TAMPA — Like most teams in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week put out a release touting the players from their roster they believe worthy of consideration for the 2014 Pro Bowl.
The colorful yet modest release included a long list of supporting statistics for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback Darrelle Revis, wide receiver Vincent Jackson and safety Mark Barron.
What could have accompanied it was another release touting David for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Though the second-year pro out of Nebraska is hardly even a lock to make the Pro Bowl, he is the first linebacker in NFL history to have six sacks and five interceptions in one season. That alone should put the 6-foot-1, 233-pound David in the conversation for the higher honor, but if his work against the pass isn’t convincing enough, maybe his work against the run will be.
His 11 run stuffs, which are stops at or behind the line of scrimmage, lead all defensive players, while his 41 run stops are third overall and his 116 tackles are tied for fifth among all NFL defenders.
As a pass rusher, David has 22 combined pressures (sacks, hits and hurries), which is third among linebackers, while his five interceptions are second in the NFL for players at any position, behind Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy’s six.
Add it all up and David’s season is comparable to, if not better than, those put together by several of the linebackers who have won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in recent seasons.
Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks won the 2002 Defensive Player of the Year award after compiling 118 tackles, one sack and five interceptions.
In 2000, Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis won the award after compiling 136 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. And in 1985, Chicago linebacker Mike Singletary won it with 113 tackles, three sacks and one interception.
The difference is all three of those award winners were also Super Bowl champions in the same season. David’s Bucs won’t finish with a .500 record.
None of that should matter, though. The best player doesn’t have to come from the best team, and you certainly could argue that David has been the best defensive player in the league this year.
The Wright stuff
This has been a tough year for Bucs tight ends. The team lost the first three on its depth chart to season-ending injuries, which left untried rookie and converted receiver Tim Wright as the starter.
Wright, though, managed to turn what could have been a big negative into a positive.
Though he didn’t really start contributing as a pass catcher until Week 4, Wright enters today’s game with 38 receptions for 404 yards — second in both categories to only Jackson’s 64 catches for 1,033 yards. Wright also has three touchdown catches.
Wright is the 21st-most productive tight end in the league this year, while his 22 receptions on third down rank 17th among tight ends.
“When you lose three tight ends, I’d say the position took a hit,’’ Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “But Tim Wright has taken advantage of every opportunity and really become a very reliable, good player for us. He’s made a lot of big plays, converted on third down and become a better blocker every single day.’’
Top of the pops
Quarterback Mike Glennon’s passer rating has taken quite a hit the past two weeks, falling from its season high of 91.6 after a Week 12 victory against the Lions to its current 86.4.
But even at 86.4, Glennon still ranks third since the 2010 season among rookie quarterbacks through 10 NFL starts. In that time, only Washington’s Robert Griffin III (101.0) and Seattle’s Russell Wilson (90.5) posted better ratings than Glennon through his first 10 games.