• Thu. Sep 22nd, 2022

Derrick Brooks talks about “The Critical Piece” – JoeBucsFan.com

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Jul 13, 2022

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BY IRA KAUFMAN

Derrick Brooks is bullish on his Buccaneers, singling out some defensive additions and Lavonte David’s improving health as key factors for a favored team to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

The Tampa Bay Hall of Fame linebacker spoke with me earlier this week at an event to announce a partnership between Derrick Brooks Charities and PDQ Restaurants that will benefit youth through educational programs.

Brooks is still very much connected to One Buc Place and stays in regular contact with the likes of David and Devin White.

Lavonte David

David, 32, has missed 10 games over the past five seasons and was placed on reserve for the final three games of the 2021 regular season. He started both playoff games but said he was running at 60 % effective due to midfoot sprain. who did not require off-season surgery.

“When you look at how successful this defense is, when Lavonte isn’t playing, the numbers speak for themselves,” said Brooks, who never missed a game during his 14-year career at Tampa. “Devin obviously comes in and he’s going to be a great player, but having Lavonte there makes him so much better. The critical element of all of this is all the other things that people don’t see that Lavonte brings to this team.

“He hasn’t been able to do it fully, but I’m 100% sure he will be. I’m sure he knows that at this point in his career there are certain things you You have to make those adjustments to make sure your body will be 100 percent for the rest of the season. I know for a fact he made those adjustments. Lavonte is very critical to the success of this defense.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Rob Gronkowski, Brooks likes the talent on the roster that Jason Licht has forged.

The Bucs signed Akiem Hicks, Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal on defense and added Shaq Mason and Russell Gage to the NFL’s No. 2 offense.

“I always like to think we’re in contention,” Brooks said. “I’m thrilled to see the leadership of the team under Todd Bowles. Coach Bowles now has the chance to lead a contender from his previous stint in New York when he was rebuilding a team. I am delighted to see the growth of Byron Leftwich now that he has full control of the game. I think our healthy defense will be the secret sauce that will bring us back.

For Brooks, these veteran defensive additions are strategic

“When you look at some of the signings, I think the coach and the staff have in mind the roles they want these guys to play,” he said. “The foundation of defense is there, but when you start to dive into specific skill sets, creative confusion arises because you have certain people to do certain things.

Bucs safety Keanu Neal is in good shape financially and on the field.

“For example, asking Richard Sherman to play a safety position as a corner wasn’t the best last year, but now you have someone. I think it was very smart of them to say that we have specific roles. And finally, these guys all fit the budget.

The free agent market was not a one-way street for Tampa Bay, which saw Jordan Whitehead and Alex Cappa leave. Whitehead was a young rising safety targeted by the Jets.

“Did you lose it or did someone else pay more for it?” Brooks asked. “What can you do? You wish the player good luck and move on.

Hicks, plagued by recent injuries in Chicago, replaces Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle.

“You get a little more athleticism in this position right now,” Brooks said. “When healthy, Hicks made hard-hitting plays. It’s that simple. They have a specific role for him, no different than when they targeted Suh several years ago. And Suh did it well. I congratulate him for everything he has been. The next man is Akiem.

With Bruce Arians as a senior adviser, Brooks is eager to see what Bowles and Leftwich can accomplish this fall.

“I’m thrilled that these opportunities have presented themselves,” Brooks said. “And luckily for us, Todd Bowles was still there to take on the leadership role. I’m so excited to see the growth of Coach Leftwich – now that the autonomy is all his.

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