Vita Vea could be Tampa Bay Buccaneers MVP

In an age when NFL players coordinate their accessories to the last detail, Vita Vea stands out. Unlike his peers who adorn their arms ...


In an age when NFL players coordinate their accessories to the last detail, Vita Vea stands out. Unlike his peers who adorn their arms with colored sleeves or outfit their helmets with tinted visors, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive tackle takes a minimalist approach.

On match days, Vea goes with bare arms and without gloves in battles against offensive linemen. At 6ft 4in and 347lb, he uses his massive frame at will against guards and crosses, pushing them behind the line of scrimmage in quarter turns as if they were rag dolls.

“It just became a habit,” Vea said of the practice, which started with college teammates in Washington. “If I was wearing gloves, I would just feel restricted. “

Pick any Bucs game this season – the opener against the Dallas Cowboys, their demolition of the Atlanta Falcons, or a narrow win over the New England Patriots – and there’s footage of Vea. forcibly moving another adult male from one area to another.

This production doesn’t create any distinctive stats: In four games, Vea has just seven tackles and has yet to register a sack. But the havoc wreaked by an elite indoor lineman by attracting doubles teams and closing the gaps often gives their teammates clear paths to running backs and quarterbacks, for stats that rake in wages and equipment. .

What Vea is good at, and the overwhelming effect it has on a Bucs defense that ranks first in the league in rushing defense, may go unnoticed by casual observers. For coaches and players studying it, however, its value is clear.

“He’s one of the best players in this league,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. He added, “He’s such a tall individual who has such a good ability, such a good movement. It is a problem. This is a real problem.

Inside the defensive line has always been an important position, but unrecognized and unglamorous. Prior to 2017, the last defensive tackle to win the Defensive Player of the Year award was Warren Sapp in 1999. Aaron Donald of the Rams won it in 2017, 2019 and 2020, but he is considered an outlier compared to a traditional indoor lineman due to his abnormal power and speed despite being undersized compared to his peers.

Today, the 10 highest-paid edge rushers average about $ 3 million more per year than the 10 highest-paid defensive tackles, according to overthecap.com.

“The edge rushers get more sacks and more plays, but in the end we all have to work together,” said Vea.

Drafted No.12 overall in 2018, Vea started 24 games in his first two seasons, recording 63 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Last October, Vea broke his ankle when his teammate, linebacker Devin White, crashed against the Chicago Bears. Team staff took Vea off the field and he missed the rest of the regular season. But he came back in the middle of the Bucs’ playoff race and helped hunt down Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl.

Now healthy, Vea rocked the Cowboys offensive line in the league nationwide television season opener. In streak after 315-pound Dallas center Tyler Biadasz smashed the ball, Vea moved it almost 11 yards behind the line of scrimmage to the knees of Dak Prescott, who had to throw the ball to escape from little to a bag.

In the highly publicized Prime time Brady and Belichick game, Vea once stole the show when he shish-kebab to two Patriots linemen Ted Karras (305 pounds) and Isaiah Wynn (310 pounds), clearing a wide path for rookie linebacker Joe Tryon- Shoyinka to easily sack Mac Jones.

Against the Rams, Vea personally prevented two potential touchdowns from DeSean Jackson. In the first quarter, as the Rams faced a third and 10 from their 38-yard line, Vea crushed left guard David Edwards (308 pounds) in the pocket, forcing Matthew Stafford to speed up his shot. He sailed short of Jackson, who had a head start on a safe field. In the second quarter, he battled a double-team Edwards and center Brian Allen (303 pounds), prompting Stafford to miss an open Jackson again.

At times like these, Vea said, he doesn’t realize the amount of force he’s exerting on another very tall human being.

“I have to make the game,” Vea said. “It’s the only thing I can think of. I must be destructive. I have to help somehow.

With Vea plugging the holes and rearranging the offensive lines, opponents have now focused their passing attacks on the young secondary Bucs, who has a slew of injured key starters. Opponents average 47 passing attempts per game and the Bucs allowed 1310 yards, the worst in the NFL, prompting Tampa Bay to add corner veteran Richard Sherman.

To compensate for a group of moving positions, it falls more on the Tampa Bay pass rush to reach opposing quarterbacks. That includes Vea, who coach Bruce Arians says may be even better than he has been.

“I would just like to see him finish more because he’s been close to eight or nine times,” Arians added. “He’s one of those guys who could have multi-sack games. He’s getting closer, he’s better.

If Arians is right, Vea could be on the verge of stepping out of the shadows.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Vita Vea could be Tampa Bay Buccaneers MVP
Vita Vea could be Tampa Bay Buccaneers MVP
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