Is it Bowles’ lack of defense or White’s lack of play?



I’m not here to ring the alarm bell for a potential lackluster player. I am, however, here to voice my concern over the fifth overall draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Yes, the freakish linebacker who ran an unprecedented 4.42 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. The same once in a generation player and athlete the Tampa Bay Buccaneers felt sold on enough to make him an overnight millionaire and the defensive face of the franchise. Yes, I’m talking about Devin White. So what’s all the noise about?

Well, you see that’s the thing. Since the 240-pound linebacker has taken over as play caller for the Buccaneers defense, he’s made splash plays all throughout OTAs, minicamp and training camp. All of which should be expected right? That was until it was time to play against a different team.

Gameday No-Shows?

Earlier this month, I wrote an article detailing how I felt White was outplayed by fellow top 10 inside linebacker, Devin Bush, who took the spotlight in the Week 1 matchup against the Steelers. And to the dismay of many, the play hasn’t gotten much better since. One thing that I do want to remain abundantly clear: Devin White will do well this year for Tampa Bay. There’s no doubting that. What I’m trying to figure out is when will I see a few plays in preseason where it reminds me of greatness?

What We Know So Far

I understand the notion of Todd Bowles not wanting to deploy regular-season defensive schemes in exhibition games. I get that. What you can’t justify, though, is the lack of play White has put out in his sample size of live-action play.

If you close your eyes right now and try to envision one impact or blow up play from White this preseason, the truth is you might come up empty. The other ugly truth is that White very well could be kept out of the preseason finale next week. So this is what White would have in his three-game sample size so far. Through roughly a game and half of real gameplay through the first three matchups, White has four total tackles.

More Splash Plays

That’s it. No interceptions, no pass deflections, and no sacks. Just no splash plays you would expect from a fifth overall pick. Disagree with me if you wish, but the Buccaneers played a downright dominant defensive game against Cleveland last week and to many, he didn’t stick out.

His three total tackles in a little over a half of play were overshadowed by a lockdown performance by the secondary led by Jordan Whitehead. And even in his position group, it looked as if Deone Bucannon (who also made great coverage plays as a safety hybrid) and Kevin Minter made more impact football plays in the first half. In a game where Lavonte David was a spectator, I expected a little bit more.

Here’s To Hoping 

At the end here’s what you hope; that 90% of White’s playmaking ability will be revealed when Kwon Alexander returns week 1 to Tampa Bay. This time to face his predecessor at the position. The only problem is so far, the sample size hasn’t justified the hope. Not yet at least.