Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Which I Totally Disagree With Coach Morris On Gerald McCoy

Someone, I think it was Roy Cummings but I can't be sure, finally asked Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris about the possible negative effects of moving Gerald McCoy around so much on his development as an undertackle. I'm not big on transcription but you can look at the video for yourself here (unfortunately the Bucs don't provide embed clips) and the guys over at Pewter Report did a partial here which I will be excerpting.

Here are the relevant parts of his answer.

“I think it helps him because they can’t find him a little bit,” said Morris. “It helps to get him in different spots where he is able to make disruptive plays. He has two tackles for a loss and a bunch of tackles for us. The sacks will come; we just have to continue to rush. … So we’ll do some different things up there and search for different answers.

First off no offense to Gerald McCoy but at this point he hasn't done anything that would warrant opposing offenses looking for him pre snap. I've watched all the games and as of yet nobody has broken their regular protection rules to try to double team him. Any time he has faced a double team in pass protection it was because he was lined up to the side the offense would normally slide the center regardless of whom was there. And the fact of the matter is in the kind of defense that Tampa runs there is no more disruptive place to play than the undertackle position.

Understand that for me this isn't about sacks. I know that sacks come in bunches as long as you are rushing well. The problem is from my perspective McCoy's pass rush has regressed each week so far. He went from making some really good moves against the Browns to trying to run right down the middle of guys in the Steelers game. But that's what happens when one play the guy is rushing a guard and the next play he's rushing an offensive tackle or maybe even a tight end. Its a whole different ball game rushing from inside or outside and McCoy is still trying to learn how to rush from there on the NFL level. Asking him to try to do both isn't helping him in any sense of the word and it certainly isn't hiding him.

I'll have some fun with the next quote.

“Yeah, it is helping him because he is flushing guys out and Quincy (Black) is capping guys off,” said Morris. “It’s not about the sack numbers. It’s did you affect the quarterback’s throw? Were you able to knock the pass down? Did you make the quarterback run outside the pocket so that he couldn’t see his wide open receiver? All those things happen when you talk about one-on-one rush. But the sacks will come.”

First off one of the things that was frustrating about watching and listening to this exchange was that Coach Morris focused almost solely on the times when McCoy is lined up at end in a 3-3-5 and Quincy Black rushed on McCoy's side. Well in the first three games McCoy has ALSO played defensive end in our regular 4-3 alignment when opposing offenses have put in heavy personnel like two tight ends with or without a fullback. And as I said in my Bull Rush column, you can't tell me that we don't have other defensive ends who could hold up just as fine in that situation while allowing McCoy to stay at undertackle where he is needed.

Also even when we do run the 3-3-5 personnel Quincy Black doesn't always pass rush and even when he does he doesn't always pass rush to McCoy's side. If you listen to the presser Coach Morris almost makes it sound as if Black is leading the league in sacks or something. The sack he notched against the Panthers was impressive but it was off a pass rush game. It wasn't because McCoy flushed the quarterback. He rushed the double team well I'll give him that but had Kyle Moore, Tim Crowder or any other defensive end been over there they would have also been double teamed. Hell Black rushed on Stylez White's side against the Steelers and White got double teamed in exactly the same fashion. As for me I don't remind the occasional Redskin call with Black coming. But what about the times we run Redskin and he DOESN'T come?

Has anyone seen Gerald McCoy get a pressure rushing as a defensive end with a 3 man rush out of Redskin?

I know haven't.

Oh and to answer those questions Coach Morris asked, no, no and no.

I don't get to watch the coaches film unfortunately so I can't see all the angles of every play. But even from the TV copy or watching it online its apparent that McCoy's rush went backwards the last two game a little bit more each week. That's not a hypothetical, that's a fact.

Now we come to the most revealing part of what Coach Morris had to say and also where he and I have the biggest disagreement.
“If I was thinking selfishly for McCoy, I probably would say, ‘Yes,’ but thinking selfishly for a defensive standpoint, that makes us better,” Morris said. “If he was a selfish player he would come to me and say, ‘Hey just leave me at this one position so I can get better at it,’ but does not have that in him. Our defense needs him to move around to be productive and be smart, and be sharp, and be wise beyond his years so to speak..."

It is with that opening line that Coach Morris admits that, yes the moving around IS stunting Gerald McCoy's development at undertackle. He does it under the cloak of "selfishness" but he admits it nonetheless. And that's where the rest of what he says becomes moot to me.

I've seen what a disruptive undertackle can do in this scheme. I played with probably the best undertackle that has ever played the game in Warren Sapp (who oh by the way agrees with me). And if its not him then I watched film on the only other guy that could give him a serious run for his money in recent Hall of Fame inductee John Randall. I'm not saying Gerald McCoy will ever become either of those guys, but if he is at least a reasonable facsimile he can wreak enough havoc from just that one position to make everyone and I do mean EVERYONE around him better. A good to great undertackle can be the force element of a defense versus running plays to his side. A good to great undertackle can force so much attention upon himself that the three other defensive linemen all end up with one on one opportunities. A good to great undertackle can allow a defensive coordinator to have a much smaller playbook because they bring so much pressure on any given play that there isn't much of a need to blitz, especially in 2 minute situations.

But McCoy will either take longer or never develop into a good to great undertackle if he is also trying to be a decent defensive end on either side as well as part time nose tackle as well. It's just not going to happen.

And the reason why I'm being so vocal about this is because it reminds me so much of the way Gaines Adams was mishandled may he rest in peace. I don't care who I piss off I'm going to keep talking about it either until it changes or the season ends. I may end up looking like Ahab screaming at the sea but I really don't care. I know what kind of undertackle Gerald McCoy can be. I watched him in college, I saw him in the preseason and I saw glimpses in the first game against Cleveland. Its not selfish to want to see more of that, its smart. You don't draft a guy number 3 to be a utility man, you draft a guy that high to be a dominant force AT ONE POSITION.

Maybe in 3 years when McCoy has established himself and has some game experience under his belt he will be able to dabble a little more at end keep his productivity up at undertackle but I don't see it happening as a rookie. And the thing of it is the defense doesn't "need" him to move around. That's just not true. We have enough talent on our defense to not have to use gimmicks and trickem dickem stuff. That defense can line up and whup people's ass if they are put in a position to do so. Last year I could understand trying to fool people to victory but not now. Not with the talent we have on this defense.

I don't know how McCoy feels about this because I haven't talked to him nor have I talked to anyone close to him about it but like I always say I go by my experience and by what my eyes tell me. You will never get me to believe that making McCoy a jack of all trades but master of none helps him or our defense overall. If the implication is there are holes at other spots that need to be filled then as Eddie Robinson is quoted as saying "Get a player better, or get a better player!" but don't use that as an excuse to have smoke coming out of McCoy's ears with little to no benefit to show for it.

In closing I would like to give props to whomever asked the question today. I get on the media at times when I think they have done something wrong but I will also show love when they get it right. That was the most astute question I have heard so far in all of Coach Morris' press conferences since the regular season started and if nothing else now more people will be watching to see how this all plays out and that is a good thing.  On another note it was also good to hear Coach Morris mention Michael Bennett as a guy they might take a look at to upgrade the pass rush. Why it has taken 3 games is anybody's guess. But hey, its a start at least.

Now if only somebody can start asking about why Kyle Moore is in on third and long with our four man rush instead of Brian Price then we will be cooking with fish grease...


  1. Cooking with Fish Grease, LOL!

    Go Get Em Steve!

    Now Rah is talking about Ronde at safety. Somebody is reading your blog and sooner or later they will have to follow your lead. It makes too much sense.


  2. Steve, what are the chances of someday you coming on board the Bucs coaching staff? Lot's of fans follow your site and love your insight. Most new players search out and learn more from the veterans they play with and against, rather than coaches. I'd like to see you on the sidelines again.

  3. Once again Great read Steve!!!I wish you were our D-Line coach.What do you think about our run game is it Caddy or the O-Line?

  4. Nice breakdown and insight as usual Steve

  5. I posted this over at Joe's, wanted to get your take on this.

    God, I HATE to say this, and it is not my opinion either. But I was told by someone who has considerable football knowledge that McCoy has been an unspoken disappointment to Tampa, as far as a dominant pass rusher goes. This person told me that he believes Raheem and Mark Dominick are intentionally moving McCoy around, despite advice to the contrary, so at the end of the season they can blame the moving him around, instead of admitting to their mistake in drafting him so highly! This person says it is becoming more and more clear we should have traded OUT of the number 3 pick, passed on McCoy, and taken the USF Defensive End and the quality Middle linebacker he feels we need so badly. Again, this is not MY opinion, just some food for discussion. But chew on this, Suh has sacks, McCoy has none so far. My friend feels McCoy will never be the dominant defensive lineman we hoped he would be in the NFL. He says NFL Offensive Linemen are having their way with him, and out of sheer job preservation, Raheem and Mark Dominick are trying their best to protect their NFL Futures.
    Mark Dominick has a lot riding on this draft, considering the waste of his bosses money on Ward and Clayton. Surely, the Glazers will not tolerate another Gaines Adams ? Tampa Stadium is always empty, except for the fans of other teams.

    I hope my friend is wrong about McCoy being a bust. He sure is a likable guy, and so is Mark Dominick. I see our run defense as way better then last year, and I attribute a lot of that to McCoy and Price. But the numbers don’t lie, where are the sacks ?
    Charlie Batch had all DAY on Sunday, and even ran on us.

  6. @Apple

    Well no offense to your friend but he's full of shit. Gerald McCoy has a ton of ability and he is a really good pass rusher. He hasn't had sacks but he has made plays in the first 2 games. Its also worth noting that Suh may have sacks but he doesn't have any wins to show for it. I think your friend also said something about 40 times well that's funny too because McCoy's 40 time was faster than Suh's. I love how fans can make snap judgements about a player after 3 games when they really don't have a clue as to what is going on. If McCoy sucked I would say so. He doesn't...not by a long shot. So tell your friend to wait a couple of years before he jumps off the golden gate bridge for crying out loud. There wasn't another defensive player other than Eric Berry that was close to being worthy of that 3rd slot anyway.

    Its really incredible that I'm even being asked this question after 3 games when we are 2-1 to be honest with you. Un friggin believable.

  7. lol, I love it Steve. They keep throwin' 'em up and you keep knocking them out of the park.

    Keep it comin ;)

  8. Agreed Steve, you know how "know it all" friends can be. I think McCoy is going to be just fine, if they would keep moving him around. I pointed out to my friend that we are 2 and 1, and Carolina did not run over us, as they did last year.

  9. Apple's friend still thinks the Bucs play at Tampa Stadium. Enough said.

  10. Yeah i would love to see Steve be our Dline coach!
    I have yet to see a game on TV but am looking forward to seeing the Game on Halloween in Phoenix!!! Will be dressed in my Pirate garb. Yarg!!!

    Why o why do we not just play them in the positions we drafted them for? K Moore at DE Price & Mcoy at DT and a RDE.. I can see if we have all Pros at these positions and we move them around but these guys are young and need some structure before they can Freelance..
    Just the way I see it Out her in AZ