Bucs’ David Snubbed Out of Pro Bowl Despite Monster Year

lavonte-david-daniel-thomas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be represented at the Pro Bowl again this year — defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was elected for the second consecutive year while cornerback Darrelle Revis received his fifth Pro Bowl honor – but they’ll be without arguably the team’s best player on defense in Lavonte David.

Despite finishing fifth in fan voting, which counts as one-third of the final vote, and having some tout him as a possible candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, the second-year pro was not named to the Pro Bowl.

“I don’t like that at all, man,” said McCoy after he learned David wouldn’t be joining him in Honolulu. “I told him and I don’t mind saying this publicly, or whatever, but if I could give back my opportunity to give it to him, I would. That’s my little brother and he’s more than deserving.”

Through 15 games this season, David recorded a team-leading 137 combined tackles (fifth among linebackers in the league) with 101 of them solo (also fifth). He also leads the Bucs with five interceptions (second in the league) and has ten pass breakups (sixth).

“I don’t think it’s fair and I just think he kinda got snubbed,” McCoy added. “No ‘kindas’ about it, he got snubbed. I’m not trying to take away from the excitement of me and Revis going because it’s definitely an honor, but I would give up my vote, I would give up my opportunity and give it to him any day.”

Revis said he’s optimistic that David will get in due to injury or players participating in the Super Bowl. “I’m still holding out hope that Lavonte will be able to join us because he’s very deserving as well.

A closer look

John Abraham (Arizona), Ahmad Brooks (San Francisco), Tamba Hali (Kansas City), Justin Houston (Kansas City), Robert Mathis (Indianapolis) and Terrell Suggs (Baltimore) were the outside linebackers who were selected.

If you notice, all play in 3-4 schemes and their main responsibility is to rush the passer, versus David’s job as a 4-3 outside linebacker, which requires him to be well-versed in coverage, play in space, making open-field tackles and occasionally blitz.

The differences in those responsibilities are reflected in the stats, which can be seen in the chart below. You’ll see that the 3-4 linebackers, all accrued sack totals that rival, if not bettered, some of the league’s premier defensive ends.

All but one of these players (Brooks) recorded double-digit sacks, while only one (Suggs) recorded over 60 tackles. Hali and Brooks are the only players on that list who recorded interceptions.

  Player Team

Total

Ast

Sck

SFTY

PDef

Int

TDs

Yds

Lng

FF

Rec

TD

John Abraham ARI

29

6

11.5

1

4

Ahmad Brooks SF

49

8

8.5

8

1

0

22

22

1

Tamba Hali KC

39

7

11.0

0

2

1

1

10

10T

4

2

1

Robert Mathis IND

39

14

17.5

1

8

Terrell Suggs BAL

47

32

10.0

0

1

      0

Justin Houston KC

40

4

11.0

1

2

0

*Lavonte David TB

101

36

6.0

1

15

5

0

87

32

2

1

0

 

Meanwhile, David recorded more than double the number of solo tackles for every player listed and nearly did the same for combined tackles with the exception of Suggs. Brooks was the only player to even come close to the number of pass breakups, and no one touched him in the interception category.

But looking at sacks alone, it’s easy to see how David, who is one of the most well-rounded defensive players in the league, was overlooked, much like former Bucs teammate cornerback-turned-safety Ronde Barber, who finished his career last year with 1,005 tackles, 28 sacks and 47 interceptions.

“Show me somebody more productive all around,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said earlier this month about David. “The guy does it all. To me he’s my Defensive Player of the Year. I don’t even know if I get a vote, I don’t think I do – I’ll stump for him a little here.”

While no one can argue with David’s productivity, and this isn’t meant to take anything away from the players who were voted in,  it’s clear that the Pro Bowl selection process is a flawed system, asking voters to clump two very different types of players into a single category.

Making his mark

David began his season a virtual unknown outside of Tampa Bay, but on opening day against the New York Jets, he received notoriety for all the wrong reasons. He was flagged for a late hit on quarterback Geno Smith, who David did not realize was out-of-bounds, setting up a game-winning field goal for the Jets.

David fought back tears as the Jets celebrated, with one mistake overriding an otherwise big day for him, in which he recorded a sack and an interception.

He went on to become one of the biggest difference-makers on Tampa Bay’s defense this season, tackling running back Daniel Thomas in the end zone for a safety  in a 22-19 win over the Dolphins. He also had a pick in a 24-21 win over the Lions and two interceptions against the Bills.

David also became the first linebacker in NFL history to record at least six sacks and five interceptions in a season, joining safety Dave Duerson (1986), safety Rodney Harrison (2000) and cornerback Shawn Springs (2004).

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