About a month ago, Gerald McCoy heard former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy offer some unsolicited advice during one of his TV appearances.
"He said, "When you're winning, say little and when you're losing, say less,'' McCoy said. "That's been kind of where I've been at with talking.''
So he clammed up. McCoy broke three weeks of silence with reporters Monday. He missed two games with a calf injury before returning to Sunday's 42-28 loss at Carolina.
"We haven't been winning,'' McCoy said. "Defense hasn't been playing good. There's not really a lot of talking that needs to be done. So that's why I haven't been doing interviews, because it's just like nine years in, the defense is playing bad, how much talking do I really need to do? 'Oh we need to fix this. Oh we need to fix that.'
"It's just you either get it done or just don't say nothing. So that's kind of where I've been. If it seemed personal or anything, I apologize because it hasn't been about that. It's been about working. I just want to get the job done, and we haven't been doing that.''
Halfway through his ninth NFL season, McCoy has only been part of two winning teams — his rookie year in 2010 and again in 2016.
The Bucs defense is last in the NFL and on pace to set a league record for points allowed with 550, 17 more than the 1981 Baltimore Colts, who own the record with 533 points.
"It's very frustrating,'' McCoy said. "I could go into all the negatives. But I'm not a negative person, so I'm going to speak on the positives. The positive is it's only halfway through the season. We have a chance to turn this thing around. We've just got to come out and play, man.
"We've got to be more disciplined. All of us. Myself included, especially me. And we've just got to tackle better. Yesterday was just a game of not tackling. We just watched film where there were a lot of plays that were 1-yard gains and loss of yardage and we just didn't tackle.
"This is the NFL, man. I'm going to say it. I don't care how everybody else feels — this is the best division in football. I'm going to go ahead and say it. I don't care. It's the best division in football. If you play a division game in this division, you've got to bring it play in and play out. Especially with Carolina. We've just got to be better on that end.''
McCoy said he got an angry telephone call from Bucs Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp Sunday after the game.
"We hear it from all ends,'' McCoy said. "Ninety-nine gave me an earful yesterday. That's what he does. That's my brother, though. That's my older brother. When he gets on me, that's what he does.''
McCoy also addressed not being named team captain for the first time in about six years.
"How to you think I reacted? You've been around me since I was a rookie,'' McCoy said. "How do you think I reacted?
"Do you think it means so much to me that it would bother me that my brothers got it? Because that's two very deserving people. If I didn't get voted a captain, then the team obviously voted on who they thought should be the captains for this year. I have no problem with that. I'm nine years in.
"I've been a captain for five, six, I don't know how many years. It's okay they're captains. Kwon deserves to be a captain. So what if they get voted. They're leading the defense. They're two of the leaders. The team thought they should be the leaders. It is what it is. It doesn't hurt my feelings.''