Back in the Buccaneers’ glory days, the team won a championship from winning games in the trenches. Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, and Anthony McFarland were all contributors of the team’s historic run. But it wasn’t just that moment that put those three and others across the defensive line on the map. Instead it was their consistent and dominant play for several years that did that.
They were able to achieve greatness thanks to the defensive scheme implemented by then head coach Tony Dungy and his staff which would be infamously called the Tampa-2. Now head coach Lovie Smith was part of Dungy’s staff from 1996-2000 as linebackers coach and it was no secret he would plan on bringing the ever popular Tampa-2 back to when it was created.
The main focal point of the defensive scheme is the play of the defensive line, especially the defensive tackle. Like Sapp, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will be that guy and he feels that if the defensive line has success, the entire Buccaneers team will feed off of that.
“The d-line, I believe, is the piston that drives the team,” McCoy said. “If the d-line is rolling, then the o-line feeds off of us and the offense feeds off them. If the offense is moving the ball it makes us [want to] keep stopping the opposing offense from putting up points. So if we’re rolling, everyone is rolling.”
Sapp would always say to give the defense 17 points and they’ll do the rest. McCoy’s words can instantly lead to that if the defensive line does in fact become the team’s driving force. And if they do, the fifth-year veteran feels they can become a Top 10 defense.
“Yeah just with all of the pieces, we just have to have everybody get the scheme down to where it’s second nature,” McCoy said. “It’s a great defense to play in and once everybody figures it out and have the ins and outs of it, it’s going to be scary. We don’t even have [safeties] Mark Barron or Dashon Goldson going with us right now, you add those two and it’s like ‘sheesh.’”
Coaches in their first years with their new teams normally struggle to get the team to where they want it. But Smith is inheriting a defense with potential talent as well as some pieces added through free agency.
If everything falls into place, McCoy’s words could be a precursor of another great run for the Tampa Bay defense — a defense many fans have been missing for quite some time.
Follow Gil on Twitter: @GilArciaTBC
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