The PFF 101, No. 4: Gerald McCoy

The second Buc in the Top 5, Gerald McCoy comes in just ahead of his teammate and securely among the league's best of 2013.

| 3 years ago

The PFF 101, No. 4: Gerald McCoy

2013-101-feat-gmccoyIf there’s a player that timed a great season badly it’s Gerald McCoy. With J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn both re-writing expectations at their positions, Gerald McCoy dominated as a 4-3 defensive tackle in a way we have rarely seen and it almost passed without notice. Such was the shadow cast by the other two.

In fact the Bucs 2013 season had three stud defenders, one at each level of the defense, but the supporting cast around each was so poor that it still couldn’t stop them from ranking in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories.

Gerald McCoy was a wrecking ball as the Bucs’ three-technique, causing no end of disruption inside as he penetrated the offensive line to generate pressure more than any other player at his position. The 80 total pressures that McCoy notched were eight better than the next best DT (Ndamukong Suh) and his Pass Rushing Productivity score was, again, some way clear of Suh, who was still a distance clear of the chasing pack.

What makes McCoy’s performance so impressive is that he was doing it with virtually no help from anyone else on the Buccaneers’ front. Really, it’s tough to overstate how much McCoy was on his own there. He ended the season with a +57.3 grade overall, but was the only Tampa Bay defensive lineman to earn a positive grade for the season. The rest combined for a -84.7 grade! Despite the total dearth of threats outside of McCoy, teams were still unable to prevent him from causing problems inside and if anything he got stronger as the season went on, collecting a sack in his last four consecutive games.

McCoy finally got healthy for a full season and showed why many people thought he was the best defensive tackle available in his draft class and not Ndamukong Suh.



Best Game:  Week 14 vs. Buffalo (+9.5)

The Bills’ offensive line was much maligned in some corners but actually played pretty well last season, especially when it came to pass protection. We charged two Bills quarterbacks with more sacks than any of their linemen in 2013 and as a unit they actually had the fifth-best Pass Blocking Efficiency figure, allowing only 148 total pressures, again good for fifth in the league.

Despite those numbers the Bills allowed McCoy to tear through them to the tune of one sack, two knockdowns and four hurries. He also batted down a pass at the line and all five tackles he made on the day were defensive stops. This was McCoy at his most destructive, wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage, despite the rest of the Bucs’ defensive line combining for just 11 total pressures between seven players.

Take this play as an example. He powers through the B-gap despite traffic to his outside, causing a rushed throw from the quarterback that ultimately fell incomplete. This is a great example of the positive effect a strong pass-rush can have even if the play doesn’t result in a sack for the rusher.



Key Stat: His 80 total pressures was bettered by just four other players; three edge rushers and Watt.

Gerald McCoy has become the prototypical 3-technique or under tackle in a 4-3. He is the pass-rushing player on the interior of a four-man line and the player usually tasked with beating a guard one-on-one and disrupting plays in the backfield. McCoy has become as good as anybody at shooting gaps and playing on the opposing side of the line of scrimmage. The level of pressure he has been able to generate playing on the inside, despite little help around him, is remarkable.

In any other year McCoy would likely be the Defensive Player of the Year, but in 2013 he couldn’t even be the first runner up in that category at PFF. Despite being overshadowed by the years Watt and Quinn had, McCoy should not go without notice and he is well worth his place at No. 4 on the PFF Top 101.


101–91  |  90–81  |  80-71
70–61  |  60–51  |  
40–31  |  30–21  |  20–11

10. Marshawn Lynch, SEA
9. Andrew Whitworth, CIN
8. Lesean McCoy, PHI
7. Evan Mathis, PHI
6. Richard Sherman, SEA

5. Lavonte David, TB
4. Gerald McCoy


Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam 

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Keith Duplantis

    Must be a bucs fan

    • Hannah Hayes

      Or the more likely scenario that David and McCoy are really good.

      • Wyzel

        Bucs could easily be top of that division. Lovie smith is huge upgrade, and they are loaded with talent on D, and Lovie made it to one superbowl and missed another due to Shaun Hill.

  • PRBucfan


  • inthemud

    I am beginning to wonder if McCoy has hired a marketing firm to lobby for him. There is no way on this green Earth that Mccoy is in the top 5 players overall in the league. I am not even sure I would rank him in the top 5 for defensive tackles. The only reason he would make it that high is because there is a dearth of good defensive tackles in the league. What they seem to discount here is all of the plays where McCoy does nothing or, worse, misses tackles or gets pushed out of the play. Watching the all-22 gives a clear view that McCoy is not that great. In some games he is downright awful. His only good games come against crappy teams. Last year it was the Bills, the Dolphins, and Atlanta. Against the good teams like the Seahawks, Saints, Patriots, 49ers, etc. he is nowhere to be found. He is not worth the 83 million the Bucs are paying him, that is for sure. Since he has been on their team, their defense has ranked an average of 22nd. The four years before he joined the team they ranked an average of 14th defensively. McCoy is just not that great and it befuddles me that PFF ranks him so high all of the time.

    • Enelsoniii

      Totally agree. Ludicrous how they are fawning over the rarely double teamed McCoy.

    • Christopher

      ? Facts? since when are the Bucs paying McCoy 83 million?
      And please, name the better DTs. I’ll wait. It won’t be too long of a list.
      And please remember he’s been playing in a Schiano defense (or worse, a Raheem Morris defense). If he can do quite well playing in 2 schemes that are now out of the league (& don’t suit him), how well do you think he’ll play in his pitch-perfect defense, Lovie Smith’s?

      • inthemud

        You seem to be a McCoy apologist. You blame Schiano, Morris, and the rest of the defensive line for McCoy’s subpar performance for 4 years. Injured in 2010, injured in 2011, okay in 2012, a bit above average in 2013, HE IS THE BEST!!! GIVE HIM A BLANK CHECK!!! I do not get it. Him playing for the Bucs has not helped them even sniff the playoffs. The Buccaneers are hurting themselves by focusing on him. I cannot recall a single game in 4 years where he was dominant enough to be called a game changer.

        Jason Hatcher and Geno Atkins are better than McCoy, btw. Hell, on any given Sunday I would make the argument that half of the defensive tackles in the league are as good if not better than McCoy.

        • Alan

          Half the defensive tackles in the NFL are better than McCoy? Seriously? How is 80 total QB pressures for a DT not better than half the DTs in the league. Atkins is probably better but he tore his ACL last year.

  • Joe

    What get me they call out Ndamukong Suh as if McCy is in the same class. Remember PFF evaluators Suh has been double /or triple team more then any defensive tackle in the league and the lions still had the third ranking defense when it came to run stops. Your weird sensation for McCoy is damaging your credibility

    • Christopher

      Really? Do the Bucs have anyone even close to Nick Fairley playing next to McCoy?