Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For one game, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy fulfills potential

Gerald McCoy, limited by injuries during his first two seasons, dominated the line of scrimmage against Carolina in Week 1.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Gerald McCoy, limited by injuries during his first two seasons, dominated the line of scrimmage against Carolina in Week 1.

TAMPA

From the time he arrived in Tampa Bay with his wide grin and "aw shucks" personality, it was obvious DT Gerald McCoy was a good guy. But Bucs fans hoped he would become a better player.

It's as if those two traits were mutually exclusive. What was it Warren Sapp always said? You can't live soft and play hard?

Well, if that were true, there never would have been Lee Roy Selmon. But it's hard to argue McCoy's production has met his pedigree. He played in only 19 games and recorded four sacks over his first two seasons, each derailed by a torn biceps.

Last week, everything seemed to finally click for McCoy. In the Bucs' 16-10 win over the Panthers, he was disruptive, blowing up runs, causing havoc in the backfield and flushing QB Cam Newton out of the pocket. His one sack could easily have been three.

Even when McCoy didn't get home with his pass rush, he forced negative plays such as Newton's minus-6 yard completion.

"It's kind of like it was in college," the No. 3 overall pick in 2010 out of Oklahoma said. "After a while, you just know what's coming. You just kind of go with the flow. You just play the game, and everything slows down because you learn how to study film. You learn what to look for and what to watch.

"Now that I know everything that goes with it, it's time to put it together and just use it."

Ex-Bucs DT Brad Culpepper, who played alongside Sapp for six seasons, attended the game and made it a point to spy on McCoy.

"I … was very impressed," Culpepper said. "He kind of had a breakout game. Almost — dare I say — it was not dissimilar to the way Warren Sapp played in '97 in the game against San Francisco (21/2 sacks and a tackle that tore Jerry Rice's ACL and MCL). They couldn't block him one on one.

"And that's why you have to have a guy like that at that undertackle position. If you leave him one on one with a guard, (the guard) gets beat."

Culpepper admits his perception of McCoy was jaded by the megawatt smile and spicy sound bites.

"You tend to think he smiles, he has glasses and he's nice," Culpepper said. "How can he be a good defensive tackle? There are too many of us that are too young to remember Lee Roy Selmon and how he could dominate. But we all remember Warren Sapp, who was like the punky DT."

McCoy still has plenty to prove, including being capable of playing 16 games in a season. And he understands it's a bottom-line business.

But, he said, don't expect him to change personalities.

"Performance is everything," McCoy said. "Nothing else matters because nobody's going to say, 'Oh, he was a great guy.' They're going to say, 'Oh, he didn't perform.'

"I've been smiling since I've got here, but people also say I haven't been performing since I got here. Nobody cares that I'm smiling. Nobody cares that I'm a great guy. They care if I'm not performing."

Crowded field: The Bucs have 12 defensive backs on their 53-man roster partly because some, including CBs E.J. Biggers and Anthony Gaitor, have been nursing injuries. But it's also because of the contributions players, including Leonard Johnson and Cody Grimm, can make on special teams.

Once Biggers returns as the nickel cornerback, which could be today, some players could become expendable depending on the health at other positions.

Among them is CB Myron Lewis, who fell off the depth chart last week and was replaced by Brandon McDonald.

For one game, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy fulfills potential 09/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 15, 2012 4:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure

    Bucs

    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Of the 35 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 400 passes since 2015, Jameis Winston ranks 30th in completion percentage. He is third, however, in yards per completion. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  2. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?

    Blogs

    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

    The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.
  3. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  4. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft

    Preps

    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?

    Blogs

    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.