Bucs LB Lavonte David - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
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.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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As usual, it’s some of the fans who don’t get it, and measure a player only by how many so-called “splash plays” he’s had lately. A lot of the work for many of the leaders in a team’s position groups is barely visible most of the time.
As a point of comparison, the all time greatest Buccaneer linebacker – and many would say the all time greatest Buccaneer, period – was Derrick Brooks. Known for his hard hitting, his tackles, his INTs, and his overall intelligent play throughout a long career that got him into the Hall of Fame on his first vote.
Yet, in the all time greatest Buccaneers season ever – our Super Bowl winning 2002 team – Derrick was down on his stats that year. DB managed to record “only” 87 tackles for the season (vs. 125 tackles two seasons before, when he’d averaged 117 tackles a season over a four year period), and just 1 sack. The only splash stat that year above his career average was INTs (5).
Would anybody believe for one millisecond that Derrick Brooks had a down year on our Super Bowl winning team? The same guy who got a Pick Six in the world’s biggest game?
Naw … not for a millisecond.
btw – over his entire 14-season career, Hall of Famer DB averaged just under 100 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1.8 INTs, and 0.3 FR per season.
To date over about 4 2/3 seasons, LVD is averaging just under 94 tackles, 2.9 sacks, 1.8 INTs, and 1 FR a season. Not bad. Oh, and LVD – just like DB – does and did a lot of things on the field that don’t show up on a stat sheet. His coaches know that, of course.
And keep in mind that DB had the same defense coached by the same DC (Monty Kiffin) throughout all but one season of his career. Whereas LVD is on his third defensive system and DC (maybe even his fourth DC given that Lovie Smith took over running the defense on game days last year), so he’s had to put up with some major changes in direction in his career to date.
Not saying LVD = DB … but you have to put the stats in their proper perspective when evaluating a whole player.
Correction (my math error) – DB averaged 92.6 tackles/season over 14 seasons, slightly less than LVD to date.
Naplesfan, thanks for researching this for everyone. LVD is good, period. And he is locked up for 5 years. Greg Shiano was pretty good at recognizing good defensive players, not much else, but thanks anyways Greg.
I saw DB at a lightning game a couple of years ago and he said ” Lavonte is as good as I ever was”.
Of course DB is a class guy and would say that. Is he as good as DB? No, but who is.
I’m glad he is on our team.
Newsflash. Chris Conte out Sunday. Bucs have re-signed S Major Wright to 53 roster.
David’s production was at the top of the tackles list until Alexander came along. He has definitely been less of a factor. Hopefully it is just a matter of him adjusting to the system.
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