TAMPA — Three games into what the Bucs hope will be a long and productive career, Gerald McCoy has no sacks and admittedly hasn't developed as quickly as planned at under tackle.
That's because the third overall pick from Oklahoma started two of the first three games at right defensive end in a 4-3 alignment.
Instead of being tutored by Warren Sapp, maybe McCoy should've hit up Simeon Rice for some pointers.
None of this bothers coach Raheem Morris, who admits moving McCoy like a chess piece is what's best for the Bucs and not necessarily best for McCoy.
"If I was thinking selfishly for McCoy, I would probably say yes (to staying in one position)," Morris said. "But thinking selfishly from a defensive standpoint, that makes us better. You love Quincy (Black) on that edge. If (McCoy) was a selfish player, he would come to me and say, 'Hey, just leave me in this one spot and let me get better at it,' but he doesn't have that in him. Our defense needs him to move around and be productive, be smart, be sharp and be wise beyond his years. And he has been.
"During the season, you've got to do what's best for your football team."
Regardless of where he has played, McCoy has been disruptive. His five tackles are the second most of any Bucs defensive tackle. Two of those stops were for a loss, and his three quarterback pressures are second only to DE Stylez White.
"I think it helps him because they can't find him a little bit," Morris said. "It helps him get in different spots where he's able to make disruptive plays. He's got two tackles for loss and a bunch of tackles for us. The sacks will come; he's just got to continue to rush. The sacks are going to have to come with that group pressure we've talked about."
The problem for Morris is that the Bucs have four sacks, all coming in Week 2 at Carolina.
The Bucs' most effective formula to rush the passer has been a 3-4 alignment in which Black lines up as an outside rusher.
The Bucs knocked out Panthers starter Matt Moore after McCoy lined up at defensive end and occupied three blockers so Black could come through on a delayed stunt and bury the quarterback.
"McCoy was just as much a part of that Quincy sack against the Carolina Panthers as anybody," Morris said. "When there are three guys blocking him and he still busts through and forces the quarterback to step up into Quincy's lap and Quincy gets a monstrous hit on the quarterback and we see a new guy, that's pretty productive for me when you're talking about Gerald McCoy."
" … When we talk about wins, it's not just the sack number. It's did you affect the quarterback's throw, were you able to knock the pass down, did you get a tip on the ball, did you make the quarterback run outside the pocket because he couldn't see this wide open receiver here? All those things you talk about with the one-on-one rush."
McCoy doesn't seem to mind the defensive-line shuffle.
"It's not a big deal because I'm used to it," McCoy said. "I did the same thing at Oklahoma."
Sapp has said it takes three seasons at under tackle to master the position. That learning curve could be bigger for McCoy.
But depth at defensive tackle with second-round pick Brian Price and second-year pro Roy Miller has freed McCoy to provide an outside rush.
In the short term, it's a good move by Morris, who knows he has to win now to keep coaching McCoy.
Caddy shackled: The Bucs' loyalty to Cadillac Williams is admirable and understandable. And it might be helping to strangle the running game.
Williams has 55 carries for 139 yards and no touchdowns in three games for a 2.5-yard average. Some of that is the result of Williams' unselfishness and willingness to slam the football in there at the end of the first half against the Panthers and the end of the game against the Browns.
And penalties on the offensive line nullified some of his best runs. An 18-yard gain against the Browns was wiped out by a holding call on TE Kellen Winslow. A 22-yarder against the Browns was erased by a holding penalty on RG Davin Joseph.
So Williams' totals could be enhanced by 63 yards on five carries canceled by flags. But that yardage would only push Williams' average to 3.36 yards.
Many of the flags have been thrown by the umpire, who has been moved from behind the middle linebacker to 12 yards behind the quarterback, where he has a better view of the hand placement of the offensive linemen. But that affects every team.
After two major knee surgeries, Williams, 28, might have lost some explosion. But what would help him is not being asked to carry the entire rushing load. Kareem Huggins has been hurt. LeGarrette Blount has only been in Tampa a month. Look for both to get extensive playing time moving forward.