Guest Article: Joe Wisniewkski was a season ticket holder with his dad from the late 90’s to 2007. They both traveled to the Super Bowl as well! He is active duty Navy and has been for about 5 and half years. You can find him on Twitter @I_Am_Joe_W and Instagram @I_Am_Joe_W
In the 2012 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the 58th overall pick to select a speedy line backer by the name of Lavonte David out of Nebraska. Early on the Florida Native looked like he may have been a great selection, totaling 112 tackles in his rookie year. Now in his 5th season, David has had continued success in his young career that included a 2013 1st team all pro listing and a 2015 Pro Bowl appearance.
While David has still had strong numbers in his first 4 full seasons, there has been a decline in solo tackles. After 112 tackles in his rookie campaign, David collected 107 solo tackles in his 2nd year then followed that up with 101 tackled in 2014, a season that he missed 2 games. In a full 16 games during the 2015 season, David had his worst season yet, finishing the year with just 85 tackles. While it was David’s least productive year as a pro, the argument can certainly be made that the decrease in production was in part caused by David playing alongside rookie Kwon Alexander who is arguably the most talented linebacker that David has shared the field with during his tenure with Tampa.
After his first 8 games of the 2016 season, the 26 year old has 44 solo tackles, putting him on pace for 88 assuming he plays all 16 games. While 88 tackles is still respectable, it does not compare to the numbers that David put up in the earlier portion of his career. What has perhaps been the most alarming aspect of Davis game this year though, is consistency, or lack thereof rather. In week two, David in the 64th game of his career failed to record a tackle in what was a blow out of the Buccaneers against the Arizona Cardinals. This was the first time David failed to get his name in the post game stat sheet. Lavonte followed that up with a strong 7 tackle game in a heart breaker to the Rams the next week, but collected only 5 tackles in the two games after that. This included just 1 in a Monday night match up against the Panthers and their back up QB Derek Anderson. Since then though, David has had 2 strong games with 7 tackles against the 49ers and 6 the week after that in the over time loss to the Raiders. That was followed up with another sub par performance with just 4 tackles in the embarrassing Monday night loss to the Falcons.
Perhaps it is the disappointing start to the season that has some Buccaneer fans throwing their arms up looking for any and everyone to blame. Maybe it is the quick emergence of the former LSU Tiger Kwon Alexander. What ever it may be though, David certainly does not look like the promising young linebacker fans saw in recent years. David is in the 1st year of a 5 year $50.25 million deal. With that being said the Buccaneers need to hope that David does not continue to show a decline in on field production or they may be faced with a major decision to make in a few years, before that contract expires after the 2020 season.