Gerald McCoy has been one of the best players in the NFL for the past three seasons, but there’s still room to grow for the Buccaneers’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
On Thursday defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier talked about the impact McCoy has on the team. While he called him “the best three-technique in the NFL,” Frazier said there’s one more step McCoy could take to make Tampa Bay a top defense. And that’s to force turnovers.
“I know he’s been focused on, in training camp and OTAs, coming up with those sack-fumbles – coming up with that game-changing takeaway,” Frazier said. “If that can happen and we can get multiple numbers in that area, it would take his game to another level and take our defense to another level. We know what takeaways do for the team, so to get that would be big for us. He’s going to be great against the run. He’s still going to win against most guards if they try to block him one-on-one. Now, once he gets back there and has the quarterback in his grasps, can he get the football out?”
McCoy is a dominant force inside collapsing pockets and, along with sacks, the Bucs want that to translate into turnovers.
McCoy took the podium moments later and echoed Frazier’s statements, using an example from the past to stress the importance of a sack-fumble.
“It’s called impact sacks,” McCoy said. “Getting a sack is great. Getting him on the ground is wonderful, but our job defensively is to score and get the ball back. And coach [Joe] Cullen always talks about impact sacks –sacks that can change the game. I had one last year against Chicago; I got a sack fumble and we get the ball and we get points out of that.”
McCoy isn’t just putting it on himself. The Bucs need all 11 players on defense to capitalize and get the ball back to Jameis Winston and the offense.
“Those are the type of plays that need to happen and not just from me, but from the defense in general,” McCoy said. “Just getting the ball back for our offense and scoring. We have a great young quarterback who’s a playmaker. If you put the ball in his hands, he can make some plays. So any opportunity you can to get the ball back to the quarterback or take it away from the offense, you want to do it.”