to being overly aggressive and having a lack of discipline.
“I think the biggest thing for me is to be more disciplined,” White said. “When I evaluate myself, I think it’s a great thing but it’s a hurtful thing. I’m overly aggressive because I have the speed to make up for plays. And I’ve got the IQ to make other plays. I think they don’t go hand-in-hand sometimes. Sometimes, I can do a little too much.”
It’s a very mature answer from White, who at times this season wasn’t accountable in front of the camera. Acknowledging weaknesses, especially after a stellar season the year before, is another step in his trajectory. White has already identified a few ways he will try to improve his play in the coming season.
Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“I think the number one thing is a lot of film study,” White said. “A lot of zoning in on what I have to do and just being a little more patient. You look at it one year, it works. The things that I was doing, it works. Then you look at it another year and it works, but then it doesn’t work. And then it works, but then it doesn’t work. So I think it’s just being a little more disciplined.”
After an offseason filled with adulation from peers and NFL minds, being able to realize shortcomings and formulate a plan for improvement shows growth from the Bucs third-year pro. White still feels he has more to prove and will try to integrate more discipline into his game. But he’ll want to do it without sacrificing what he feels sets him apart from others at his position.
“As far as football, I think God gave me all the tools I need to be a great player,” White said. “All I have to do is keep sharpening those tools. But to be an even greater football player, I’ve got to be more disciplined. I know I’ve got to be more disciplined and that’s something that I’ll continue to work on. I’m not going to let that affect my up-tempo style of playing, but I’ll do it the right way. I’ll do a lot more film study and make sure I know when to trigger, when to do this, when to take my shot in the run game. To do a lot of different things.”
If White can play his style of football with more discipline, there’s no telling how good he can be for the Bucs.