Recently re-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David has high regard for head coach Todd Bowles but recognizes what went wrong last season.
Bowles took over as the head coach in March 2022, and the Bucs stumbled to 8-9 and got blown out in the NFC Wild Card round. That’s despite Bowles, formerly the Bucs’ defensive coordinator, inheriting a Super Bowl-ready roster.
“It was a long road. Guys on the offensive side didn’t really know Coach Bowles or didn’t really have any communication with him in past years but last year was kind of like a stepping stone — [guys] getting to know him, getting to understand him and how he is, getting his philosophy, how he is as a head coach,” David told reporters on Thursday, March 23.
Tampa Bay’s offense notably sputtered to 18.4 points per game under Bowles and former offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Bowles fired Leftwich after the season and brought in former Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales. David noted that the Bucs’ offensive struggles didn’t affect the team’s support of Bowles.
“I feel like a lot of guys bought into what he’s about and what he likes to do. From being around the locker room, everybody loves him and respects him — especially on the offensive side,” David said. “Obviously, when he did get the head coaching job, guys would reach out and say, ‘You guys have been with Bowles this whole time, we don’t really know how he is.’ But obviously it’s been a good relationship with a lot of the guys so a lot of guys have a ton of respect for Coach Bowles.”
David: ‘I’m Comfortable With What We’ve Got’
David expects the Bucs to remain competitive despite the roster changes during the offseason, including the retirement of quarterback Tom Brady. The Bucs also parted ways with other notable players from the Super Bowl in 2020, including running back Leonard Fournette.
“I’m comfortable in what we’ve got. We’ve got a majority of our locker room still there, still intact,” David said. “We lost some key pieces, obviously, but a majority of our locker room is still intact and that’s something that I really like.”
The Bucs made key moves in free agency such as adding quarterback Baker Mayfield in addition to keeping defensive players such as David. The longtime Bucs veteran officially re-signed with the Bucs on Thursday with a one-year, $7 million deal.
“We lost some guys on the defensive line and then added [cornerback] Jamel Dean back so that was a big thing for us, for the organization,” David said. “I feel like we still are going to be a confident group.”
Bucs Seek First-Ever NFC South Three-Peat
Despite the disappointments of 2022, the Bucs won the NFC South division title for a second-straight year for the first time in franchise history.
The Bucs seek a first-ever three-peat for division titles in 2023. Tampa Bay notably never won the old NFC Central back-to-back years before joining the NFC South in 2002.
“We won the division in back-to-back years and now we’re trying to seek a third year,” David added. “I’m sure everybody feels like they could take the division but I feel like we’ve got the guys in the locker room with the people we added to have that competitive fire to get us to where we need to be.”