Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White is a very polarizing player when it comes to his on-field play and production.
There are times when the guy looks like the top-5 draft pick and world-beater the Buccaneers envisioned when they drafted him in 2019.
But then there are times where he looks like a backup, at best. Over-aggressiveness, the inability to make proper reads in coverage, and poor tackling/angles are the crutches of his game.
And when they show up, boy, do they show up.
In the worst ways possible, too.
There is one thing, however, that has rarely been questioned when it comes to White’s game and that’s his effort. White has always given every snap his all and it shows up on tape.
But on Thursday Night Football, White’s effort can easily be questioned and called out on multiple plays.
The worst example is up first. On this play, White simply strolls along while Ravens wide receiver Demarcus Robinson breaks his teammates’ ankles and scampers down the sideline for a first down.
This play was on a 3rd and 9, mind you. If White puts in any kind of effort, he can certainly close off the alley Robinson takes for the first down.
The Ravens scored a few plays later to make it a 17-10 game.
It’s simply inexcusable for White to give this type of effort on a play, outside of injury, obviously. There is no other way around it.
Before that play, Ravens running back Kenyan Drake beat White on a touchdown and White’s finish was horrid. Sure, he was beat and he wasn’t going to be able to affect the play like he could have in the previous example. At the same time, you always want to see a player finish and show that he isn’t losing the fire needed to win an NFL football game.
And, obviously, he takes a terrible angle when attempting to cover Drake.
Devin White LOL pic.twitter.com/u1iYnNcJIW— Nico (@elitetakes_) October 28, 2022
It’s just bad. And it’s not what any coaching staff -or fanbase- wants to see from a player who is a team captain.
The above plays are enough to make anyone frustrated or upset and things get even worse when acknowledging White’s continued regression. He hasn’t played anywhere near the All-Pro level he displayed during the 2020-2021 Super Bowl run.
Last year was a step back and this year has been a steady decline since White won the NFC Defensive Player of the Month award in September. Coming into the game, Pro Football Focus tagged White with the fourth-highest missed tackle rate (15.3%) among linebackers with at least 377 defensive snaps. His 51.0 coverage grade ranks 24th out of 32 qualifying players and his overall defensive grade of 38.2 is second-worst. Only the New York Giants’ Tae Crowder has a worse overall grade.
It’s highly unlikely anything will improve after Thursday night’s loss, either. White blew multiple coverages, again, and was bullied by rookie center Tyler Linderbaum throughout the night.
nice zone run from the Ravens with the Center Tyler Linderbaum getting on Devin White in the blink of an eye pic.twitter.com/BlHTk9rwAT— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) October 28, 2022
The Buccaneers are already suffering enough. The last thing they need is one of their best players to play like this. This team needs strong leadership more than anything else at this moment and when a captain plays like this, it can easily produce a ripple effect that no team wants.
It’ll be interesting to see where things do go from here in an overall sense, though. White has to be better than this – it’s that simple. Not just because of his role on the Buccaneers defense, but also because his future isn’t guaranteed beyond 2023. He needs to show that he’s worthy of second contract, one in which he’s said himself that if he gets his way, it’ll be at least $100 million per year.
If the Buccaneers are going to get better, White has to get better. And both parties are running out of time to do so.
Featured imgae via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports