In terms of tackles at least, Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David is having what appears to be his worst season ever. The team leader in that department each of his four years in the league, David currently ranks fourth on the Bucs in tackles and is on pace to finish the season 53 tackles shy of his career low, set during his 2012 rookie season.
There’s more that defenders are asked to do than just make tackles, though, and in several of those other areas, David is excelling.
For example, he has already matched a career-high with four forced fumbles, including forcing a key one that he also recovered during the Bucs 14-5 victory over the Seahawks last Sunday. And were it not for David, DB Alterraun Verner might not have gotten his pick of Russell Wilson that ended the Seahawks late first-half scoring threat.
As former Bucs tight end Anthony Becht points out in his latest film session segment on buccaneers.com, David played an integral role in setting up Verner’s first-quarter pick. By giving Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson a push toward Verner, David disrupted the timing of Wilson’s throw just enough to allow Verner to jump the route. Take a look here:
Join @Anthony_Becht as he breaks down 🔑 plays from the Bucs W over the Seahawks!
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) November 29, 2016
Plays like that are why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter seemingly took offense to a suggestion Monday that David has not been playing his best football this year. David has clearly struggled at times, missing some key tackles, but his 11 tackles for loss are just two shy of the league leaders and as you can see above, a lot of what he does well simply doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
Now, David did show up on the stat sheet with that earlier mentioned forced fumble on Seattle’s Jimmy Graham in the final minutes Sunday, which he scooped up and raced 53 yards to the other way. That’s why the Bucs are clearly quite pleased with David’s play.
“We’re not complaining one bit about Lavonte David, so I don’t know where (talk of him having a bad season) is coming from,’’ Koetter said. “It’s all numbers-based and I don’t really look at it that way. He’s one of our leaders. He’s one of our captains. I think Lavonte is playing fine.”