If you were somehow unaware, the Panthers signed six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy earlier this week, and while most Panthers fans have a vague idea of McCoy the player from having seen him play against the Panthers twice a year, it’s worth examining what the Panthers have got in their new star defensive tackle. To that end, here is a look at McCoy in 2018, with a particular focus on how McCoy might fit in the new Panthers’ defense – and why playing next to Dontari Poe and Kawann Short will likely invigorate him for 2019.
So, with that in mind, how good is Gerald McCoy?
Last season, the Buccaneers didn’t have a huge amount of talent on defense – while JPP is solid and Vita Vea could be a very good pro in time, McCoy saw a lot of double teams as both a run defender and a pass rusher. While McCoy largely played over or outside the guard in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 defense, the Giants in particular went out of their way to double him off the snap:
When teams, such as the Eagles did, look to single him instead, he showed the ability to keep his blocker at bay and stay in his gap, forcing the ball carrier back inside – an underrated skill for a defensive tackle that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet:
This then made it easier to work off blocks and pursue to the ball from the backside of the play:
When he was at his best, however, was when he was allowed to focus on being disruptive and allow others around him to clean up. He has the quickness and power to drive blockers backward:
And the bend to pair with that quickness to work into gaps and force rushers to redirect early:
This is particularly relevant for the Panthers’ new defense, as with McCoy likely to line up outside the guard almost all the time in the Panthers three-man front, and with Kawann Short and Dontari Poe also on the field, offenses won’t be able to double him with the frequency he faced in Tampa – with teams likely forced to single two of those three.
It’s not clear whether the Panthers will focus more on penetration or gap fitting for their three-man front, but with McCoy, they have a potentially excellent interior penetrator if they look to go in that direction, with his ability to work into gaps allowing them a degree of flexibility, something they have made a real priority on defense.
Up Next: McCoy Gets To The Spot – The Sack Spot