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Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh: Are the Buccaneers better off with Suh?

The defensive tackles have had similar careers, but Suh stands out in one particular area.
Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh have been voted to the Pro Bowl a total of 11 times and have garnered first-team All-Pro honors a total of four times. [Associated Press]
Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh have been voted to the Pro Bowl a total of 11 times and have garnered first-team All-Pro honors a total of four times. [Associated Press]
Published May 22, 2019
Updated May 22, 2019

A day after releasing Gerald McCoy and clearing $13 million in salary cap space, the Buccaneers moved quickly Tuesday to fill the void along their defensive line. Word is that Ndamukong Suh is their target. You might have heard that the defensive tackle was drafted one spot ahead of McCoy in 2010.

It’s a bit of a curious fit, especially in light of coach Bruce Arians’ assertion that McCoy is no longer as dominant as he once was. Couldn’t the same be said of Suh, who at 32 is a year older than McCoy? Yes, he bounced back some with the Rams in 2018, but a related note: He played next to four-time All-Pro Aaron Donald. Another related note: Donald isn’t coming with him to Tampa Bay.

As McCoy and Suh prepare to enter their 10th seasons, both remain very good players. There’s no question about that. The question is whether the Bucs will be better off with Suh than they would have been with McCoy. For the answer, we turned to the numbers. In terms of pass-rush productivity, they’re near equals. Where we begin to see some separation is in run defense.

Quarterback hits and sacks per season

After leaving Detroit for Miami in 2015, Suh’s production slipped for three straight seasons. Edge: Even

Source: Pro Football Focus

Pressure percentage

Sacks are easy to count, but they sometimes fail to reflect a defender’s true impact. A lineman can disrupt a play and get virtually no credit in the box score, as was the case in the Bucs’ Week 13 win over the Panthers. In the fourth quarter, McCoy hit Cam Newton twice, and both times the hits led to interceptions. Pressures, which include hits and hurries, tell a more complete story. From their rise to All-Pros to their gradual declines, McCoy and Suh have matched each other step for step. Edge: Even

Source: Pro Football Focus

Run-stop percentage

A defender is credited with a “run stop” for preventing a runner from gaining 40 percent of the yards needed for another first down on first down, gaining 60 percent of the yards needed for a first down on second down and converting a third down or fourth down into a first down. Edge: Suh, by a large margin

Source: Pro Football Focus

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

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