McCoy finally turning up the intensity on defense
Anwar Richardson, The Tampa Tribune, published 15 November 2010

Gerald McCoy heard rumblings about his performance through eight games.

McCoy knew media and fans were starting to question when he would have an impact. After being drafted to improve Tampa Bay's defensive line, McCoy's presence had led to only six team sacks and little resistance against running backs. There were also comparisons to Detroit rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was recently named the NFL's defensive rookie of the month.

Bucs observers had not seen enough good plays from McCoy to be impressed, but he showed how good the defense can be when he excels during Sunday's 31-16 victory against Carolina. "Our coaches (Saturday) were talking about turning the dial up," McCoy said. "Turning the intensity up for the second half of the season and I heard them.

"They wanted us to play at another level. They said, 'What would it be like if we came out and started the first half like we usually do in the second half and stop them early.' I wanted to come out and start fast." McCoy played how many envisioned he could when Tampa Bay drafted him third overall.

Despite McCoy's previous struggles, he was disruptive against Carolina. McCoy was able to shed blockers and disturb Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen, and he helped slow Carolina's traditionally dominant rushing attack.

Carolina running back Mike Goodwin, a third-stringer, finished with 23 carries for 100 yards. He is the sixth running back in Tampa Bay's past seven games to rush for 100 or more yards, but McCoy's play prevented even more damage.

McCoy finished with five tackles, two passes defenses, one forced fumble and a tackle for loss. "I did see him active a little bit out there today," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "I know he got into the backfield and caused disruption in a couple of good things.

"He's been getting better over the last three weeks and hopefully he can continue to do that. He'll jump up on the stat boards and do all those things that we would like to see."

While McCoy's impact was hard to miss, Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud also had a breakthrough game. Tampa Bay blitzed Ruud and linebacker Dekoda Watson on several plays, which were new packages Morris installed leading up to Sunday's game.

Ruud typically reads plays and then reacts, but he enjoyed his new role of being aggressive and responded with 10 tackles, one sack, one quarterback hurry and one tackle for loss.

"It was fun to get turned loose and get those A-gap blitzes," Ruud said. "That's kind of what you're looking for as a linebacker, which is to go through the A-gap and mash up the pack. It's been a while since I've done that and it was good to get a few (opportunities) like that.

"My friends tease me and say I don't have a sack yet. Inside linebackers don't usually get that many sacks, so it was good for my buddies at home watching me, looking for sacks."