Bears WR Brandon Marshall spoke a little too late for Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy on Monday when he urged his NFL brethren to avoid taking advice from one-time Bucs player Warren Sapp.
In this case, though, later was better, because the advice Sapp offered McCoy during a chat at One Buc Place a few days prior to Tampa Bay's game at Dallas last week proved immeasurable.
As he sat with McCoy studying tape of the Cowboys, Sapp referred to the Bucs' previous game in which the defensive scheme called for McCoy and the other defensive linemen to run a series of "stunts'' or "games'' against the Giants.
A stunt is a planned maneuver in which two lineman switch positions after the snap, usually by one looping around the another to confuse and ultimately slip through the offensive line.
It's a tactic used at every level of the game, but not necessarily the best tactic for players such as McCoy, whose explosive first-step quickness is by far his best weapon against an offensive lineman.
Sapp carried the same first-step quickness in his quiver, and when he saw how poorly the tactic worked against the Giants, who barely allowed a quarterback pressure against the Bucs, he urged McCoy to challenge his coaches.
"You've got to go into the man's office. Tell him, 'We've got this,' '' Sapp said.
Sapp did that frequently, he said, with former Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
"I'd tell him, 'I'll try it your way this time, but if it don't work, then we're going to do it my way.' I told (McCoy) the same thing. I told him, 'You can mess around on first and second down, but third down has to be (your way).''
Urged on by Sapp, McCoy took advantage last week the open-door policy of coach Greg Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, asking that the line eliminate the stunts from the game plan for the Cowboys.
"Being one of the defensive captains, I represented the D-line to the coaches and said, "Hey, give us a chance to go straight ahead more instead of going sideways on all these stunts,'' McCoy said.
"I said, 'If it don't work, then it don't work and we'll go back to doing whatever. Just give us this one opportunity to do this again,' and they did and we took advantage of it.''
They took advantage of it both against the pass and the run. The Bucs sacked Cowboys QB Tony Romo four times – McCoy and LDE Michael Bennett had two each – and knocked him down four more, three by McCoy.
Tampa Bay also recorded 11 tackles for loss against the run, including two for McCoy, two for Bennett and one each for DT Roy Miller and RDE Adrian Clayborn.
No harm, no foul
Bucs LG Carl Nicks is as happy as anyone to have the regular officials back on the job, but he wasn't among those ripping the replacements.
Considering the pressure they were under and their lack of experience at a high level of football, Nicks thought the replacement officials did a "great job'' and empathized with their plight.
"I'm not going to say anything bad about those boys,'' Nicks said, "Imagine playing Division III or high school or junior college football and coming to the NFL and starting. That's what it's like.
"And at the end of the you really can't blame nothing on the refs."
Knowing me, knowing you
The Bucs believe they had a bit of an edge against the Giants because offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan spent the previous few seasons working with New York's quarterbacks and receivers and knew their tendencies.
One would think the Redskins might have a similar edge today against the Bucs because former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is Washington's secondary coach, but QB Josh Freeman doesn't believe that's the case.
"I'm sure he's giving them tips or something, but to be honest, he doesn't know the system we're in here now,'' Freeman said. "He doesn't know where we're trying to go with the ball.''