Key Buccaneers defender was M.I.A. Sunday

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)


It’s pretty hard to keep Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David off the stat sheet. In fact, until the Cardinals did it last Sunday, it had proved to be downright impossible.

When David failed to register a single tackle despite playing all defensive plays in the Bucs 40-7 loss, it marked the first time since he came into the league five years ago that David has failed to record a tackle.

His previous low was a two-tackle game he had as a rookie against the Vikings in 2012.Other than that David has never played an NFL game in which he didn’t record at least five tackles.

So what did the Cardinals do to keep David off the score sheet? A couple things: For one,they spent most of the day running the ball far to the outside away from the side of the field where David lined up.

They did the same in the passing game, throwing mostly outside or over the heads of the linebackers. Meanwhile, on the few occasions when the Cardinals did challenge David, they schemed him out of the play.

“They run a certain style of run play that is their main run play where they’re always double-teaming the down lineman back into his spot,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.

“We’ve run that play a lot, too. It’s become a very popular play in the NFL because of the angles (you get), so Lavonte really just didn’t have very many chances to make any plays in that game.’’

On the surface it sounds like this could pose a problem going forward. After all, if the scheme the Cardinals used is becoming popular around the league, won’t other teams use it to slow David as well?

It makes sense that they would and so it’s worth monitoring. But it’s also worth noting thatthe Falcons ran the same scheme against David and he made eight tackles in that game, including three for a loss.

Given those numbers, we’re going to chalk this one up as a rare bad game for the 2015 Pro Bowler and expect him to bounce back to his typical form Sunday against the Rams.

If he fails, though . . .

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