<
>

McCoy: Bucs defense can soar and score

TAMPA, Fla. -- If Gerald McCoy has his way, the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers may look a lot like they did in their glory days.

The All-Pro defensive tackle said Tuesday he believes Tampa Bay’s defense can be an offensive weapon. He believes the Bucs can score on defense. McCoy said it’s up to the defense to set the pace for the rest of the team.

“Yeah, we have to because if the other team can’t score they can’t win," McCoy said. “Who’s to say we can’t win the game on defense? That’s not taking anything away from our offense. I think our offense is awesome. But who says we can’t just go win the game on defense? Let’s say the offense isn’t having a good day. Why can’t we take the ball away twice and put it in the end zone? There’s no rule that says that can’t happen. That’s just what we’re working towards."

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it wasn’t uncommon for Tampa Bay’s defense to score or at least set up the offense. The 2002 Super Bowl championship team scored nine defensive touchdowns.

“We have to take the ball away," McCoy said. “We can’t depend on the offense to make a mistake. We have to force opportunities and capitalize on them."

McCoy knows the history and he’s well aware that coach Lovie Smith’s defensive scheme is a lot like what the Bucs used to run. Smith was the team’s linebackers coach during the Tony Dungy years. McCoy didn’t criticize the system former coach Greg Schiano ran the past two years, but said he really likes Smith’s defense.

“We’re going to line up and do what we do and make you beat us," McCoy said. “It’s really a beat-the-man-in-front-of-me type defense and just be more physical than them. We’re not trying to outexecute or outscheme anybody. Just go out there and outplay them."

McCoy repeatedly has been called the team’s best player by Smith. McCoy said the coach also has challenged him.

“I’ve been asked by the owners, the head coach, the GM to take it to another level and to lead this team and that’s all I’m trying to do," McCoy said. “In the past, I was asked to lead, but it’s a different type of leadership now. Coach kind of put it on my back. I kind of asked him to. You can put it on my back. I can handle it."