TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was voted to his fourth straight Pro Bowl on Tuesday, sought out reporters Wednesday to get something off his chest. He was displeased that linebacker Lavonte David would not be joining him in Hawaii.
"I think it's terrible what's happening to Lavonte right now," McCoy said. "He's easily the best at what he does. He has a million tackles, three picks, one for a touchdown, forced fumbles, two sacks. He's been the most dominant at his position probably since 2013 and this has got to stop. It's very unfair what's happening to him. Seriously, if I could trade places with him I would.
"Everybody works hard to get to where they're at, but the system is flawed," he continued. "You've got to break that down and split it up. There's no way he can keep getting treated unfairly like this because he's a true 4-3 outside linebacker. If you ask me, he's the best at being that. He keeps getting played. Something has to be done. That's how I feel."
It's easy to see why McCoy was angry. David currently ranks fourth in the league with a team-high 126 tackles. He leads NFL linebackers with 12 pass breakups and is second with three interceptions. He is the only player this season with 100-plus tackles, three or more interceptions, two or more sacks and one or more forced fumbles.
But the outside linebackers who get the most notice these days are the ones in a 3-4 defense who primarily rush the passer. Of the outside linebackers voted into the Pro Bowl, only Thomas Davis of undefeated Carolina plays in a 4-3 defense. Despite having more solo tackles than anyone since entering the league in 2012, David has never made the Pro Bowl. The Bucs say that is wrong.
"It is a snub," Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "He's had a Pro Bowl year and should be recognized for it. You would think I'm a little bit biased because I work with him every day, but even as a fan if you take a look at what he's accomplished and look at his numbers, he's had a Pro Bowl-worthy season.
"But the system is why he's not a first-team Pro Bowler," Frazier said. "His play and his production dictate he should be a Pro Bowler without question. The system, I hope they take a look at it and come up with some clarity of what a true outside linebacker is and how they're defining an outside linebacker."
Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith agreed, saying there is a problem with the voting.
"A lot of guys listed (as outside linebackers) are defensive ends," Smith said. "They're rushing. They should be in a different category. So there's a small pool for guys like Lavonte David to get in. Derrick Brooks had to break into that. Lance Briggs had to break into that, and eventually people will take notice and see Lavonte David is about as good an outside linebacker as there is around."