NFL NEWS: Gerald McCoy
When Gerald McCoy was picked third overall in the 2010 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hope was he turn out as dominant as Warren Sapp.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) July 27, 2014
How does McCoy stack up to the Hall of Famer entering his fifth year? First, let’s get the formalities out of the way.
McCoy was drafted by head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik, but was limited to 19 games in two seasons due to injuries. Morris personally oversaw the defense. McCoy had four sacks, 39 combined tackles and four passes defended. Morris was fired after the 2011 season and Greg Schiano was brought on board with Bill Sheridan as defensive coordinator.
McCoy played his first two full seasons under Schiano improving with 14 sacks, 80 combined tackles, and six passes defended. He ended up making the Pro Bowl in both seasons. With Schiano gone, McCoy now has his third head coach in Lovie Smith (and GM Jason Licht) going into his fifth year.
How did Sapp fare his first four seasons?
The Bucs picked Sapp 12th overall in the 1995 NFL Draft by head coach Sam Wyche and general manager Rich McKay. Sapp’s rookie season netted three sacks, 26 combined tackles and five passes defended. When Wyche was fired, Tony Dungy was hired in 1996 to take over duties bringing Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator, thus began as we may call the team’s golden age. Smith was the team’s linebackers coach from 1996-2000.
Sapp only missed two games the next three years where he amassed 153 combined tackles, 26.5 sacks and nine passes defended. Sapp was selected into the Pro Bowl in the 1997-98 seasons.
While it wouldn’t be fair to compare McCoy’s first two seasons to Sapp’s first two, let’s compare their third and fourth seasons. Sapp was still more productive in the position by 22 combined tackles and 3.5 sacks. McCoy edges Sapp 6-4 with passes defended in that span.
The 2013 Bucs finished 17th against the pass and 15th against the run. That’s likely to change with Smith bringing in Leslie Frazier, the former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, to run the defense. During Frazier’s seven seasons with the Vikings, the Vikings recorded 297 sacks and 114 fumbles, which ranks no. 1 and 2, respectively in the NFL during that span. Frazier also was part of Dungy’s staff as assistant head coach/defensive backs coach during the Indianapolis Colts 2006 Super Bowl Championship team. Frazier adds defensive credibility to the team not seen since the heydays of the Tampa 2.
What did Sapp do his fifth year in the league? He recorded 12.5 sacks, forced a career-high four fumbles, and four passes defended. Sounds easy enough for McCoy, right?