Lost in all the praise for Jameis Winston was the fact that Gerald McCoy had a vintage McCoy game for the first time since the start of this season. He had 1.5 sacks, and clowned a number of linemen -- the best example of the latter was highlighted by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.
Gerald McCoy gave LG Allen Barbre the Nick McDonald treament pic.twitter.com/CJxrOOzpFw— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) November 23, 2015
That's the McCoy we know and love. He's had those plays intermittently this season, but not quite as frequently as in previous seasons. In part because teams have been focusing heavily on stopping him, with no other players on the defensive line worth paying attention, and in part because he was struggling with a shoulder injury.
Both of those issues were lifted this week, as Jacquies Smith returned from injury to give the Bucs a speed rusher to help widen the tackle on McCoy's side, giving him more true one-on-one opportunities, and McCoy was entirely absent from the injury report for the first time in months. But this wasn't isolated: McCoy jumped off the screen more than he had previously last game as well, after being limited only once in practice.
With a healthy McCoy and Lavonte David making more and more splash plays, this defense may be getting better at just the right time as the Bucs are trying to get into the playoffs. And they have a realistic chance of doing so.