What could have been?- How One Come from Behind Victory has Changed the Fates of Two Defenses. At Least for this Year.

Aww, what could have been? When New Orleans Saints kicker Garrett Hartley’s field goal sailed away from the uprights and the Bucs stormed down the field on a game-winning drive in OT, it was exciting. Hell, it was inspiring. Unfortunately, it also changed things. At the same time, the Detroit Lions were losing to the San Fransisco 49′ers, 20-6.  This was the fifth loss in a six-game losing streak and what, essentially, sealed their opportunity to draft Ndamukong Suh with second pick in the draft. This left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to pick Gerald McCoy to solve their defensive issues. The result to date:

Suh has 21 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception, McCoy has eight tackles and a forced fumble. By the way, Tyson Alualu, the other defensive tackle selected among the top ten picks of the NFL Draft, has 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

The obvious question is why? Why is McCoy, who graded higher than Suh, lagging way behind him in statistics and, seemingly, development? Well, to look at them, both in college and now, it’s apparent that Suh is a unique talent. A player that possesses unique combination of size, athletic ability and mental acumen. Suh possesses so much of each quality that it is fair to say that he would make any peer look insufficient.

However, McCoy possesses a similar skill set and to everyone that has tuned into his radio show on 620 AM WDAE, it’s obvious that he is a very motivated and faithful player. Both players are being asked to be the face of their respective defenses, so the pressure is equal.

Ian Beckles, co-host of the WDAE’s Ron and Ian Show, pointed to a lack of positive examples around McCoy. Players who could show him the proper way to play. This is a valid point. Who’s going to teach McCoy to be a great defensive lineman, Stylez G.? Tim Crowder? Then again, who taught Warren Sapp? I think he just had it.

Coaching could be a factor. Lions’ defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham built a top-ranked defense in Kansas City. Bucs head coach Raheem Morris’ best days may still be ahead of him.

Truth is, there are a myriad of reasons why Suh has ascended and McCoy has struggled, including dumb luck. Time will tell if McCoy will fulfill his promise, if Morris puts McCoy’s feet to the fire (as many suggest he should) and if Suh will become one of the great defensive players of all time. However, one can’t help but let there mind drift to what Suh would look like in the pewter and red. It’s likely that the teams would not be running over the Bucs. 

To think, it was simply a few plays away from being a possibility.


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