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Gerald McCoy: "This season has been the toughest mentally"

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald McCoy has had a disappointing season a year after signing a massive, $98 million contract extension. While he leads the team with 7.5 sacks and is still one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, he hasn't been as disruptive as he's been in previous years, and he's become a regular target for a certain group of fans.

In an interview with Andie Hagemann of NFL.com, McCoy sheds some light on what he's dealt with this season (h/t BucWild007).

This season, honestly, has been the toughest for me mentally from all I've had to deal with. ... In these types of experiences, you persevere through them as a man and as a player in general. You need times like this, seasons like these, because it does nothing but better you. I've been playing injured all year, multiple injuries. It's more mental than physical when you're dealing with injuries and still trying to perform.

The injuries have been obvious this season. McCoy started the season with two sacks in his first one-and-a-half games before leaving with a shoulder injury. Over the next seven games he'd managed just two-and-a-half sacks. Once he was fully healthy, he immediately put up two-and-a-half sacks in one-and-a-half games before breaking his hand. In the two games since then, he's managed just half a sack -- and he's been visibly limited by the injury.

To make it clear: in three fully healthy games worth of playing time, McCoy had 4.5 sacks this year. In ten injured games, he had three. While sacks only give one a partial view of any defensive tackle impact, the cause of his relative decline seems clear.

That is not to excuse his play, which has not lived up to his pay or previous standards. It's just to note that there's a simple reason for the decline: injuries severe enough to heavily effect his play, but not severe enough to keep him off the field. When healthy, McCoy has been a terror this season as he has been throughout his career. There's no reason to believe this is going to change, and he should be back to his old wrecking ball self next season.