Lavonte David’s forced fumble and return late in fourth quarter of a 14-5 contest was the play of the game in the Bucs win over the Seahawks, head coach Dirk Koetter said Monday.
Some fans and media members saw the effort to jar the ball from tight end Jimmy Graham as David finally breaking through in Mike Smith’s defense and returning to form. But while Koetter acknowledged the outside doubts, the Bucs coach made clear that the coaching staff never agreed, nor had any dissatisfaction with the Pro Bowl linebacker at any point this season.
“You guys have been asking me about this every week, been asking ‘Smitty’ [Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith] about it – I’m not sure what the answer is,” Koetter said, asked about the perception of David having a down year. “Lavonte made the play of the day yesterday.”
Keeping with the explanation that Smith’s defense calls for other guys to make plays at times, Koetter again suggested that stats, like tackling numbers, could be misleading. The team-leader in tackles the past four years, David had just 50 entering Week 12.
“Different guys play a little bit different every week – we’re not complaining one bit about Lavonte David,” he said. “I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s all numbers- based, but I don’t really look at it that way. I just look at it, if the guy’s trying to play our defense, he’s one of our leaders, he’s one of our captains, so I think Lavonte is playing fine.”
Ironically, a particular number could support the claim. David is tied for the NFL-lead in forced fumbles with four and he’s recorded two over the last two games. As long as someone is finishing with a tackle, the Bucs would probably like to see the splash-play trend from David continue more than anything else.