Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea key to defense’s success

Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

In front of a worldwide audience in Super Bowl LV, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense put on a show in front of the world that they as a unit are a force to be reckoned with. The Buccaneers defense made life miserable for Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In the three playoff games prior, they did the same to Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Taylor Heinicke. Three of these are on the fast track to Canton, and it’s safe to assume which ones.

The point is, each performance by the Bucs defense was more impressive than the last. Headed into 2021, the Buccaneers should be overwhelming favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions, especially when you consider that all 22 starters are returning, and the defense has been red (pewter) hot. After all, as the saying goes, defense wins championships. Having, hopefully, a full season of one defender, in particular, is the key to the defense, and ultimately the team’s success.

That player for the Buccaneers is Vita Vea.

Vita Vea, full name Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea, is the motor that makes the well-oiled machine that is this defense go. Simply put, Vea brings the juice. Vea’s numbers won’t exactly pop off the stat sheet when it comes to tackle and sack quantity, but his presence goes beyond that. For starters, the gargantuan Vea is usually swallowing up two or three blockers at a time, which allows the rest of the front seven to eat. If you’re a stats stickler though, try this one on for size:

Not too shabby. Now while he didn’t have a tackle in the NFC Championship, and only had one in the Super Bowl, it’s hard to argue with those numbers when it comes to the overall team production. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. When Vea is at the table, the whole defense feasts.

The Buccaneers’ defense is better when Vea is on the field, and they should honestly be fortunate they had him during the postseason. Putting it mildly, it’s pretty much a medical marvel Vea was able to come back at all. The fracture he suffered on his right leg and ankle during the Buccaneers’ week five defeat against the Chicago Bears was gruesome, but he was still able to become an unlikely participant in the grandest stage of them all, the Super Bowl. Vea is built different.

Going into 2021, the Buccaneers are hoping to have a full season of Vea, who will come into training camp rested after a full offseason to heal and rehab. With Vea’s impact benefitting the rest of the defense, eventually, offenses will have to scheme around some of the more known or “brighter” stars on the defense. This will allow Vea to truly shine, and perhaps even fulfill his potential as being an All-Pro in this league. The Buccaneers should expect more defensive success in 2021 and beyond, and they’ll have Vita Vea to thank.

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