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November 22, 2010 @ 5:36 pm
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McCoy, Defense Hitting Stride At Right Time

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense is coming off easily their best performance of the season. Rookie Gerald McCoy recorded his first NFL sack and, like the rest of the defense, seems to be coming on at the right time.

It’s been 16 games since Raheem Morris took over the defensive play-calling duties last year. The Bucs are 9-7 in that span and Morris has the Bucs defense firing on all cylinders at just the right moment as the team in trying to make the playoff for the first time since 2007. Since their 27-21 loss to Atlanta three weeks ago, the Buccaneers have allowed just 16 points the last two games, and recorded their first shutout victory since 2004 when they blanked the 49ers 21-0 on Sunday.

“It was nice. It was my first shutout, those are hard to get,” said middle linebacker Barrett Ruud. “They are nice to have, and we are going to enjoy it for a day or two, and then move on to the next game.”

“A complete game is what we need to play. Not so much the yards or a shutout even but playing 60 minutes mistake free was what we needed to do. Before we played really well on defense but we gave up a few plays here and there. When you do that in the NFL they end up being touchdowns. Just playing for 60 minutes was the biggest thing for us I think.”

The Buccaneers defense allowed 189 total yards against the 49ers. San Francisco ran for 71 yards and threw for 118 yards. Like their game against the Panthers two weeks ago, the Bucs jumped out to an early lead, which benefitted the defense. The defensive line was able to pin their ears back with the 49ers being forced to throw and they brought down quarterback Troy Smith six times. The defense also created some turnovers with a forced fumble and an interception.

“Coach Morris was talking about playing more consistent because for some reason we weren’t starting games the way we wanted to in the early part of the season,” said free safety Cody Grimm, who’s seven tackles led the Bucs on Sunday. “But in the last two weeks we got out early and it really opens things up defensively so you can get a little more risky than you usually do.”


After 10 weeks, the Buccaneers have the 16th rated defense in the NFL. The Bucs have the sixth rated pass defense and are tied for second in the league with 15 interceptions. Tampa Bay has the 29th rated run defense, giving up 136.5 yards per game on the ground. After the six sacks yesterday, the Bucs now have 14 for the season. 


The play of the defense in recent weeks has really inspired the offense. Center Jeff Faine explained how the tremendous play from the defense in recent weeks has translated into the offense being able to stay balanced in their attack.  

“It’s huge, huge,” said Faine. “The old adage is that defense wins championships and I really believe that, especially if you have to go on the road and play in some hostile environments. For us to have the ability to stick with the run means our defense is playing well because we are still in games. When our defense is playing well we are able to have the best balance on offense so it’s really just a whole team picture. It all works together.”

Tampa Bay’s defense has improved drastically from 2009. Last year the Bucs had the 27th ranked defense and the 32nd rated run defense, while allowing 158 yards per game on the ground.

One of the major reasons the defense has been much improved lately has been the play of rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. The first-round pick struggled early in the season, but has played extremely well in the last two Tampa Bay victories. Ruud noticed a dramatic rise in McCoy’s play in recent weeks and thinks the rookie is more comfortable now.

“Yeah he does [look more comfortable]. I think he probably was a little bit before too worried about being right all the time, being in the right spot, and the right gap,” said Ruud. “Obviously we put a big emphasis on that in our defense, but a three technique above all is a disruptor. I think that is the thing he kind of took to heart. He’s still trying and wanting to be right every time as far as responsibility. More than anything if you get up and disrupt something between the B-gap and the A-gap if it is two yards in the backfield it doesn’t matter. That is the thing I think he got the most comfortable with. He knows he’s not always going to be perfect. He just knows he is going to play with more reckless abandon.”

McCoy recorded one full sack on Sunday after he brought down Smith twice with a fellow teammate. He now has one sack, eight tackles, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble, and three passes defensed in the last two games. Morris was pleased with what he saw from the third-overall pick against San Francisco.

“McCoy was the key instigator for a lot of plays yesterday,” said Morris. “A lot of his plays don’t show up on stat sheets. But even when was playing decent at the beginning of the season, but you couldn’t see it… when he plays like he did yesterday – being active, shedding tackles, and making plays – then it starts to really show, and then you start to notice all the little things that are happening.”

When asked why McCoy has been able to be so disruptive the last few games, Morris had a simple answer.

“He is just getting better. That is the natural progression of a young defensive player,” said Morris. “It’s beautiful to see.”

~ by Wolf Heard and Charlie Campbell

Last modified on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 12:23
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    If McCoy can have a respectable 6 games at the close of the season the first 9 games will be forgotten. He looks like he is getting it figured out. Let's hope so as a playoff run is not possible without a stout defense.
  • avatar

    The thing we didn't have in the first 8 games was a running game. Either because the defense was putting us in a hole and we had to pass or couldn't run the ball. Over the last two games the defense has stepped up and the offensive line has finally found their sacs and have manned up. Finally openning some running lanes. All 3 backs have ripped off some big runs and now that Ollie is using the wild cat just another wrinkle in this developing offense. The biggest difference between us and all the loser teams from last year is we're getting better. The other ones acted like they were but then went back to their old ways. Watchman is kind of right but its up to the Bucs to prove him and all the other people wrong who still don't believe that the Bucs are starting to be the real deal. Even if they don't win against the Ravens, Falcons and Saints if they play them close like the first Falcons game and don't get blown out people will have to start believing because they will handle the Skins, Seahawks and Lions so going 3-3 down the stretch which will still put them at 10-6. Only bad thing is to make the playoffs they will have to beat the Saints and the Falcons because its guaranteed they will! Have faith Bucs fans Raheem Morris is th truth best believe that!
  • avatar

    Freeman beat the packers last yr in his first game. I think we can do the same in Balitimore but it will take a great game all round from both sides of the ball. Freeman will have to be cool under pressure and we know there will be lots of pressure. Blount will have to find the holes and really run over people like he has been doing. The Defense will have to have a great game as well.Cmon Bucs I might have to break out a bottle of champagne if we hit eight wins
  • avatar

    watchman: how many times does Raheem have to say it... Stats are for losers!
  • avatar

    Watchman: we were one yard away from beating that 7th ranked offense and im sure this team is looking forward to the rematch. Besides we are growing both offensively and defensively. We are the youngest team in the NFL and are playing great football . We don't have to be a top 5 defense when we have an offense that can score and protect the ball. Also, check out the stats for the year in the second half. We are pretty damn good. What a negative *censored* you are. This team is exceeding all early predictions and I like what i see. We are a team. Which is not what most other teams are in the NFL. That gives an advantage no matter who we play.
  • avatar

    Don't forget that this was Freemans first game playing in San Fran and left out with a win. They're going to be hard pressed but I believe they can do it. Bottle up Rice and put pressure on Flacco they have a good chance.
  • avatar


    Watchman: Thanks for taking the air out of my sails with your pithy statisitics. However, what you are missing is that the defense didn't play like this against vastly inferior teams earlier this season. The point is - focus on the improvement. There guys haven't hit the wall yet. They endured horrible losses to PIT and NO and then, for some reason, actually gave Atlanta all it could take and almost stole the game. This team is improving in every area and the results are continued success. They don't know how to give up and for this I love them!
  • avatar


    Watchman: Thanks for taking the air out of my sails with your pithy statisitics. However, what you are missing is that the defense didn't play like this against vastly inferior teams earlier this season. The point is - focus on tne improvement. There guys haven't hit the wall yet. They endured horrible losses to PIT and NO and then, for some reason, actually gave Atlanta all it could take and almost stole the game. This team is improving in every area and the results are continued success. They don't know how to give up and for this I love them!
  • avatar

    I like the way McCoy is developing, it may not be what fans want looking at Suh who has come along quickly, but I feel McCoy will have the better career as he learns the defense and how to handle himself in the NFL. I'd say soon he'll be logging himself in as one of those Legendary Buc's that go down in our history.
  • avatar

    I would not say he will have a better career, SUH is a once in a generation type guy, but McCoy is coming along just fine for a rookie DT. Get a dominant edge rusher on the line with him and next year could be great.
  • avatar

    Since losing to ATL the Bucs have faced the leagues worst offense (Carolina) and the 25th ranked offense (49ers). The D has played great the past two games, but let's not get carried away. The 12th ranked offense and 7th ranked offense are on the schedule the next two weeks.
  • avatar

    I agree but it is good for the young defense and team to play that well, regardless of who it is against. Personally, I am sick of people saying.... YEA, BUT LOOK WHO THEY PLAYED!!! Those are the same people who could not fathom them winning more than 4 games this year. It is the NFL: a win is a win. They are beating bad teams and average teams. The got beat bad by the defending SB champion and a SB contender in the Steelers. They were 1 yeard away from beating ATL, the team most think is the best in the NFC right now. They are doing it with a TON of rookies and second year guys... THIS IS AWESOME!!! I am drooling thinking about how they can progress over the next 2 years. The offense might be real special. The defense needs a DE beast of a pass rusher and a Run Stuffer at LB. There are other holes, but those two thing and time is all this team needs to be a SB contender for years.
  • avatar


    Geez, don't you get it yet, the Bucs don't care who you are, what your record is, what your stats say, or even if they lost the last game, they just believe they can win the next game and play that way on Sunday. They like being disrespected and if you don't bring it for 60 minutes, the Bucs own you!
  • avatar

    It was nice to see the defense play well vs the 9ers but i still think that the d-line is one of our weakest areas. I would love to see us trade up for Da'Quan Bowers or Robert Quinn. I really like Da'Quan Bowers tho: 58 Tackles, 16 sacks, 1 INT, FF. He has a sack in every game excpet for one game. 6'4" 275 pounds but needs to gain some weight to get maybe to 285-290. If we cant trade up I would love for us to draft a CB. Brandon Harris (CB Canes) or Travis Lewis (OLB/MLB Oklahoma).
  • avatar

    There is no doubt that DE is the number 1 priority. I love Quinn and think he will drop to round 2 simply because he has not played all year. I say they take a big time DE in round 1 and then a MLB or Safety (Duenta Williams) in round 2 UNLESS Quinn is available. If he is, double up at De like they did at DT last year.
  • avatar


    Okay the test is starting now. These next two games will be tough. I hope this just the start of McCoy getting better. Go Bucs! One win at a time!
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