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2016 Player Prediction: Gerald McCoy

485148148Yes, I have been overly critical of Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy the past two seasons. With the lack of top plays to close out games and disappearing acts in many contests, criticism came from others as well.

It seems like a century ago when I wrote that the Buccaneers do not win unless McCoy plays. But that was when the team was being run under the coaching of Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano. It’s funny because the team brought in veteran head coach Lovie Smith — who is a defensive coach — and McCoy (along with the defense in general) was not successful. However, with Smith gone, things will be different not just for the team but for McCoy.

Tampa Bay’s veteran defensive tackle will now be coached by defensive coordinator Mike Smith and defensive line coach Jay Hayes, both of whom come with proven success in their respective positions. They already have the defense believing in their vision of the future which has led many to feel like this defense can be successful in 2016. Factor in Jacquies Smith, Clinton McDonald, and newcomers like veteran defensive end Robert Ayers and rookie pass rusher Noah Spence among others, McCoy could finally have the “help” many say he needs.

But I don’t think that help will be much of a factor and that’s not a bad thing. I feel McCoy will have his best year in his first year under a new defensive system — which will be his fourth defensive system to learn since being drafted in 2010. This season’s success will not be a result of others around him but instead it will be a result of his drive to succeed with the assistance from a coaching staff the likes he has never had before.

Predicition: 10+ sacks, First-Team All-Pro, Pro Bowl selection

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