Gerald McCoy had himself a Sunday
Gerald McCoy has been much maligned in some circles for a lack of production in the 4th quarter. On Sunday, he took a large step towards shedding that monkey from his back, and proved once again why he’s one of the all-time great Buccaneer players.
There were quite a few Buccaneers worthy of celebrating following the teams’ win against the Falcons on Sunday. Kwon Alexander had 17 tackles, Jameis Winston had four touchdowns, Charles Sims juked the entire Falcon defense, some fans, a beer vendor, and the mascot. However, it was Gerald McCoy who made the play, and put the game on ice.
McCoy’s ability to come up big in the fourth quarter has been put into question countless times over the last few seasons. While it may seem like a petty complaint, the raw numbers do indeed suggest that McCoy gets fewer sacks in the second half than in the first. What Gerald McCoy proved both last season in Atlanta and on Sunday is that defensive linemen can impact games in more ways than just sacks.
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Last season in Atlanta with time running out and a meager lead, McCoy fought through the offensive line and wrapped up Matt Ryan‘s legs, keeping him from stepping up or throwing accurately. The ball fell helplessly to the ground, and the Bucs won. On Sunday, McCoy crashed into a double team from left guard Chris Chester and center Alex Mack and, while unable to pressure Ryan, got his hands up and tipped his pass. Once again, the ball fell helplessly to the ground, and the Bucs won.
McCoy was not only clutch to finish the game, but also consistent from the start of the game, constantly showing off his trademarked blinding speed off the snap. Altogether he paired his game-ending tipped pass with another earlier one, sacked Matt Ryan once, and had a tackle-for-loss. Pro Football Focus graded McCoy’s performance the second best among defensive tackles in the league this week, for those interested in that type of thing. It was the type of performance that the fans and front office envisioned when they locked up their defensive captain to the tune of $100 million dollars.
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For the time being (knock on wood) it appears that McCoy’s two biggest issues are no longer such. For one, he’s healthy and not dealing with any nagging injuries from the off-season. Secondly, he’s got a talented and hungry supporting cast across the defensive line; McCoy will no longer be counted on to make every play for the defensive line and his big plays throughout the game will equate to more wins. McCoy appears perfectly positioned for a great 2016 season and he started it off the right way against the Falcons.