Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says he and his teammates are buying into head coach Greg Schiano's new system and will reap the rewards of success if they continue to do so. McCoy also says his injury history won't affect his play on the field or his technique.
Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the former overall No. 3 selection in the 2010 draft, knows the key to improving the league’s worst defense will start with the play of the defensive line, including keeping him and his linemates healthy. McCoy talked to the media following Wednesday’s second day of mandatory mini-camp and gave his thoughts on what is needed to turn the Tampa Bay defense around.
“If we can all stay on the field – when we are all out there – we are trouble,” McCoy said. “When everybody plays together and when everyone isn’t playing individualized and not playing for themselves [we're good].
“Coach Schiano says the sooner we buy in, the sooner we will win. Well, if our whole defensive line buys into the system and the program that you go where you are supposed to go – even though it feels uncomfortable – it will all work. There will be enough plays to go around for everybody to make. If everybody buys in – which we are doing – then we will make the right strides, and we have been doing that.”
McCoy is entering his third year in the league, but due to injuries he has played basically just the equivalent of one full season (19 games). With two torn biceps in two seasons, some have wondered if the fear of injury could make McCoy more timid or change the way he plays football. McCoy scoffed at that notion.
“That will make me play harder,” McCoy said. “People get injured when they slow down. If you are going full speed you don’t usually get hurt. So to prevent injuries you have to go harder. That’s enough motivation. Two injuries in back-to-back years? It’s motivation to finish a full season.”
McCoy, who has recorded 56 career tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles, went onto to explain the circumstances behind the injuries.
“Those are all freak accidents,” McCoy said. “I think it was interpreted wrong how everybody took it – me reaching out to make a tackle or whatever. Most people don’t realize that as a defensive tackle, it is rare where you are going to come freely like a linebacker will. So you try and get a hand out to slow them down so your guys can come up. That’s all I was doing.
“The last time (against the Saints in 2011) our new Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks was pulling, I threw him past and there is the running back. I’m either going to jump out of the way or try and slow him down. Well, I tried to slow him down. I don’t think I slowed him down that much, but it is just me playing hard. I don’t have to change my technique.”
The 2011 Buccaneers defense was the NFL’s worst statistically, and after surrendering 494 points, it was the worst in franchise history. McCoy talked about how the getting back to basics and fundamentals should help him and the entire defense improve on last season’s dismal performance.
“The one thing I will say is with Coach Schiano is that we do a tackling circuit before every practice,” McCoy said. “I have never done anything like that. So it is teaching me how to tackle. (In the past) I was just playing football. Him putting us through the tackling circuit is really helping.”
McCoy seems to be enjoying playing under Schiano’s new “attention to detail” system.
“He said if anything, we are going to be the most football-smart team,” McCoy said. “Everybody wants to talk about football smarts, but he is actually teaching us the game of football and how to play it. If all else fails and you can’t do it – you are at least going to know how
to do it. He is making us a smart football team because smart football teams win those championships. That is what he is turning is into.”
When asked if he was ready for some good luck in referencing his injury-plagued NFL career, McCoy told the media he doesn’t believe in luck – good or bad – and puts his trust in a higher power.
“Man, I am just going at it full steam ahead. That’s all I am doing,” McCoy said. “Whatever is behind me is behind me; all I can see is the future. Whatever comes my way I will attack it full steam ahead.”
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