THE CASE FOR LAVONTE DAVID MAKING THE PRO BOWLThe Buccaneers were thrilled at the selection of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and cornerback Darrelle Revis to the 2014 Pro Bowl, but disappointed that linebacker Lavonte David didn’t make it. Here is what McCoy, a two-time Pro Bowler, tweeted on Friday night after learning that David did not get selected to represent the Bucs in Hawaii.
“If I could give up my pro bowl nomination and give it to @NewEra_54 (Lavonte David) I would right now!! Complete SNUB!! Unfair. He deserves it!!!”
Coming off season-ending ACL surgery in 2012, Revis was excited to make the fifth Pro Bowl of his career, and his first as a Buccaneer. But he also felt for David, who got snubbed.
“I’m excited to be able to share the experience with Gerald and I’m holding out hope that Lavonte will be able to join us because he’s very deserving as well.”
All six Pro Bowl outside linebackers are pass rushers from 3-4 schemes with each putting up at least 10 sacks. David plays in a 4-3 scheme, which requires him to make more tackles than sacks, but as his statistics bear out, the Buccaneer has done quite well in the sack department, in addition to making many splash plays.
Here is a look at David’s tremendous statistics from the 2013 campaign.
Tampa Bay OLB Lavonte David137 tackles, 10 passes defensed, six sacks, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one safety
Analysis: No other NFL outside linebacker had the combination of tackles and splash plays as David did in 2013. David became the first linebacker in NFL history to have six sacks and five interceptions in the same season, and that statistic alone should have garnered him Pro Bowl status for the first time. With five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, only one other linebacker – Mathis – had a hand in contributing eight turnovers this year. When adding up his sacks, turnovers, pass breakups and his safety, no other linebacker has produced 25 splash plays this year – or even come close.
2014 PRO BOWL OUTSIDE LINEBACKERSWhile David got snubbed, here’s a look at the six outside linebackers that will be going to the Pro Bowl and what type of statistics they put up. In PewterReport.com’s estimation, only one linebacker could be considered as deserving as Tampa Bay’s David.
Indianapolis OLB Robert Mathis53 tackles, 17.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, one safety, one pass defensedAnalysis: Any pass rusher with 17.5 sacks – not to mention eight forced fumbles deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. Out of all of the outside linebackers that made the Pro Bowl, Mathis is the most deserving based on his incredible statistics and the high amount of impact plays he made this season for the Colts. It’s hard to make an argument that David is more deserving of a Pro Bowl bid than Mathis.
Kansas City OLB Tamba Hali46 tackles, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, one interception return for a TDAnalysis: From a big-play standpoint, Hali made a ton of them for Kansas City’s improved defense. Not only did Hali get to the quarterback 11 times, he also created five turnovers (four fumbles, one interception), including a pick-six. It would be hard for Hali not to make the Pro Bowl with the career year he’s had, and he’s just as deserving as David is to go to Hawaii.
Arizona OLB John Abraham35 tackles, 11.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three passes defensed, one safetyAnalysis: Abraham is an underrated pass rusher who was discarded by the Falcons. The former defensive end found success as a 3-4 outside linebacker with 11.5 sacks in addition to four forced fumbles and a safety. The trouble with putting him in the Pro Bowl over David is the fact that he only has 35 tackles, which is an average of only 2.3 per game. David has 102 more tackles than Abraham, just as many splash plays and is more deserving of a Pro Bowl bid.
Kansas City OLB Justin Houston44 tackles, 11 sacks, one forced fumble, one pass defensedAnalysis: While Houston has the same number of sacks that Hali has, which is impressive considering he has missed four games due to injury, he hasn’t created as many turnovers as his fellow Chiefs linebacker. While Houston is one of the NFL’s better pass rushers, he’s had a rather one-dimensional season and is not nearly as deserving of his Pro Bowl selection as David is because of the lack of turnovers he’s created.
San Francisco OLB Ahmad Brooks57 tackles, 8.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, one interception, one forced fumbleAnalysis: What helped Brooks make the Pro Bowl over David is the fact that he plays next to Pro Bowler Patrick Willis and is on a nationally-renowned playoff team in San Francisco. But the fact that David has 80 more tackles than Brooks, four more interceptions, three more passes defensed, one more forced fumble and one more safety makes him way more deserving of a Pro Bowl bid than Brooks.
Baltimore OLB Terrell Suggs79 tackles, 10 sacks Analysis: Suggs has had a good season, but made the Pro Bowl based on his reputation rather than the number of big plays he’s produced in 2013. While his 79 tackles is far more than any other Pro Bowl outside linebacker this year, the fact that he has only produced 10 sacks without a single turnover or even a pass breakup makes his trip to Hawaii over David undeserved.
Without question the lack of wins, television exposure and notoriety in the national media hurt David’s chances at a Pro Bowl bid this year. There is still a chance that David could be selected as a Pro Bowl alternate if one of the six linebackers gets injured or misses the trip to Hawaii due to his team participating in the Super Bowl. And if David somehow is not in Hawaii when the Pro Bowl kicks off, there are some serious issues that need to be examined by the NFL.
While some say Pro Bowls ultimately do no matter, as they are basically popularity contests, ask any NFL Hall of Fame voter if that is the case.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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