Lavonte David was the guest on the Bucs Total Access radio show and shared a lot about his coach and Defensive Coordinator Mark Duffner, in particular. What David says sets Duffner apart is how much he loves the game and takes pride in the game, even as much as the players do.
David said Duffner shows that he cares about his players, which makes them love him even more. And Duffner loves his players. When linebacker Kwon Alexander went down in the Cleveland game with a torn ACL, the entire team was in the training room with Alexander at halftime, and it was Duffner that showed his more emotional side, crying as he talked to Alexander.
David insists that Duffner deserves all the credit for the defensive turnaround these past few weeks. He said Duffner stresses simplicity and with so many young guys on the defense having to step up, lets his players just line up and play, which they all appreciate. It's in an effort to give young guys an opportunity to fly around and make plays.
After Alexander's injury, David has been wearing the green dot on his helmet, serving as the defensive signal caller on the field when he's healthy. Since taking over as DC, Duffner has met with David each week and will ask his opinion on the game plan; what he likes and doesn't like about it or what he would change. David says he really appreciates the collaboration and it just ups the already tremendous amount of respect he has for Duffner.
On a personal note, David was asked what he would like to do if he wasn't playing in the NFL. Without hesitation, he said he would want to be a firefighter. He fell in love with the idea of being able to help people, as well as the challenges the job presents, when he was in high school. He hasn't ruled out becoming one after his playing days are over, either. He said he hasn't had the opportunity to visit a local fire station here in Tampa yet, but would jump at the opportunity.
A couple of sound bites from Head Coach Dirk Koetter on Monday from his weekly Monday afternoon press conference that stood out:
Center Ryan Jensen had a personal foul penalty on Sunday and it's not exactly the first he's committed. It's kind of his M-O, known for his aggressive style of play and playing through the whistle. Jensen is fiercely protective of his quarterback, as well as his fellow linemates, and it shows. While no one wants Jensen to commit unnecessary penalties, they don't want him to change his style of play either, according to Coach Koetter.
"First of all, when we brought Ryan here, we wanted to bring the type of player with Ryan's aggressiveness here," Koetter said. "We talk to Ryan about playing close to the line, but not crossing over the line. He had a personal foul yesterday, he had a holding penalty. There [were] a lot of plays that got called in that game yesterday – some went our way, some didn't go our way. Officials have a tough job. I personally did not agree with the personal foul penalty. It was on a downfield screen and Ryan, he's being aggressive on that play. It wasn't a cheap shot by any means. He's running and about the time the whistle blows – on the film you can't see when the whistle blows – he hits the guy and the guy kind of turns back into him and Ryan's trying to jump over him. We don't want Ryan to have penalties. By his own admission, he does cross over the line sometimes. He also had a holding penalty and on that particular one, it wasn't the most blatant holding penalty – his hand kind of got caught in a guy's face mask. Do we want to get penalties? No. Do we want him to totally change his style of play? No."
During the game on Sunday, there seemed to be a drastic shift in momentum following a blocked punt. What was more interesting to note is that apparently there's tangible evidence that teams usually lose when having a punt blocked, according to Coach Koetter.
"We still had the lead and our defense was still playing extremely well," Koetter said of the point in time the Bucs had their punt blocked. "I think just from that point on, we just didn't hardly make any first downs on offense after that. As I said last night, we went from almost 17 minutes of time of possession, 16:40 in the first half, to like 12 minutes in the second half. Our defense just wore down in the fourth quarter. We didn't tackle as well – we'd been tackling fine up until the fourth quarter. They've got some kind of stat out there – what's your percentage of winning after having a punt blocked and it's not good. I don't know exactly off the top of my head what it is, but it's an extremely high number."