When the Buccaneers hired Brentson Buckner back in mid-February, it sort of shook things up inside the walls of One Buc Place. It was no longer the soft spoken Jay Hayes, who never really got the most out of the defensive line during his tenure in Tampa Bay. Granted, he never had the talent the team has this season. It was a tough fire for Dirk Koetter because the two were great friends, but it had to be done and so far, it is paying dividends.
At Thursday’s OTA practice, Gerald McCoy, who is the team’s best defensive player, jumped offside after Jameis Winston used a hard count. It’s safe to say that Buckner was not happy with the six-time pro bowler. As the video shows, Buckner made a strong statement to McCoy in front of the whole defensive line. Of course the yelling wasn’t just at McCoy, but you could tell the majority of it was for McCoy to hear. We have seen in year’s past that McCoy has the tendency to try and jump the snap count and it has backfired on several occasions. Just a few weeks ago, Buckner said himself that he wanted McCoy to be smarter mentally and know what is coming before the play even develops.
I immediately got fired up after seeing this video. This team has been labeled as soft by many including me for many years now, especially in the trenches. Something needed to change and it is clear so far, that there is nothing soft about Buckner. I thought it was very telling what he told the defensive line group during the exchange. If you listen closely, you will hear Buckner say “If you don’t like me, then you don’t like me, I don’t care, but you will respect me.” I haven’t seen a Buccaneer coach show this much emotion since Gruden was screaming at the refs after every play.
Head coach Dirk Koetter was asked about the incident and I thought he had the absolute perfect response.
“Coaches coach, players play. It’s football. Guys get yelled at sometimes and guys get praised other times,” Koetter said. “There’s nothing unusual about that. When I started playing little league it was like that and it’s still like that in the NFL. So, there’s nothing unusual about that.”
That’s exactly right, coach. It’s a grown man’s sport and these athletes make millions of dollars a year to play football. I think they can take being yelled at once or twice. Some people reacted negatively to that video and claimed that yelling can wear thin on vets, but I disagree with the current situation that the Bucs are facing. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007, so the sense of urgency has to be there and I believe that is all Buckner was showing today. Coaches are paid to get the best out of players on a daily basis, and if they feel that a little yelling will help with that, I’m all for it. I hope it continues and I hope Buckner holds each and every player accountable, I don’t care who they are.