A person should temper the urge to over-celebrate the Buccaneers’ 29-7 rout of the Bears with the understanding that Chicago is a sloppy team that turned the ball over four times in the first half and is likely to have a new head coach next season, if not sooner.
But, that being said, one thing jumped off the screen at me as I studied the replay.
Thursday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer compared the 6-4, 300-pound McCoy to former Viking Kevin Williams. And he’s right. McCoy, a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, plays like Williams did in his prime when he was going to six Pro Bowls and earning five first-team All-Pro selections.
Like Williams, McCoy plays the three-technique tackle position in a 4-3 defense. Like Williams, McCoy’s quickness and speed is a nightmare matchup when combined with his sheer size and strength. He forces guards to play like tackles, and most guards aren’t as good as tackles.
“He’s a stud,” Zimmer said. “He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s powerful. He’s got wiggle. When you talk about three-techniques around the league, he’s one of the top guys because of his pass rush ability and his quickness in the running game. He’s very disruptive.”
The Bucs played very well defensively. They weren’t afraid to send six and even seven defenders after Mike Glennon, the former Buc, who played like a rattled QB who wasn’t sure when the blitz was coming.
One of Glennon’s two interceptions was a pick-six right before halftime. The Bucs rushed only four defenders. The pocket was clean enough and there was time to throw, but Glennon rushed things, probably sensing pressure that wasn’t there.
The Bucs’ linebackers are fast and active. The secondary looked good. But this defense feeds off of No. 93, McCoy. He’s often the first defender to destroy a play. Or at least occupy two blockers while the linebackers run free.
“I used to say the guys in front of me played good, I played real good,” said former NFL All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman, who will work Sunday’s game as the Fox analyst. “If they played bad, I played real bad. My job was how well they played. And McCoy makes their jobs a lot easier.”
McCoy didn’t play as many snaps as I remember Williams playing in his prime. Of course, the game was played in Tampa in September, so that could explain why an active 300-pounder played only 63 percent (40 of 64) of the defensive snaps on Sunday.
But in those 40 snaps, McCoy had four of the Bucs’ eight quarterback pressures while splitting time over both guards and even lining up on the nose some.
Two plays that illustrate the destruction that McCoy can bring occurred on Chicago’s first two offensive snaps.
First play: McCoy looked like one of those circus guys who get shot out of a cannon. But instead of landing in a net, McCoy stood the left guard up like the guy was a 200-pound safety. He then drove him into the backfield and basically tackled him and the ballcarrier, Jordan Howard, for a 3-yard loss. That’s a tone-setter.
Second play: Now lined up over the right guard, McCoy explodes forward, pushing the guard back a couple of yards before splitting the gap to the center’s side. Glennon dumps the ball quick for a short gain, but takes the first of multiple hits from McCoy and the Bucs defense.
If those two snaps don’t get the attention of Vikings left guard Nick Easton and right guard Joe Berger, nothing will. Easton and Berger are fortunate to face McCoy at home, but they’re going to need backup from Pat Elflein on this one.