TAMPA -- Several days after lambasting his teammates for being soft, Tampa Bay Buccaneer Gerald McCoy signed a contract making him the richest defensive tackle in NFL history.
The move might be better than any pep talk Bucs head coach Lovie Smith could give his beleaguered team, which ranks last in the NFL in total defense.
The question remains if it will help the hapless 1-5 Bucs, who face the equally hapless Minnesota Vikings (2-5) Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
After a bye week, smith says it's a new season.
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"All sins are forgiven, that's how we see it. We're going to play better defense, better ball period, hopefully starting this weekend," Smith said. "I am disappointed in where we are right now is how I feel, but I don't spend too much time living in the past."
McCoy hit the jackpot with a reported $51.1 million guaranteed. It's the most ever given to a defensive tackle and averages $14 million per year. The entire package is for seven years and $98 million.
The fifth-year pro has not
hidden his disappointment about never making the playoffs and admonished his teammates for not being tough.
"If you look out there on tape and see a bunch of guys sitting on blocks, are you not earning the title of being soft?" McCoy said. "I mean guys get so sensitive around the league, but we have to be men. This is a man's league. We're professionals. We have to accept what happened, like I did last week. If you don't have a good day at the office, just say that. Not everybody has great games."
McCoy's words can be inspirational, but a lot of the Bucs' issues are with the offensive line, which will be in for a test against Minnesota.
Despite their problems, the Vikings boast a legitimate pass rush and could cause a lot of concern for quarterback Mike Glennon, who is expected to start for the Bucs.
Minnesota ranks sixth in sacks with 20, 10 of those coming in the past two weeks against Detroit and Buffalo. Nine of those sacks have been registered by the defensive line, which has 16 for the season.
Everson Griffin has been getting a lot of headlines with three sacks last week against Buffalo's Kyle Orton and 9.5 sacks in his last nine games. Outside linebacker Anthony Barr has two sacks, six hurries and 10 pressures.
The Vikings pass rush has to make the Bucs feel uneasy because in their last game (two weeks ago) Baltimore teed off on Glennon sacking him five times and keeping him under constant pressure.
The Bucs defense is hoping it can turn the tide in its favor going against Minnesota rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who after an impressive debut against Atlanta has struggled in three straight losses to Green Bay, Detroit and Buffalo.
Bridgewater has thrown five interceptions and been sacked 13 times in his last two games. He has McCoy salivating.
"Rookies, sometimes when they see a lot of things, a lot of smoke and mirrors, they get to thinking a lot," McCoy said. "I definitely believe with some of our disguises we can fool him a little bit. But all of that really doesn't matter if we don't beat the man in front of us. We've just got to win our battles."
Bridgewater put the blame on himself for his rash of sacks.
"I would say that it's just me holding onto the football whenever I am in the pocket," the former Louisville standout said. "I'm trying to look for big plays, trying to win the game in one play when there are easy throws right in front of me. I have to understand that I need to continue to nickel-and-dime a team, and eventually a big play is going to come."
The Bucs are ranked 25th with nine sacks and one of eight teams that have not recorded double-digit sacks.
This could be the most important game of the season for Glennon if he wants to remain the Bucs starting quarterback with the man he replaced, Josh McCown, returning to health.