David Streaks into ROTY Consideration

Doug Martin’s statistical onslaught over the last five weeks has added a new wrinkle to the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year debate, which in the early going seemed to be a two-horse race between the top two picks in the 2012 draft, QBs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Now it appears as if another Buccaneer is forcing his way into the conversation for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.  With an incredible 30 tackles over the last two games, Buccaneers LB Lavonte David has become impossible to ignore.

In fact, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com thinks the Bucs’ sideline-to-sideline playmaker is the leader in that race.  There certainly aren’t many defenders in the league, let alone rookies, who are bringing opposing ballcarriers to the ground more often.

NFL.com, using totals reported from the stadium on game day, has David tied for fourth among all NFL players with 81 tackles.  That actually puts him second among league rookies in that category, because Carolina LB Luke Kuechly has 87 stops at this point.  However, it’s worth noting that David climbs higher on the list when one focus only on solo tackles, removing the assists that are used to calculate a player’s combined total of stops.  Here are the top five players in the NFL in solo tackles so far this year (well, top seven, thanks to a tie), according to the statistics reported on NFL.com:

1. LB James Laurinaitis, STL 68
2. LB Lavonte David,   TB 67
3. LB Daryl Washington, AZ 64
4t. LB Russell Allen, SEA 56
4t. LB Chad Greenway, MIN 56
4t. LB Curtis Lofton, NO 56
4t. LB Paul Posluszny, JAX 56

A week after racking up an incredible 16 tackles at Oakland (14 of them solo), David was all over the field again Sunday against the Chargers, making 14 stops (13 of them solo).  Using game day-reported statistics retroactively through franchise history (the team has usually self-reported statistics using coaches’ review of game film), those two games make David just the third Buccaneer ever to have at least 14 tackles in two straight games.  Derrick Brooks did it twice, once in 1998 and once in 2000, and Barrett Ruud did it in 2009.

David also got his team-leading 12th tackle for a loss on Sunday against San Diego.  Of those 12, 8.5 are what are considered “stuffs,” or tackles behind the line of scrimmage on running plays.  Only three players in all of the NFL, none of them rookies, have more stuffs this year: Denver’s Von Miller, Philly’s DeMeco Ryans and Houston’s J.J. Watt.

The numbers certainly start to add up when one considers David’s Rookie of the Year credentials.  Of course, as Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano points out, David has helped the Bucs in other ways too, primarily due to the fact that he is the team’s defensive play-caller.

“Lavonte has been very good,” said Schiano.  “It starts with the communication – he’s calling the defenses.  And then with his individual play, you know he’s very, very productive, very efficient for any level, vet or rookie.  Now that you take into account that he’s a rookie I think it makes it even more special.”

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