Gerald McCoy says Bucs game plan vs. Bills hurt pass rush
Add Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to the list of players who didn’t think they were utilized correctly by defensive coordinator Mike Smith in Sunday’s 30-27 loss at Buffalo.
Unlike safety T.J. Ward and defensive tackle Chris Baker, who complained about their lack of playing time, McCoy simply responded to a question Wednesday about how Smith’s decision to rush three down linemen and a stand up linebacker on some third downs affected his ability to get to the quarterback.
McCoy also made it clear that is a ‘team guy,’ and will always do what he’s asked. But the five-time Pro Bowl player said Smith’s scheme against the Bills limited his effectiveness as a pass rusher.
The Bucs have an NFL-worst seven sacks this season. McCoy is tied for the team-lead with two.
“I just play what they call. I don’t have a say so in what we run, I just kind of go with it,’’ McCoy said. “I’m a team guy, so I do what they ask me to do. Do I feel like I could’ve been more effective in a different way? Yes. But I’m a team guy. It’s not about Gerald. Whatever coach calls is what I’m going to run.
“Your rush has to be different for sure. You can be aggressive but not as aggressive because when you’ve got a guy who can run like Tyrod (Taylor) could or like Cam (Newton) can, you’ve got to keep your hands up front and really just kind of mirror the quarterback. For me, I make guys move. That’s why I give guards hell. Because once I get them in space, it’s a problem. But when I’m in a three-man front, I can’t really do that.''
Smith defended his use of the 3-3-5 scheme against the Bills and admitted it changed how McCoy is able to rush the passer.
“It does, and when we go to three down linemen, it does,’’ Smith said. “You have to create the situation where Gerald can thrive and that’s what we’ve got to do because he’s one of our best players. Again, we’re always looking at who are our best players? Who’s the matchup? And obviously, we’ve got to do a better job with that because we aren’t getting it done.’’
With the return of linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David to the lineup, rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith would typically come off the field in passing downs. But Smith found a way to keep all three linebackers together on rush downs.
“When we talk about putting together a game plan and how we want to disperse our guys, we look at it as how do we get our best 11 players on the field for the situation we’re facing,’’ Smith said. “We felt that it was to our advantage to have the three linebackers on the field to give us the best matchup in that game.’’
After the game, Ward said he was at ‘wit’s end,’ about being utilized as a part-time player. Defensive tackle Chris Baker seemed to complain about his playing time on Twitter.
But for a team struggling to sack the quarterback, employing a scheme to limit the effectiveness or your best pass rusher seems like the wrong move.