You knew it wouldn't take long for Gerald McCoy to get back in front of the media. Sure, some might think he's "owning up" by facing the media, but as it's been pointed out for years, McCoy might be more focused on his image and popularity over anything else.
Let's start with some facts. Gerald McCoy has been the invisible man over the last three games in the Bucs defense. In those games, he has totaled 3 tackles and ZERO sacks. Hell, I don't even remember a big play he had. As a matter of fact, when was the last time you saw a super-human play by McCoy?
“Yes, I had an injury Week 2 and since then I’ve been limited," McCoy said. "But, hey, it doesn’t matter.”
He's right, it doesn't matter. I guarantee not one player in the NFL is playing at 100% right now. Along those same lines, we never hear about McCoy's "injury" unless he doesn't make a play in a game, then it's, "I have an injury but I'm not using it as an excuse." Please.
The only difference between McCoy over the past three games and McCoy before is that he's just not getting his late first quarter or 2nd quarter sack. He's always been a decent player, but he's never been great or elite. He's never taken over any game. There are also very important people within the Buccaneers facility that have taken notice of McCoy's disappearing act in crunch time of games.
"With the success I’ve had in past years, I’m going to draw a lot of attention," McCoy said "You just have to learn how to play through that, find different ways to get open and produce."
"The reality is, week-in and week-out, I’m going to get the most attention up front. That’s just the reality. But I just have to find different ways to free myself up. Sometimes it looks like I have a one-on-one, and then there’s a running back waiting, or this guy, that guy. But the reality is, I need to be better. I’m doing everything in my power as far as throughout the week watching more film, at practice, whatever it is. I’m working on figuring it out.”
The actual reality is that ALL defensive tackles get double teamed, and McCoy is no different than anyone else. It's a sheer numbers game. You typically have two defensive tackles in a 4-3 defense going up against two guards and a center. On a majority of plays, one of the defensive tackles HAS to get double teamed. The fact is that the very good/great/elite defensive tackles win those battles, the rest do not. Gerald McCoy is in the latter group.
We have seen this frustration start to build up over recent weeks with McCoy. He is not a person who handles criticism well, but when you sign a $95 million contract, you have to take the bad with the good...especially when you are not coming anywhere close to playing up to that contract.
I believe a large part of McCoy's frustration is actually coming off the field. It is my opinion that his teammates are starting to tune out his "gimmick" and starting to gravitate to the real leader in the locker room, Jameis Winston. Remember what I said about McCoy's main focus being his image and popularity? Well, that popularity is taking bigger hits on a weekly basis with the success and emergence of Jameis Winston. I don't think McCoy can handle it.
“If I’m going to be the guy, I have to be the guy week-in and week-out," McCoy said. "I can’t have ups and downs. I’m not allowed to; it’s just what comes with it. I can accept that, I don’t mind that. Put the team on my back and let’s go. That’s who I am.”
Unfortunately, the best thing for this team is for them to be as far away from McCoy's back as possible. He is not the face of the franchise, and he is not the leader anymore. The players know this, General Manager Jason Licht knows this, and on up the totem pole at One Buc Place know this. It's about time that McCoy figures this out for himself and takes a backseat to Jameis Winston, instead of trying to hold Winston back. If he doesn't, he may have to realize it with another organization.