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ESPN says Gerald McCoy’s work ethic was lacking

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images

Here’s something we rarely ever hear: Gerald McCoy apparently had some issues with his work ethic last year. That’s according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN, who writes this accusation as an aside in a paragraph where he defends Lovie Smith — rightly noting that Smith certainly wasn’t stuck in a Tampa 2 scheme.

And I know star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had some issues with the scheme, but I also heard from reliable sources that McCoy didn't always work his hardest.

Both of these things are somewhat surprising. McCoy certainly had a bit of a down year, but most of that is easily explained by the fact that he played injured. When he was fully healthy, which was only at the start of the season, he was the exact same wrecking ball we’d seen throughout the season.

I’m also not sure what this “issues with the scheme” thing is about. If anything, Lovie Smith’s up-field, attack-style scheme fit McCoy better than any previous scheme. Which is why he had one of his best seasons in 2014, even though the Bucs were terrible that year.

These accusations are also surprising because we rarely, if ever, hear anything negative about McCoy’s work ethic. He’s consistently been a hard worker since he got to Tampa, but it’s certainly possible that changed last year.

I’m sticking with the more sensible explanation, though: McCoy was limited by injuries, because that was visible throughout the year.