Derrick Brooks Talks “The Critical Piece”

July 13th, 2022

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

Tampa Bay’s 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 connected to One Buc Place and keeps in regular contact with players like David and Devin White.

Lavonte David

David, 32, has missed 10 games in the past five seasons and was placed on injured reserve for the final three regular-season matchups of 2021. He started both playoff games but said he was operating at 60 percent effectiveness due to a middle foot sprain that did not require offseason surgery.

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

“He wasn’t able to do that fully but I’m confident he’ll be 100 percent. I’m confident he knows that at this stage in his career, there’s certain things you need to adjust to. You’ve got to make these adjustments to make sure your body is going to be 100 percent for the rest of the season. I know for a fact he’s 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 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 scoring attack.

“I still like to think we’re in contention,” Brooks said. “I’m excited to see the team’s leadership under Todd Bowles. Coach Bowles now gets a chance to lead a contender versus his previous stint in New York, when he was into rebuilding a team. I’m excited to see the growth of Byron Leftwich now that he’s in full control of play-calling. I think our defense getting healthy is going to be the secret sauce that gets us back.”

For Brooks, those veteran defensive additions are strategic

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

Bucs safety Keanu Neal is a fit 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 we’ve got specific roles. And finally, these guys all fit the budget.”

The free-agent market wasn’t a one-way street for Tampa Bay, which saw Jordan Whitehead and Alex Cappa depart. Whitehead was a young, ascending safety targeted by the Jets.

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

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

“You’re getting a little bit more athleticism at the position right now,” Brooks said. “When healthy, Hicks has made impactful plays. It’s just that simple. They have a specific role for him, no different from when they targeted Suh several years ago. And Suh did it well. I commend him for everything that he was. The next man up is Akiem.”

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

“I’m excited these opportunities came,” Brooks said. “And luckily for us, Todd Bowles was still here to assume the leadership role. I’m so excited to see the growth of Coach Leftwich — now that the autonomy is all his.”


7 Responses to “Derrick Brooks Talks “The Critical Piece””

  1. Goatfarmer Says:


    Imagine that for a goal line defense. Vita, Hicks AND Suh. Cmon.

  2. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    The fact that no team has signed Suh, says a lot. Teams know he is on a decline. Raiders and Vikings have had some interest for him lately but most likely he would fill in as part-time or in backup role. Hicks is still has explosion in his legs. He just needs to find a way to stay healthy.

  3. Vinny from Vermont Says:

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but it would seem that Derek’s 2 quotes regarding Brian Leftwich (see below), might suggest that there is credibility to the belief articulated by some that BA was quick to nix certain play calling strategies that BL and TB had worked on all week prior to upcoming games:
    1. “I’m excited to see the growth of Byron Leftwich now that he’s in full control of play-calling.”
    2. ” I’m so excited to see the growth of Coach Leftwich — now that the autonomy is all his.”

    If my “read” is in fact correct, here’s to hoping that BA’s red marker doesn’t find its way back into the mix of deciding gameday play calling strategy in 2022.

  4. BillyBucco Says:

    I like that comment but also realize we don’t know for SURE BA was a PROBLEM.
    Maybe BA called the pass to Scotty against GB?
    Maybe BA brought them back against the Jets?

    Brooks just says yes, this year it will all be Leftwich.
    I’m not completely SOLD that is a good thing.

    I’m pretty sure the stale plays we see is Leftwich confused on what direction to go. Running the ball one to many times and NOT keeping the other team off balance is a fault IMO.

    We shall see what happens!!
    I’m obviously HOPING Leftwich is a phenom

  5. Vinny from Vermont Says:


    Re: Your comment. Couldn’t agree more.
    I would just be happy to see fewer runs up the middle on 1st down

  6. Goatfarmer Says:

    It’s all about Todd. Anyone concerned about the offense is tripping over a c-note to pick up a quarter.

  7. 1#bucsfan Says:

    LVD being healthy n our DBs too is going to be huge. If we can stay somewhat healthy we have all the pieces to take out the top contenders in the rams n chiefs even without gronk but mark my words gronk will show up eventually idk when but he’s not done. This might just be the best year in TB12s career. He will lead in every category n in a good way.