FAB 2. David Primed For Big Year In Bowles’ Scheme

The departure of six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy means that linebacker Lavonte David, a seven-year veteran, is now the longest tenured defender in Tampa Bay.

To say that the Bucs defense is now David’s would be an understatement.

Yet the normally quiet David welcomes the fact that rookie inside linebacker Devin White will take over for Kwon Alexander as the defense’s vocal leader and signal caller. David likes to lead by example, and he’ll get the chance to return to that role after having to be the vocal leader last year for the better part of the 2018 season once Alexander tore his ACL in Week 6.

Bucs LB Lavonte David– Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs LB Lavonte David– Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I don’t think anybody expects more from me,” David said after the departure of McCoy and the potentially season-ending neck injury to veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul. “Everybody expects me to be the same guy that I’ve been, being the leader that I am – the quiet leader that I am. Everybody leans on me for a lot of things and we keep that between ourselves. Guys know what I’m capable of. They know what I bring. They also know the energy I can bring, the motivational factor I can bring. Certain things – sometimes, when guys like JPP go down, stuff like that, my role sometimes has to get a little bigger, but they don’t expect more out of me. They just expect me to be the same person that I’ve been, to be the same helper that I’ve been since I’ve been here.”

There is one area where more should be expected from David this season – on the stats sheet.

David has forced 10 fumbles in the past three years in Mike Smith’s defense, including a career-high five in 2017, and he’s also recovered nine fumbles with a career-best five during the ’17 campaign. But he’s generated just 8.5 of his 21.5 sacks and only had one of his 10 career interceptions during the past three seasons, while failing to record 120 or more tackles.

Bowles’ scheme is a linebacker-driven 3-4 defense where David will be an inside linebacker and will truly be featured, just like he was as a weakside linebacker in Greg Schiano’s defense during his first two years in the league from 2012-13. In 2013, David had his best season, recording 145 tackles, with career highs in sacks (seven) and interceptions (five), along with two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a safety.

Bucs DC Todd Bowles
Bucs DC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“So far from what I see, there is going to be a lot of pressure from the ‘backers – [and] from other guys also,” David said, “Bowles does a great job of mixing things up, making things look the same, but coming from different ways, different angles and stuff like that. It’s going to be a real nice mix up and I am excited for it. It’s all about execution at the end of the day. As long as everybody is doing what they are supposed to do, it’s going to be fun in the backfield.”

In Bowles’ scheme, David is capable of having another 140-plus tackle seasons, and generating five to seven sacks along with having a hand in creating perhaps as many as 10 takeaways.

“I feel it,” David said. “Every time we meet Coach Bowles always says he’s not looking for guys that sit there and let plays come to them. He’s looking for playmakers. That’s the type of player I am. Everything we do on defense is centered around guys making plays. It’s going to be fun.

“Of course I love blitzing – off the edge, in the A gap, wherever. That’s what we’re going to do. It’s going to be exciting and fun to see. I just have to go out there and execute.”

While being himself, David will be setting quite the example for White, who has already been taken under the veteran’s wing this offseason.

“Something about those LSU guys,” David said. “All of them bring a certain type of energy, certain type of swagger and we’re glad to have him here. He is happy to be here. He’s more than ready to step in and contribute right away. The first day, he was flying around and caught an interception on the second play of practice, so that’s a big positive sign. He’s happy to be here and the first day, he is talking. For a rookie to come in and be talking like that, it’s really amazing to see, so the sky is the limit for him most definitely.”

David is grateful that White has been so eager to learn from him and the two have formed a quick bond that should translate to some early success for the Bucs’ inside ‘backers in 2019.

Bucs LB Devin White
Bucs LB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“It means a lot,” David said. “Obviously, I am the longest tenured guy in the room. I have been here for the longest as. I feel honored, but it’s a whole new defense. I’m learning like I am a rookie again also. Me and him are basically coming in at the same time, we’re going to learn together and try to turn this thing around together.”

Bruce Arians was brought in as the head coach to replace Dirk Koetter and lead the Bucs’ turnaround. He’s grateful to have David on the team to help lead the charge.

“He’s got a resume and a really good one – almost Hall of Fame one,” Arians said. “He’s a very quiet leader. You like those kind of guys, because you just follow them. You don’t have to hear them, you just follow them.”

With David and the charismatic White, Bowles has plenty of leadership and playmaking ability in the middle of his defense.

“It’s important, because you really want a quarterback on every level of the defense,” Bowles said. “Up front, in the middle and in the back, and having one in the middle – not that Lavonte wasn’t, because he is, and he’s a heck of a player – so, we have two in the middle right now and that makes me comfortable.”

Bucs LB Lavonte David and former coach Greg Schiano – Photo by: Getty Images

After three years of playing read-and-react football in Smith’s defense, David should thrive in the return to a one-gap, attacking style of play under Bowles similar to that which he thrived in with Schiano.

“From what I see right now, there is not a lot of thinking,” David said. “Guys are just lining up and playing football – not a lot of pressure on a lot of guys. Putting guys in a position to make plays and use their skillset. We have a lot of great talent, a lot of great athletes out there, so once you get those guys going, getting them moving, things will be great.”

Expect a great year for Lavonte David.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

18 COMMENTS

  1. You only see it if viewing this website on a wide screen monitor, but it is probably time to take McCoy’s picture off of the top left!

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  2. I really love Lavonte. It’s a shame he’s been on so many bad defenses and hasn’t received the national recognition he deserves. He’s been my favorite player and arguably the Bucs best player since they drafted him. Hoping he can recapture some of that magic he had under Schiano’s scheme when he was playing out of his mind. Seems like he’ll get the chance under Bowles after years of toiling under Lovie and Mike Smith.

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  3. Scheme,coaching do matter. They must match specific talents of the players. Instead of changing player to fit scheme. Builds chemistry. Make week to week changes within your scheme & your depth to attack other teams weaknesses. Then you doing special things like the N.E. coach. It works on both sides of the ball too. You must as coaches know your opponents very well. This is what urks me about Glazers they do not demand cohesion.

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  4. Fab 4
    I think we are getting Arians mental heavy and Arians physical light.

    When Lovie Smith came I had hoped his time away from coaching meant that he would bring a better version of his previous performances as an NFL HC. I saw what he actually did as self aggrandizement and milking the situation to enhance his net worth. I don’t want to judge the individual so I hope I have merely exaggerated the true situation in my mind. Not that it matters to anyone else. (Just to show you what is in the back of my mind.)

    Here also I was envisioning a better but not a dramatically different version of Arians. The delegation part is new and introduces uncertainty for our preseason assessments. Obviously, the differences are the new part of the improvements in his mind at least.

    At this time I am still in “In BA we must trust” mode.
    __________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  5. Well, of course it’s Arians-light. The guy was retired….for health reasons….related to the stress of being an NFL Head Coach. He has said since Day 1 that he sees Leftwich and Bowles in charge. He has been talking those two up like they’re the next coming of Bill Parcells, and has said he’s done that in part because of the personal relationships he has with them, dating back many years. He wants one of those guys to get his shot (or in Bowles case, another shot) to be a Head Coach.

    My hope was that he was going to use 2019 to ease one of them ahead, and then take over Jason Licht’s job next year, sending him out to pasture. Sadly, his relationship there seems like that won’t be the plan.

    But to answer your question Scott – no the Glazers didn’t hire Arians…they hired one of Bowles or Leftwich to be Head Coach, and hired Arians to run their interview process for a year.

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  6. After seeing Koetter focus only on the offensive side of the ball, and leave his defense totally in the inept hands of M. Smith, I’m glad B.A. isn’t locked in a room with Winston wearing blinders to what’s going on with the rest of the team. I don’t see the GOAT Belichick calling plays on defense, or offense. He has an eye for coaches, and let’s them do their thing. Of course he’s making calls on both sides of the ball, and I’m sure Arains will too. This is not a problem Scott, don’t make it one. Good to see Arians cut Wilson, showing no patients for his inability to stay healthy. To much in the past we’ve hung on to guys who spend more time in the tub then with the club. So we’ve had more players miss time do to injury then most teams. I hope the new training hires help, but I think some of the problem was our guys weren’t mentally tough enough to play through some minor injuries.

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    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
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  7. OMG! Can we PLEASE stop talking about GMC. He plays for the hated Panthers! Forget him already!!

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  8. Best part of this article is how it points out how low McCoy’s takeaway total is. Hahahahaha!!!

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  9. I love all of this, but the strength and conditioning coaches get me the most excited. Wow, what a concept, having different positions doing different drills. These types of things can only help this team. It seemed like every game a starter was going out. Love the insight for this time of year guys! Keep up the good work

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  10. Injuries and misdiagnosing drafted players and free agents have plagued this franchise for over a decade. About time the team moves forward with sports science and embracing such analytics.

    Lavonte David has been quietly grinding and he is putting up a resume that will probably go the distance. I am proud of him and even when people doubted him I was in his corner. The guy plays with so much heart and it shows.

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  11. Abnormal high injuries last few years have cost this team as many wins as anything really. It’s been nuts. I always wondered if it was bad luck, bad conditioning coaches, or both.

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  12. So Arizona didn’t have a quarterback coach?

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  13. SR on vacay?? Where does a FL boy go on vacation? As Sapp said to Meshawn, “We got it all right here man.” Enjoy yourself sir, have a safe and wonderful time. As to BA light, I agree his successor is very likely already coaching on this team. Certainly Winston’s success is the team’s best case scenario. But I honestly believe that BA’s #1 job is to change the culture on the entire team. He has to get these guys to play a whole game. All 3 phases for all 4 quarters. To not play up to the competition but to play up to each other. Even in the 10 wins we’ve watched over the last 2 years, I don’t think we have seen that.

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  14. Derrick Brooks played from 95-08 or for 14 seasons.
    Lavonte David has played for 7 seasons so far.

    I really hope I get to watch Lavonte for 7 more seasons in pewter and red. He’s been my favorite Buc for 7 years.

    He may go down as the most unsung superstar in team history. With all the stats in the world to make the case that he was consisitently one of the best linebackers in the entire league, he was snubbed year after year for the meaningless pro bowl. When comparing his first 3/5/7 years in the league to Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, he compares favorably in every category except playoffs and wins.

    I can’t wait to see the dependable ‘Husker in this new defense.

    Some Lavonte Highlights:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C8SBKJHwSg

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  15. Great article once again Scott! You will be missed while you are on vacation, but enjoy your time away. David has been my favorite player on defense also and I know he will shine as an ILB and will be in plenty of Pro Bowls before he retires. BA has already turned around this culture! I love all his innovations he has brought to do so. His keeping the rookies here to learn will pay off this year and I expect four of them or more to be starters and play like veterans based on all the superior development BA has brought. His strength program will also make all his players stronger and less likely to be injured and putting heat monitors on players in practice is genius given his practices in high temperatures this year.

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  16. I don’t think BA needs to bring in another RB unless it turns out Jones can’t cut it this year. I am glad to hear that BA likes Anderson too. I think he will bring a lot of flexibility. If he uses Ogunbowale to return kicks he needs to keep five RBs. Ogunbowale also could be the best sub backing up Barber in case he goes down. Anderson could be a good third down back, Jones a good change of pace back who can go all the way, and Ellington is great for attacking the perimeter and comfortable as a pass receiver too. We can use them all.

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  17. Ariana wasn’t just brought her to mentor Winston, if that was the case, he would’ve been the oc, not the hc. For far too long I’ve made myself excited and emotionally invested in players/coaches that I knew deep down weren’t the answer. We’ve had plenty of teases along the way. Hell raheem Morris still have us the best season we’ve had this far this decade. We’ve been through a lot as buc fans. But I do believe in arians. The drafting of Devin white out any of my doubt to rest. We will be healthier and not burnt out simply because of our new indoor practice facility. Our guys will get more reps because because we’re having multiple groups going with first stringers with first stringers, second stringers with second. So on and so forth. Arians while being looked at to help Winston put it all together, is changing the way we do things around here for the better. Scott do you honestly think Asians isn’t doing anything to help Winston? Do you really think Winston hasn’t had Asians in his ear? Just because Arians isn’t physically showing you what your were looking for doesn’t mean he’s not getting through to Winston in other ways. I’m pretty sure Asians is helping out leftwich where he sees he needs help, but let’s not forget that leftwich was an NFL qb for years and was a pretty damn good backup in Pittsburgh. Bowels I’m not worried about at all and he might be the one that replaces Arians once he decides he’s done done. I know we’ve been burned, believe me, WE ALL KNOW THAT lol. But this isn’t the same thing. Players are being held accountable, the tough but correct roster moves are being made, and our draft picks from Devin white to sc try Miller are turning heads, making plays, and showing leadership. Enjoy your vacation and don’t worry about getting arians “light”. BA is here and will be getting us more wins than losses. He’s in control, trust me.

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  18. Sorry for all the typos /errors. Please do your best to read through it!

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