Since Ronde Barber passed the torch to Gerald McCoy as the new leader of the Bucs defense in 2013, there hasn’t really been an accomplished veteran, known to be a team-first guy, for McCoy to rely on over the last three years.
Now there is.
When Tampa Bay signed linebacker Daryl Smith in March, not only did they get a Pro Bowler who has started 172 games over 12 seasons, but also a player who spent his first four years in the NFL playing under defensive coordinator Mike Smith in Jacksonville.
So while McCoy, the longest tenured Bucs player on defense, said he’ll always “be the guy” for young defenders to seek advice from, it’s nice to have more than one experienced pro on the unit – especially if McCoy himself needs guidance.
“Having more vets instead of just being the one … having more people to go to (is good), even for me, because Daryl Smith is like 100 years old,” McCoy said. “I can go to him. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s been in this defense before. He’s really really big for us.”
After starting his career in a similar defense – Mike Smith’s made a few tweaks since 2007 – Daryl Smith left for Baltimore in 2013 and had three of his best years statistically before arriving in Tampa Bay. At 34, he gets a few more veteran days off than most, but the former Jaguar and Raven hasn’t shown any decline on the field.
Still, despite starting his last 50 games and amassing over 370 tackles and eight sacks, Smith won’t be able to escape the old man jokes in Tampa Bay. Not even from one of the guys closest to him in age.
“I was talking to him and I didn’t know when he got drafted,” McCoy, 28, said. “So I asked, ‘Hey man, when did you get drafted?’ He said, ‘I was in Eli Manning’s class (’04).’ I was like, ‘God dang (laughs), you were drafted with Eli Manning? Why are you still here?’
“He’s got a lot of experience. Great guy, nice guy, carries himself like a vet, does everything like a vet and willing to help anybody who asks.”
To read more about Daryl Smith’s experience and how Mike Smith plans on using the Sam linebacker, with comments Dirk Koetter, both Smiths and fellow linebackers, read it here in Fab 2 of SR’s latest Fab 5.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The team has so many Smith’s they get confusing…
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