Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Did Gerald McCoy Get Manhandled?


This afternoon I was on with J.P. Peterson here locally on 1010 AM to talk about the Bucs. As we were discussing different situations and different players of course Gerald McCoy came up. I gave my opinion about how McCoy has been playing but then J.P. brought up the fact that McCoy didn't have a lot of reps on bench press at the combine (again) and said it looked like he was getting manhandled. I struggled to hold in a chuckle while I explained that McCoy hasn't been getting manhandled but that he does need to work on his technique and that if anyone has been getting pushed around it has been the starting nosetackle, Roy Miller.

Well J.P. brought up a play where he said McCoy got pancaked. It was the touchdown run by Larod Stephens-Howling in the second half of the Arizona game. I didn't have my notes in front of me and obviously I didn't have the game cued up so I wasn't sure about the particular play but I was sure that McCoy wasn't getting pushed around against the Cardinals. So we went back and forth about it and after the interview was over I decided to watch the play again on my DVR and go back over my notes. Before I could even watch it again or check my notes though, I got a message from a fan who basically repeated what J.P. had said word for word (with the added caveat that he thought it was McCoy's worst game and that he "gave up" in the second half")

Now I was really curious to see this play. So I pulled it up on the DVR and broke out my notes and...

Sure enough McCoy got pancaked.

And in my notes I even made a note that he got pancaked.

So was I wrong and J.P. and this other fan right?

Uhh, no.

Here is the thing about that particular play. Arizona was facing a 3rd and 1 from the Bucs 36 yard line and they lined up in shotgun with Stephens-Howling in the backfield. Its important to note here that LSH only had 9 carries total for the season going into our game. I'm not sure but it appears that the Bucs took all of that into account and instead of lining up defending the run, the defensive line was in pass rush mode.

Both McCoy and Miller lined up in three techniques with both A gaps open and the ends were in wide 5 techniques outside of the offensive tackles, getting up field on the snap of the ball. Now I personally didn't and don't believe that was a sound approach with a little over a minute to go in the 3rd quarter, but never the less it IS what the Bucs did.

So McCoy comes off the ball about to make a pass rush move and instead he gets double teamed by the guard and the tackle. And yes he gets crushed right onto his back. But it is what it is, the guy didn't know what hit him basically.

In the end it wouldn't have mattered because as I said both A gaps were open and had he stayed up LSH would have still had a hole big enough to drive a truck through to get the first down.

But more importantly than that, this one play was not close to being indicative of how McCoy played the rest of the game. And since everyone seems to have recorded the game and are now knowledgeable about defensive line play, let me give you a few other plays to take a look at so you can watch it for yourself and decide whether or not McCoy's low bench press numbers mean anything at this point.

11:03 in the 1st quarter: McCoy makes an inside move swatting the offensive guard to the side and ends up beating both the guard and the center to get a hit on the quarterback.

10:59 in the 2nd quarter: McCoy stands the guard up and pushes him back basically with one hand and uses his free hand to make the tackle. (By the way, that's six time All Pro and 9 time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca just FYI)

5:30 and 4:52 in the 2nd quarter: On consecutive plays McCoy splits a double team and makes a tackle.

4:29 in the 3rd quarter: McCoy pushes the guard two yards back in the backfield and makes the running back cut back laterally.

2:15 in the 4th quarter: McCoy again swats the guard by and beats both the guard and the center to get a good rush on the play where Derek Anderson throws the interception to Aqib Talib that all but sealed the deal.

Now understand that these weren't the only plays where he did something good. These were just plays where he showed some strength and physicality. The truth is the Bucs ran at least 10 Pirate stunts so its not like McCoy was stationary all the time taking on double teams, and considering the fact that the Cardinals only ran the ball 21 times its not like he had a lot of opportunities to show his mettle against the run. But aside from that one play where he got caught slipping, McCoy played the run very well on Sunday. Any suggestion to the contrary simply isn't based in fact and just as I extended an invitation to J.P. if there is anybody who believes that McCoy has been getting pushed around based on that one play if you like we can sit back and watch the recording or the replay of the game together and I will point out just how wrong you are.

In the end I am sure that this particular line of thinking won't go away any time soon. For some people McCoy's bench press numbers define who he is and will be as a player. As wrong headed as that is, I know that I won't be able to convince everyone that's hell bent on believing that, that it isn't true. But all I can do is inform people of the truth.  The reason behind the name of this blog is I feel compelled to share the information that I have with fans who may not know any better, particularly when they are hearing a lot of the wrong information from the media.  Its my intention to "pass on the game" that I have picked up over the years both playing and briefly coaching the game in hopes that not only will the people who read this blog be more knowledgeable, but that they will in turn be better able to teach the people they know about football as well.

So whether people ever drop this bullshit talking point about McCoy's bench press numbers or not, I feel good just knowing that at least the truth is out there if they ever want to find it.

It is what it is.

(P.S. Its generally accepted that Cardinals Pro Bowl defensive end Darnell Dockett is one of the stronger guys in the NFL. Just for shits and giggles watch the game again and focus on how many times James Lee put him on his back. I counted 3 times but I might have missed a few)


  1. Ha, you tell'em Steve. I love when you do that. Every article gives me more insight into the D-line play. Thanks for that. I'll be watching the game again, and I'll look out for those plays (among others). I'm half tempted to argue and disagree, so I can sit down with you and watch the game again... lol.

    By the way, any insights into the Falcons O-line that our D-line might be able to use this week? I found it interesting a couple weeks ago when you pointed out some things about the Saints O-line before the game. Thanks again.

  2. Amen, Steve. I'm so sick of JP bringing up that lame bench press number, as if it means anything. The league is littered with strong guys who didn't put up huge numbers at the combine (Sapp had fewer reps). Go back and look at the OU spring numbers and you'll see McCoy's name regularly near the top of squats, bench, etc.

  3. Steve,

    Thanks for the article on McCoy. I thought the last two games in particular I've seen more penetration from him. Coincidentally, I think McCoy is getting better because the coaching staff isn't moving him around as much as they used to in the past. Of course, you brought this point up in an earlier blog.

    However, I think the other problem is the overall "man crush" on Suh. McCoy will always be compared to Suh. Half a season for either man doesn't make a career, much still has to be written. However, Suh is statiscally off to the better start. McCoy is far from a bust.

  4. So do you think that we could be onto something with Lee? Man I'm hopeful with all the injury and shuffling we've had to do, it would be nice to uncover some hiddent talent in the process.

  5. What I don't understand is why some of the local media (yeah, local, every national piece on McCoy's play I've seen has been positive) are so hellbent on promoting this false narrative. And what's worse is that it's sticking in a lot of fans' minds and it's becoming common knowledge.

    The only reason I can think they're sticking to this storyline was that they built it up before the draft, when they said McCoy was a pushover because of the bench press. Which was ridiculous anyway: they drew that conclusion from one test at the combine instead of, say, looking at his college tape.

    I feel like for a lot of these radio hosts the narrative they've built up is important, regardless of the facts they're facing. Because if they stray from the narrative, they lose face.

    And the irony of it all is that this has picked up after McCoy played two good games. It's so, so weird.

  6. They wanna talk about bench press like it means something? Sapp, nuff said.

  7. Isn't 225 lbs a terrible measure of a lineman's actual strength anyways? Once you start going over 15 reps it all becomes about endurance. Now granted over an entire game it may show how well you hold up at the very end, but for raw power it doesn't reflect it very well. I would be curious to know what he maxes and how it compares to others in the league. I know he isn't the strongest but he likely isn't as 'weak' as others think.

  8. Bench press is not a good measure of functional (football) strength. Combine numbers are for amateurs.

  9. I compare him to Suh like I compare Freeman to Sanchez and Stafford. When I watch the game McCoy seems to be getting pushed back more that getting penetration. Suh is ridiculous and there is no comparison between the two. Suh is having a pro bowl year. Sapp said elite DT's get double digit sacks and Suh is on pace. Im just waiting for McCoy to break out next year or later on this year. I still think Price will be better than McCoy though. Dockett plays DE in a 3-4 hybrid doesnt he, so I dont know if u can really compare them. I know Tyson Alualu has sacks though. I liked him better than McCoy coming out.

  10. Great read man, and great job on your part to educate the ignorant fanbase and the media, I am sure McCoy and some of our other players will really appreciate that.

    That being said, I am still eagerly waiting for TGTBATG article. I understand you are a busy man, in case you don't think you will ge time to write it, plz drop a small comment here.

  11. No TGTBTU post this week.

  12. Steve , You are the Fucking Man ! Don't change , I will tell every Buc fan I know to read your Blog . I've said before NFL journalists need to be more like film critics than writers.

    This is what football fans like, right here.

  13. I must have really pissed you off for you to kick me off FB and call me out in your blog, LOL. I was just giving you my opinion dude. McCoy had little impact on the game, probably his worst effort thus and not just because he was pancaked on a double team. He consistently comes off the ball high, stops driving with his legs after contact, chases the ball down with half ass effort, rarely gets penetration and never gets to the Quarterback.... I don't see his fight, I don't see a mean streak, I don't see him playing violently. I'd love to sit down and watch the game and have you give me the inside scoop on what he's doing right/wrong etc and why the line calls are helping/hurting him, I'm just a fan, you're the expert...

  14. I compare him to Suh like I compare Freeman to Sanchez and Stafford. When I watch the game McCoy seems to be getting pushed back more that getting penetration. Suh is ridiculous and there is no comparison between the two. Suh is having a pro bowl year. Sapp said elite DT's get double digit sacks and Suh is on pace. Im just waiting for McCoy to break out next year or later on this year. I still think Price will be better than McCoy though. Dockett plays DE in a 3-4 hybrid doesnt he, so I dont know if u can really compare them. I know Tyson Alualu has sacks though. I liked him better than McCoy coming out.

  15. Steve, you said it, and what I like most about you is you research everything you put out there. Not only do you have the experience to back it up, but you have the brains and check all the facts. Too many in the media these days just make comments based on 2'nd hand information or speculation, as you have also pointed out before. Thanks for doing what you do, and for free. What more can a Buc fan ask for?

  16. Steve:

    You can always point out that Sapp only did 17 reps on the bench press.

    That's what I've read from numerous places anyways.

  17. I'm one of those fans who probably wouldn't "know any better." I appreciate the analysis of McCoy. I haven't judged him harshly, because I just think that a player can improve so much between his 1st and 2nd years. But it is nice to hear that McCoy is coming along.