Gerald McCoy: Bucs must slow Drew Brees

TAMPA, Fla. – Gerald McCoy gave the usual high praise when asked for his scouting report on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Wednesday.

“It’s the same scouting any first-ballot Hall-of-Famer that’s still playing,’’ the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle said Wednesday. “We’ve got him, and then we’ve got another one right after him [in New England quarterback Tom Brady]. You scout them the best you can, you know what they can do, then you just try to figure out a way to contain them, not really stop them. There’s really no way to stop them, but you figure out a way to slow them down.”

But McCoy, who might be the most candid player in Tampa Bay’s locker room, continued to give one of the best assessments of Brees that I’ve ever heard.

“I think you’ve just got to disrupt him,’’ McCoy said. “Everybody has a weak point, and the weak point, for him, is his height -- he’s a short guy. If you can get in his face, you can slow him down a little bit. That’s why they put so much into their center and two guards, so much emphasis on those guys being good, because if you can protect his middle, he’ll kill you. So that puts a lot on me and the guys in the middle to get in his face.”

That’s all very true. That’s why the play of McCoy and rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence will be so important Sunday when the Bucs host the Saints. Unlike most teams, the Saints build their line from the inside out.

Guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs are the strength of the offensive line. The Saints are very good at keeping the middle of the pocket wide open and giving Brees room to throw.

McCoy and Spence will have to come up with big games if the Bucs are going to have any shot at slowing Brees.