Earlier this month, Gerald McCoy fired back at his critics in an Instagram message.
“All-Pro on and off the field,” he said. “Want to question me? ‘Is he going to be ready? Does he love football?’ What? Y’all crazy. Lost y’all mind. I work. Don’t you ever question me.”
Minds changed: Zero.
Since the defensive tackle and the Bucs “mutually parted ways,” the social media trolls have been out in full force, denying that he has ever been a dominant performer and was invisible late in games.
McCoy himself has perpetuated such misconceptions.
“Where is my energy in the fourth quarter?” he said in April 2017. “Is my technique dropping in the fourth quarter?”
To fill the void along their defensive line, the Bucs signed Ndamukong Suh last week to a one-year deal that could be worth up to $10 million. Will he have a greater impact during crunch time?
In Suh’s nine seasons, he has generated 136 pressures in the fourth quarter and overtime, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s the second most among interior defenders since 2010. The breakdown of those pressures: 18 sacks, 24 hits and 94 hurries.
As for McCoy, he has generated 114 pressures in that span, placing him fifth among interior defenders. The breakdown: 19 sacks, 21 hits and 74 hurries.
In terms of volume, Suh has the edge. He also has played nearly 30 percent more pass-rushing snaps. Injuries could explain some of that difference, but so, too, could score margin. Since 2010, the Bucs have the second-worst score margin through three quarters (they’ve been outscored by 642 points; the Raiders have been outscored by 659). What happens when a team has a lead in the fourth quarter? They run the ball to drain the clock. In other words, Suh has had more pass-rushing opportunities late in games simply by virtue of not playing for the almost always losing Bucs.
Once we consider the difference in snaps, the edge shifts to McCoy. He has recorded a pressure on 11.5 percent of his pass-rushing snaps in the fourth quarter and overtime. Suh has recorded a pressure on 10.4 percent of his pass-rushing snaps.
These numbers tell us a couple of things: 1.) McCoy was indeed disruptive late in games, more so than most of the players at his position. That should no longer be up for debate. 2.) If you weren’t wowed by McCoy in the fourth quarter, you probably won’t be wowed by Suh, either.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at email@example.com. Follow @tometrics.