Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David named as Defensive Player of the Year runners-up by Pro Football Focus

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't have a special defense this year, but they had some incredible players on that side of the ball anyway.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had two legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidates on their team. Two guesses as to who those players are.

It's rather difficult to be Defensive Player of the Year on a bad team and an unremarkable defense, but Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David both deserve some real consideration. McCoy's nine sacks on the season and his presence as one of the leading pass-rushers in the league regardless of position are remarkable given the fact that he spent half of the season being taken out of plays on end-tackle stunts. He would have had double digit sacks, had the New Orleans game charter not cheated him out of a Drew Brees sack and somehow handed that to Adrian Clayborn.

Lavonte David's numbers are even more remarkable. Six sacks, five interceptions, nine passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one safety and 144 total tackles is a ridiculous stat-line for any linebacker. It's arguable a better stat-line than Derrick Brooks ever put up. Lovie Smith calling him a "younger version" of Brooks wasn't idle praise. He really is that good.

According to PFF, though, J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn both had better seasons. That's perfectly reasonable, and both are absolutely terrific players. It's no slight to McCoy and David that those two players are ranked ahead of them. It's just remarkable that the Bucs had two legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidates, while their defense was decent at best.

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