If there were any questions to how valuable Vita Vea is to this Bucs defense they should’ve been answered by his return in the playoffs. Just in case they weren’t, Vea put on a clinic in Tampa Bay’s season opening win against the Dallas Cowboys. Constantly pressuring the quarterback to a team high of six total pressures. His 18.2 percent pressure rate on his 33 rushes was also the highest on the team.
Vea told the media just days before the opener that getting after the quarterback consistently is something he and his teammates have been working on all summer.
“This past two months that’s the number one thing coach Kacy[Rodgers] has been harping on us, and the the number one thing we’ve been working on all training camp,” Vea said. “Working moves and trying to rush the passer. We’ve been trying to just take steps and doing better in rushing. Kacy has been on us for trying to get better at doing that and we’ve been improving but still got a lot more work to do.”
Vea is a pivotal part of the Bucs run defense, one that held Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott to only 33 yards. He is showing that he is more than just a big run stuffing nose tackle. Head coach Bruce Arians had high praise for Vea, who had two sacks in an injury-shortened 2020 season, after the game.
“Obviously, everybody thinks of him as a run-stuffer but he’s a hell of a pass-rusher”, Arians said. “He got the one holding; it should have been back-to-back holding penalties. He crushed that guard both times. They called the first one, but they wouldn’t call two in a row. He had a hell of a night.”
Vea’s night on national television is starting to bring him more attention around the league as well. Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner called him, “The best pure nose tackle in the league.” With NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger saying, “No one man can stop his force.” With more games like the one he had to start the season Vea will cement himself as not just the best nose tackle, but as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL today.
J.C. Allen is one of PewterReport.com’s newest beat writers. As a New England transplant, he has closely followed Tom Brady’s entire career and first fell in love with the game during the Patriots 1996 Super Bowl run. J.C. is in his second year covering the team after spending a year with Bucs Report as a writer, producer and show host. Some of his other interests include barbecuing, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. His favorite Buccaneer of all time is Simeon Rice and believes he deserves a spot in Canton. Follow J.C. Allen on Twitter @JCAllenNFL.
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