The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be having another terrible season, but Lavonte David is having an outstanding one. Aside from the losing, of course. Defensive coordinator had a bit of a moment gushing about David’s performance today, and I just wanted to quote the thing in full.
“Oh gosh, having Lavonte as healthy as he has been this year has been a big plus. He’s got a knack for taking the ball off of the receiver or off of the ball carrier. A couple of them he has not only taken it off, but he has recovered it. There are certain guys that have done it. [Charles] Tillman was a guy, a few years ago, that was great at stripping the ball and it’s something that you have to make a conscious effort at and not only on the practice field – you’ve got to do it the meetings. You’ve got to talk about, ‘Hey, there is a nice shot. There is a nice attempt.’ Getting the ball off is so important. He has done a very good job. He’s probably had what I would call, compared to last season, it’s a much better season even though we are not having the results as a team and as a defensive group. He has had a really fine season thus far this year.”
David’s been all over the field as usual, but he’s been particularly impressive in the turnover department. He’s forced five fumbles and recovered five fumbles this season. Three times, he recovered the fumble he himself forced—a pretty rare occurrence on its own, let alone three times in a season.
David is only the fourth player to force and recover five fumbles in a single season since at least 1989 (per Pro Football Reference’s database), and he’s the first player who did so while not being a dedicated pass-rusher. David’s mostly punched balls out of the hands of ball carriers, while Jared Allen, Chris Doleman and Justin Tuck blindsided quarterbacks preparing to throw the ball.
David’s always forced a lot of fumbles, so this isn’t really a fluke. He’s forced 17 and recovered 11 fumbles in a six-year career—it’s a skill, in his case. And that means that the Bucs can at least rely on those turnovers as long as David remains a Buc.