It has already been a soap opera type season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and things got a little more weird on Friday, when the team decided five games into their season to reveal their captains. And it wasn’t so much who was selected, but rather one prominent players name not in the mix.
For going on almost a decade, Gerald McCoy has been the iconic member of Tampa Bay’s defense. This includes six consecutive Pro Bowls that the defensive tackle has earned, while playing on mostly bad football teams.
McCoy has been a standard for hard work and keeping a good attitude on the Bucs. Further, he’s had the respect of his teammates in the locker room to the extent that they’ve named him a captain year after year throughout his career.
That is until his 2018 version of the Buccaneers and the weird vote the coach Dirk Koetter just concluded.
Weird, because the Bucs did not pick their captains for the full season at the beginning of the year, but rather waited until after QB Jameis Winston was back from suspension, and popular veteran backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had gone back to the bench, to hold the vote.
While the team did not make an official announcement, offensive players Mike Evans and Ali Marpet, linebackers Kwon Alexander and LaVonte David, and special teams player/linebacker Adarius Taylor were the five choices by the Bucs personnel.
Again, it’s not surprising that Winston stays in the background, because of his off the field problem that led to the NFL suspension and keeping it low-key for the quarterback.
What is surprising is that McCoy would not be named by his peers, especially by the defense.
A couple of important points:
There are numerous brand new Buccaneers, including McCoy’s defensive line mates like Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, and rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea. Also included are several new Buccaneers in the secondary like rookies M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis, and Jordan Whitehead.
So when you have that many new players voting, it’s entirely possible that they genuinely wanted someone different that they have all seen leading all offseason, training camp and the beginning of the regular season.
Now, another factor may very well be, that McCoy is about to be out for an extended period of time with his calf injury. He suffered the injury in the second half of the loss to the Falcons game and did not return. The Buccaneers gave no real update all week on the severity of the injury other than, McCoy not practicing all week and then being listed as out on Friday for the Browns game.
So, if hypothetically McCoy is going to miss, let’s say, a month of games, and you have this quirky/odd decision by Koetter to hold the captain’s vote after five games of the season, then it would make sense that his defensive teammates voted for Alexander and David to represent them.
And there’s one more possibility: and that’s that’s some of the guys in that locker room want a different voice or a different leader besides McCoy. It’s important to point out there’s no sign of actual friction and problems. However, it is eye opening, when a guy who has been a captain for more than five straight years on the same team and one of the best players on that team for all of that time, is suddenly not the guy.
Could you have imagined this kind of scenario over the last 20 years with Ray Lewis and Baltimore? Brian Urlacher in Chicago? What about with present day defenders that are synonymous with their teams like J.J. Watt of the Texans, previously Richard Sherman in Seattle, and Luke Kuechly of the Panthers?
So, maybe it is time for “new blood” in terms of leadership for the Bucs? Maybe there is something more to this captaincy stub for McCoy, maybe it has to do with the severity of an injury that nobody has really laid out for the public yet?
And one final maybe, is maybe McCoy told his teammates he didn’t want to be a captain?
That one is unlikely. However, until we hear from McCoy or his coach and/or how long he’s out with the calf injury, then we’re all left to speculate.
The only thing we do know is the Bucs are back home to Raymond James Stadium to play Sunday afternoon against the Browns with different leaders out in the forefront.
And naturally, if you start winninig again, no one will care who the captains are or aren’t, including McCoy.
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