Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Leading the Bucs in sacks the last three years isn’t enough for some.
Being a Pro Bowler the last four seasons isn’t impressive enough for some.
Even being named first-team All-Pro three years in a row still isn’t enough for some.
For a small segment of Bucs fans, short of breaking the NFL record for sacks in a season, leading his team to an undefeated Super Bowl win, and rescuing 15 tourists caught in a riptide off St. Pete Beach, Gerald McCoy will never satisfy his harshest critics. And even then there would be a few who wondered why he didn’t do more more.
A majority of Bucs fans know McCoy does plenty on the field that warrants praise, and most would say he is easily a Top 5 defensive tackle, if not even higher. But it is the little things behind the scenes that most fans don’t get a chance to see that impresses his teammates the most.
On Monday, several minutes after practice, while head coach Dirk Koetter was wrapping up his press conference with the media, I glanced across the practice field and saw a handful of players working underneath the goalposts. Leading the impromptu post-practice drill was none other than No. 93.
Rookie offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch was one of those invited to participate and told me later he has been blown away with McCoy’s willingness to help the young players on the Bucs roster.
“He is a great leader and a great football player,” Benenoch said. “One of the things I love about him him is he takes so much pride in making the players round him better. Not just on defense, but on offense also. You know he called me aside, and called Josh (Allen) aside and wanted us to get extra work. And then we are getting better in the same process as well. It is amazing. A lot of guys aren’t like that. He goes out of his way to help other people. So it it is great to have him work with me.”
Veteran defensive tackle Akeem Spence said he sees it all the time, and gets the privilege to be part of McCoy’s tutelage.
“He takes time out of his day to help Caleb work on his punch, and other guys as well. Like Channing (Ward) and Lambert all through camp, after practice, help them work on their hands, getting off the ball and such,” Spence said. “That just helps this team with the growth of the young players. From the weakest to the top. He still works with me, and Will (Gholston) pick things up from him all the time. He is a great leader and this is what this team needs.
“Most fans just know him for the great football player that he is, but for him to be great he wants the players around him to be better as well. That is just a credit to him. He has worked with me and Will and all the young guys. He does a lot. He does a lot that people don’t realize, and that’s what makes him the leader that he is.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
It’s always been amusing to me how folks criticize one of our best players because he smiles and is willing to talk to the media when approached. Others have been intolerant of him getting injured , even cited his play as disappointing when he attempted to play at less than full strength, to help his team. Gerald is a nice man who is similar in many ways to #63. My fellow old schoolers should remember how we wondered how good Lee Roy would be if he ever got angry. He and Gerald are who they are and need not apologize for it. If and when the team around him reaches his stature and the result is wins, it will be Gerald who deserves our apology.
We have a rather peculiar species of player haters here in Bucs fandom. I don’t know if it’s replicated with other NFL fan bases or not (I don’t hang out on other team sites). But there’s a small but extremely vocal group of players here who are intent on finding fault with players who don’t measure up to their peculiarly high and irrational standards of performance. These are the amateur scapegoaters, and they love to dis on Gerald McCoy for daring to be a quiet leader and playing while injured(???) and on Doug Martin just for getting injured. Never mind that both players make their living in the trenches fighting off 350 pound offensive linemen, which is about a violent a jobsite environment one can find outside of war.
Whenever either of these guys is having a good streak of games, the scapegoaters pipe down, but like weed seeds awaiting the next rainfall, they suddenly pop up like dandelions all over the yard the instant either guy has a down day or injury-caused reduction in performance. One loudmouthed dude on another Bucs board regularly proclaimed that Gerald McCoy was a “cancer in the lockerroom” whom all his teammates detested. Others here routinely claim that Doug Martin only performs during a “contract year”, without caring, of course, that all of the years are contract years for short-lived NFL running backs who rarely get beyond 3-5 years in the league with their bodies intact. As if the scapegoating internet armchair heroes could even survive a single NFL practice session without claiming permanent disability.
In any case, I love to see the lie put to the BSing scapegoaters as in this post. Gerald is indeed much appreciated by his teammates, his coaches, and more than likely a huge majority of the fans.
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