Gerald McCoy, Bucs' defensive linemen embracing big challenge
The Bucs lost two starters from their 2012 defensive line in free agency, but Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is firm in his belief there is enough remaining talent to intensify pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
On the second day of official offseason workouts, McCoy said his ability and that of those around him to do that is the biggest variable facing the Tampa Bay defense.
“Those guys were great players,” McCoy said, referring to end Michael Bennett and tackle Roy Miller. “But it’s the NFL. It’s a business. Things had to happen. They had to move on. But I think we have a great unit of guys right now. Somebody has to pick up the pieces.
McCoy and ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers will lead that effort, and failure is not an option.
“We put all the pressure on our backs,” McCoy said. “When we were working out yesterday and today, one thing I was pushing and telling guys is this defense doesn’t move unless we move. If we don’t hold up those guys or get the penetration or make the cutoff, then the linebackers can’t run free because they have to take on (blockers), and it opens up gaps. If we don’t get to the quarterback and pressure him, then we’re not helping our (defensive backs).”
The messaging is part of McCoy’s ramped-up effort to take on a leadership role. He was more assertive today than usual in talking about his role as a leader. Gone – at least for today – was the jovial side he can’t help but show, replaced by a somber, serious tone.
“My leadership ability has to (increase) because I have enough years under my belt now where I can say that this is my defense,” he said. “I have to improve on the things I didn’t do last year.”
McCoy wants to be part of coach Greg Schiano’s core of leaders who carry out the coach’s edicts and holds teammates accountable. Schiano may take less of a role in that regard after being more iron-fisted and inflexible in 2012, his first season.
“We knew he had to set the tone last year,” McCoy said. “Now, the tone has been set. Now, when new guys come in, he didn’t go about it the same way because he doesn’t feel he has to go through everything point by point because he’s got guys who have been here and he’s depending on his leaders to step up and make sure all those things get done.
“From a player’s standpoint, that’s how we want it.”