Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Can Lavonte David get to Derrick Brooks level?

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

When it comes to the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team tends to be at their best when the defense is at its best, regardless of era. The 2002 defense won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson, and while Tom Brady was the catalyst in a very talented 2020 team winning the big one, the defense were the ones who shined the brightest on the biggest stage. One doesn’t need to look far that the franchise is a historically defensive one considering a 43-year-old Brady is already the franchise’s greatest quarterback.

When it comes to the aforementioned 2002 team, Johnson was able to become a Super Bowl-winning quarterback thanks to a defense that features (as of now) three Hall of Famers in Warren Sapp, John Lynch, and Derrick Brooks, with Simeon Rice and Ronde Barber hopefully getting their names called soon.

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In the case of Brooks, he was the spiritual leader of that legendary defense. His five interceptions, three of which were touchdowns, were the biggest reason he was the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was the best player on the best defense. His pick-six in Super Bowl XXXVII put an exclamation mark on both his and the Buccaneers’ legendary seasons. It’s a play that is cemented in both Buccaneers and NFL lore. Brooks is arguably the greatest Buccaneers defender, and possibly even player, of all time.

Lavonte David, on the other hand, was the spiritual veteran leader of the Buccaneers defense in 2020. Sure, Brady was the team leader due to his age and GOAT status, but David has been in Tampa since 2012, and due to his tenure is looked at with high regard amongst the team.

David was the driving force in the Bucs defense shutting down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV thanks to his leadership, and his six tackles and two defended passes certainly helped as well. If you compare that to Brooks’ seven tackles (one for loss) and pick-six, both linebackers had comparable Super Bowl performances.

This brings us to this. Lavonte David can one day match Derrick Brooks if he hasn’t already.

This may come off as blasphemous off-hand, or at the very least surprising, but after we looked at their Super Bowl numbers, let’s dive a little deeper.

Brooks is the Buccaneers all-time leader in tackles with 1300 on the dot which he recorded over his 14-year career in Tampa. David, in his nine seasons to this point, is in third with 806. He also has recorded a safety which is something Brooks can’t say. The big takeaway is, with David singing a new contract to stick around for a bit, this is a mark he can absolutely pass. When it comes to tackles for loss, David’s 128 is far and away the most in Bucs history, blowing Brooks’ 68 out of the water.

Brooks was best known for his coverage skills. HIs 25 ranks fifth all-time for the Bucs, which is pretty astounding for a linebacker, with David’s 12 tied for tenth with Dwight Smith, Jeris White, and Mark Robinson. Again, pretty astounding for a linebacker.

Then there’s the skill of rushing the passer. In this department, David’s 24 career sacks to this point are good enough for 12th all-time in Tampa history. Rather surprisingly, Brooks only recorded 13.5 sacks in his Hall of Fame career.

So here’s the point. Yes, David may not have a Defensive Player of the Year award (yet) like Brooks, and one can’t really quantify or put a number on a legacy. Brooks is one of, if not the most beloved Buccaneer ever. However, when it comes to things you can quantify, like stats, it’s pretty obvious that David is not far off from Brooks, and may one day pass him in at least most major statistical categories.

Lavonte David may one day surpass Derrick Brooks on the stat sheet, or even get to his level legacy-wise. An argument may even be made that he’s already at that level. The question then becomes, is Lavonte David a Hall of Famer? It certainly looks like he has the numbers to back up his claim. For now, let’s just rejoice in the fact that he’ll be staying in Tampa Bay for the time being.

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