Gerald McCoy played high school football so well that he was USA Today‘s defensive player of the year as a senior, and he played college football so well that he was the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. But through all that, and through his first two seasons as a defensive lineman for the Buccaneers, McCoy says he never really learned how to tackle.
McCoy told the Tampa Tribune that he never had a coach show him proper tackling technique until he started playing for Schiano this offseason.
“We do a tackling circuit before every practice, and I’ve never done anything like that before,” McCoy said. “I realize now that, before, I was just playing football. Now, I’m really learning how to tackle and I think it’s going to help me a lot.”
Offseason practices aren’t full-contact, but Schiano loves to stress proper form in detail-oriented practices that also include cornerbacks working on stripping the ball, safeties working on recovering fumbles and defensive linemen rushing the passer with their hands held high. Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber says that’s something he hasn’t seen in his previous 15 seasons in Tampa Bay.
“Everybody talks about fundamentals, but he hammers it,” Barber said. “We get fundamentals every day. He’s definitely a teacher and that’s a good thing.”
It’s certainly a good thing for a coach to be sure his defensive players know how to tackle.