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Bucs want improvement from McCoy, David

TAMPA — You can find the answer to just about anything on Google. Look on Facebook and locate old classmates. Ask Siri for directions and never get lost.

But if you want to know why defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David are not living up to expectations this season, to say nothing of their combined $145.45 million contracts, you have ask to Bucs coach Lovie Smith.

"I don't know that. Wish I knew the answer for that," Smith said. "We do have a high expectation. They have high expectations for themselves. Lavonte David missed some tackles (in Sunday's 32-18 loss to the Giants). He was in position to make some other plays. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen for whatever reason. It eventually will happen."

It's the kind of response that makes a fan want to chew through concrete.

Maybe that's the point. It's a mystery, hidden in a riddle and wrapped in an enigma.

Both began the season as newly minted superstars. McCoy has been to three straight Pro Bowls. David has been All-Pro, voted by his peers as the best outside linebacker in the NFL.

But in this 3-5 season, they have strung together one impact-free performance after another.

McCoy still is second on the team in sacks with 4½. But he has only four tackles and no sacks in the past three games, two of them losses. David leads the team in tackles with 69 with one sack, a forced fumble and no interceptions.

After Sunday's game, when the defense let New York chew the last five minutes off the clock, McCoy was so upset he refused to speak to reporters before leaving the locker room.

"There's not a fan, coach or media member that can be as frustrated with me as I am with myself," McCoy said Monday. "I understand that me being a franchise player, I have to do more. I understand that. That's where a lot of my frustration comes from. That's where a lot of it came from yesterday. I know I have to be better and I just needed time to cool off."

If McCoy were any cooler on the field, he'd be taken off in an ice truck. Theories abound as to his ineffectiveness. He hurt his shoulder in Week 2, missed a game and hasn't been the same since.

"Yes, I had an injury Week 2 and since I've been limited," McCoy said. "But hey, it doesn't matter. I have to find a way to get it done and I've never been one to run from any challenge or not know how to fight through adversity."

While McCoy is constantly double- and triple-teamed, guys just getting a taste of the NFL named Howard Jones and Josh Shirley are busy not beating one-on-ones. There's also the time-honored tradition of saying a nice guy like McCoy doesn't have enough "dawg'' in him. Funny thing is those same people won't put their hand in his cage.

"Lavonte is a great player. Same thing with Gerald," Smith said. "I think you have to be careful when you just look at the stat sheet. But forgetting about the stat sheet, our play from both of those guys we would say it's not good enough."

David seems oblivious that all his splash plays have evaporated. He missed four tackles Sunday and committed two big penalties. Is he frustrated?

"Me? No, not at all," David said. "I'm just doing what I'm told. I'm doing my job and just doing what is asked of me. I'm going out there playing hard. I mean, personally, I haven't even been thinking about that. I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do."

On Sunday, David and linebacker Kwon Alexander spent a lot of time on third down faking blitzes before backpedaling into coverage, only to be beaten over the middle almost every time by receiver Odell Beckham. Would they benefit from just staying off the ball in their zones?

"Absolutely not. Everything we do I believe in and has a proven success rate," Smith said. "Are you saying that's the reason why? Again, everything we do is to put our guys in the best position to be successful. If they're not, we'll keep working on them getting in better position and when they're in better position, they'll make more plays."

Better hurry, because people are starting to ask a lot of questions about McCoy and David. And frankly, nobody seems to have any answers.

"If a team is going to make a turnaround or a change or be successful, the best players have to produce," McCoy said. "We're just not doing that right now. It doesn't change who we are or what we've done. It's just, this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. We understand that, so moving forward, we just have to be better."

On the web

Tune in today at tampabay.com/bucs for a podcast featuring Times staff writers Rick Stroud and Greg Auman.

Bucs want improvement from McCoy, David 11/09/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 9:07am]
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