Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is largely considered one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. His reputation is well deserved as he’s tallied at least five sacks per year since 2012 and has made the Pro Bowl in each of those as well.
McCoy is steadily becoming one of the greatest Tampa Bay Buccaneers in history. However, among his Pro Bowl selections, first-team All-Pro selection, and five straight years appearing on the NFL Top-100 (a streak which may be broken this year) he’s missing something: Super Bowl contention.
See, in order to be a champion, you have to be in contention. While every team may start the year equal, only twelve earn the distinction of being championship contenders.
The Bucs have yet to be a contender with McCoy on the roster. Now, this isn’t all his fault of course, and if anything, he’s been one of the few consistent reasons fans keep coming back year after year.
Even if we don’t get to witness a bunch of wins, at least we have one of the best playing the game calling our team his.
Small consolation for some, but it’s all we’ve had for a while now. This is all – hopefully – going to change.
The NFL is a copycat league. And when teams look across the landscape of champions and championship contenders, they try and glean whatever information they can to help their own franchise steer into competitive waters.
Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not only looked to copy some championship tricks for 2018, they’ve hijacked the very guys it took to do it.
Some contend the secondary was the worst unit on the field in 2017. I disagree. For me, it was the defensive line. Whether it be through injury, busted signings or a combination of those the group underperformed.
Even McCoy himself had his lowest sack total since 2012-13, the first year he made the Pro Bowl and the NFL Top-100 list.
Facing a nearly complete overhaul of his defensive front, Jason Licht didn’t just look to steal championship ideas. He stole Champions and Contenders.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry and Beau Allen are all Super Bowl Champions. The last two coming fresh off their championship run with the Philadelphia Eagles. JPP got his with the Giants as part of the defense which held Tom Brady and Randy Moss under 20 points.
It was just the second time in the team’s dynastic run they’ve been held under 20. The other also came to the Giants.
But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t stop there. Hunger for championships is just as important as having been to the peak of NFL competition.
Unrein was a Broncos player in the Super Bowl where the Seattle Seahawks thoroughly embarrassed Peyton Manning and company. Think he wants some redemption? I’d think so.
Buckner’s Super Bowl experience spans both conferences. He made it first as a Pittsburgh Steelers defender and then later as a member of the hated Carolina Panthers.
He lost both times. All five men have been there before. Three know how sweet the spoils of Super Bowl success taste. The other two know how it feels to come so close only to be turned away at the summit.
All five undoubtedly want to get there again. Gerald McCoy undoubtedly wants to get there, period.
With the addition of these players and this coach, it may be the best chance McCoy has of experiencing post-season football, and ironically comes with a unit he has to carry less weight for.
He said it himself,
"“The great thing about the guys that we brought in, they all – except for Vita since he came out of college – all of them have been to the Super Bowl….They know what it is to be accountable. That’s why I haven’t had to do much up front with the D-line, because we brought in guys that know what that’s like.”"
If McCoy can truly focus on his own game without having to worry about whether or not the guy next to him is going to put in maximum effort, then we may see a re-birth of sorts.
Scary really, considering he’s already playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Bottom line is, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers identified this off-season they just didn’t have championship pieces lining up in their defensive front, so they went out and got some.
Here’s hoping it works.