Do you favor the do-everything outside linebacker who made NFL history at his position by combining six sacks with five interceptions? Or do you think it all starts up front with the pass-rushing defensive tackle who disrupted many plays before they even got to the second level?
Well, according to Pro Football Focus, this is a debate that has implications beyond the Buccaneers' own trophy case.
The folks at PFF spend the NFL season analyzing the work of every player in every game, using their own grading system. Since all the players at any given position are judged by the same criteria and assigned numerical grades on the same scale, they can be ranked in terms of their productivity each week. For instance, PFF posts a "Team of the Week" each week during the season (McCoy was an obvious choice and fullback
Those same grades accumulate during the season and form the basis of PFF's decision-making when naming its choices for the annual awards, such as Most Valuable Player and the All-Rookie Team. On Tuesday, Pro Football Focus weighed on the Defensive Player of the Year award, and that's where the debate between David and McCoy comes into play.
PFF's choice for the Defensive Player of the Year is Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, a repeat choice from 2012. Second on the list is St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn, who racked up 19.0 sacks and a league-leading 91 quarterback pressures. Only two other players were identified as being in the running for the award: second and third runners-up Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David of the Buccaneers.
PFF notes that McCoy finished the season with 80 total quarterback pressures, the fifth-best mark in the NFL and the best by far from an interior defensive lineman. Meanwhile, David is ranked first in the PFF rankings in terms of both pass rush productivity and run-stop percentage.
The two Buccaneer teammates have something else in common with Watt and Quinn, other than their inclusion on this list. All four players are 25 years old or younger and entered the league since the 2010 draft. All four are clearly still very much on the rise, and that's good news for their three teams…and doubly good news for the Buccaneers.