August 17, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) on the sidelines against the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-US PRESSWIRE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have announced their team captains, which they say have been elected by the players. The selected team captains are defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and safety Ronde Barber on defense, quarterback Josh Freeman and wide receiver Vincent Jackson on offense and linebacker Adam Hayward and longsnapper Andrew Economos on special teams.
None of these names should be surprising, but I think the selection of Gerald McCoy as team captain is pretty significant. The past two years, McCoy has been trying to be a leader - but limited production in year one and missing most of the season in year two has held him back in a role like that. The past days, however, the Bucs have been hyping up McCoy and rightly so: the defensive tackle has looked very good when he's been on the field and should be a key player for this defense. Questions about his being injury-prone will prevail, but that's not something the Bucs can actually control or predict.
His (s)election as a team captain solidifies one thing, though: the team needs McCoy. They have no one who can start at defensive tackle behind McCoy, with starting left defensive end Michael Bennett perhaps being the best option if they were to lose McCoy. That would leave a gaping hole at defensive end, however. Wallace Gilberry and Gary Gibson are two other players who can function at defensive tackle, but neither is much more than a replacement-level option. This defense hinges on McCoy's ability to stay healthy, and that is pretty scary. It makes his election as team captain understandable, even though it's the most surprising selection.
By comparison, the quarterback and star free agent on offense being leaders can't be surprising, nor can Ronde Barber's election as a team captain, which appears to happen every year. Whether these players were elected by the players we'll never know - rumors of rigging of these elections abound every year for every team. What's significant, though, is that each of these players on offense and defense is a key cog on the new team - someone without whom, that side of the ball could easily collapse. The Bucs need these captains to live up to their billing, or we might see a repeat of last year.