Gerald McCoy: Bucs team leaders need to hold players more accountable

NFC Pro Bowl team captain talks about what went wrong in 2017 and dealing with detractors on social media.
NFC defensive players, from left, DeMarcus Lawrence, Gerald McCoy, and Mike Daniels walk on the field during Pro Bowl NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan) FLSL105
NFC defensive players, from left, DeMarcus Lawrence, Gerald McCoy, and Mike Daniels walk on the field during Pro Bowl NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan) FLSL105
Published Jan. 24, 2018|Updated Jan. 24, 2018

Everybody remembers the encroachment penalty on fourth down by defensive tackle Chris Baker that contributed to the the Bucs' 22-19 loss to the Panthers in the final seconds of their game on Christmas Eve.

An ugly screaming match erupted into a scuffle between teammates in the locker room that day when several Bucs players took issue with Baker smiling and his lack of remorse following the game.

It was players holding another player accountable. Well, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy wishes it had happened sooner and more often during the 2017 season.

Speaking from the NFC locker room following Pro Bowl practice at Disney's Wide World of Sports, McCoy told 620-WDAE Wednesday that he and other team leaders need to do a better job of accountability during practice and in the locker room.

"Whether it was preparation. How guys prepared. How guys played," McCoy said. "We just shot ourselves in the foot a lot with penalties and mental errors. And then there were times where we just got beat as a team. The team was just better than us. That comes from experience. Guys have to band together. We've got to come together as a team and unit and get on the same page. We weren't always on the same page.

"I think myself and Lavonte (David), we take a lot of blame for that. Not doing enough in the room or at practice. If this thing is going to change, we need to take this thing over and make sure it changes."

McCoy, who is playing in his sixth Pro Bowl and was named a team captain for the NFC Wednesday,  said he has had time to reflect on the disappointing 5-11 season and believes much of the fault lies with the players for not doing their jobs.

"The coaches would be giving us the scheme and we would run the scheme, but if you if you're supposed to be in the B gap, be in the B gap," McCoy said. "If you're supposed to set the edge, set the edge. If we're in man, be in man. If you're supposed to drop to a certain spot, then drop to that spot.

"It wasn't that guys were being rebellious. I'm not saying that. But we've got to be more in tune as a unit and just more professional. But that just comes with time."

McCoy said much can be learned from the Bucs watching the league championship games last weekend.

"There's something different about them and you see it," McCoy said. "And I played against Jacksonville, we practiced against them multiple days. I saw the team they were then and what they became. They were a completely different group of guys and it was accountability. You never have to worry about whether a guy was going to do their job or where they were going to be. And the Patriots were the same way. They play all four quarters the same way, regardless of the outcome. If I got the B gap, I'm not going to jump in the A or do anything outside of that. I think guys try to do too much or didn't do enough.

"The leaders on the team, myself, Kwon (Alexander), Jameis (Winston), myself, Mike Evans and Josh Robinson, Lavonte were all the captains. If you're a captain, or just the leaders, it's our job to make sure it gets done. And I think we did, it's not like we lacked it. We've just got to more holding guys accountable. The coaches, they can't always do it.

"I talked to (Warren) Sapp and (Derrick) Brooks and one thing they did, they did it. They took it over. We've got to do a better job of taking it over. A lot of what I'm saying is it's my fault things didn't go the way they were supposed to go. But we're going to face that."

A six-time Pro Bowl player, McCoy has had his share of detractors. Occasionally, he engages with them on social media but still doesn't understand why so many negative comments are addressed to him.

"Here's the thing about social media," McCoy said. "I'm not very involved in it in season, so after the season, I see a lot more. And it's not that I care what these people say. I saw a guy yesterday and I responded because I think a lot of this stuff is funny. I don't want you guys to take me responding as I really care what these people say because a lot of these people are, for lack of a better word, idiots. And I might get some backlash for saying that but I don't care. Because their diagnosis for not knowing anything that goes on in an NFL locker room.

"One guy was like, "we should trade our pick and Gerald McCoy so we can get the first pick in the draft. And my response was, "out of all the people you could think of that we should trade, Gerald is the first person that pops in his head?' You know what I'm saying? That's not an arrogant statement. But if this team is going to get where it wants to get, you don't take one of your best players or one of your leaders and take him out. You know what I'm saying? Man, I get that a lot and I think to myself where is the logic in people saying "Gerald should get traded,' or "he's not this or he's not that. I don't get the logic it. I get so much hate but it doesn't affect me."