Linebacker Lavonte David once again led the team with 120 combined tackles and ranks 10th in the league in tackles for loss with 13 this season. Of those ten players, David is the only non-pass rusher to be found. Go back to 2012 and David has the second-most tackles for loss in that span behind J.J. Watt. Yeah. See, David plays in a 4-3 system as the weak side linebacker, therefore most of his tackles come in space and in the underneath zone. Though he did notch 3.5 sacks this season, that's mostly not his job. Because of it, he gets overlooked in a big way. He's amazingly only made the Pro Bowl once, in 2015, though he was named an All-Pro in 2013 but didn't make the Pro Bowl that year. Whatever.
The year David did make the Pro Bowl, he had 147 combined tackles with 10 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and five quarterback hits. Compare that stat line to his 2018 season; David had 120 combined tackles, as mentioned above, with 13 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits. David also forced two fumbles in 2018, down from an incredible five in 2017. The two were enough to give him the franchise record for most fumble recoveries as he surpassed Ronde Barber with his 13th recovery during the Bucs' Week 15 matchup with the Ravens in Baltimore.
This is David's 13th career fumble recovery, which is what broke Ronde Barber's franchise record. David was down on the line showing a potential blitz when Ravens' quarterback Lamar Jackson fumbled the snap. Given David's proximity, he recognized the snafu quickly and pounced.
Somewhere in there is a highlight of David sacking Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton. It came right before the end of the first quarter with David initially lining up over the B-gap. Before the snap, he slowly crept over to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's outside shoulder. While the running back, who would have likely been used to block David had he came up through his initial alignment, sold the play action hand-off, David came in unblocked and unaccounted for off the edge and dropped Newton for a loss of seven.
This was perhaps one of the biggest defensive plays of the season, as Scott Smith will attest to, and it shows up in this highlight reel. The Cleveland Browns faced a fourth-down and two situation right before the half and were on the cusp of swinging momentum in their favor inside the red zone. Browns' quarterback Baker Mayfield kept the ball and was already across the first down marker when David chased him down and punched the ball out, knocking it out of bounds behind the first-down line, where by rule, the ball would be spotted and creating a turnover on downs. David had eyes on Mayfield the whole time and as he came down on the blitz, got tied up with the guard. Once he saw Mayfield scramble to his left, David was able to disengage and run the quarterback down from behind. It was an incredible heads up play that realistically had the same effect as a turnover for the Bucs and helped them eventually come away with a win.
Off the Field:
Off the field, David is a national ambassador for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. In addition to representing the organization on his cleats for the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats initiative, he also hosted a bowling event for the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters chapter in Tampa in partnership with his Lavonte's Legends Foundation.
He followed it up as he proudly donned cleats designed by a local “Big” and “Little” during the Bucs' home win against the division-rival Carolina Panthers in which David registered a sack on quarterback Cam Newton. He wanted to further raise awareness for the organization in order to encourage more participation in the Tampa Bay area.