Yaya Diaby sends a stern message to critics who are ‘asleep’ on the Buccaneers

As if we all needed another reason to love Yaya Diaby.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Yaya Diaby is already taking shots at critics saying his team won’t compete in 2024.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Yaya Diaby is already taking shots at critics saying his team won’t compete in 2024. / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Less than a year ago, Yaya Diaby seemed to be just another guy in the linebacker room trying to make his way as a rookie. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare for training camp, he’s proven himself to be a focal and vocal part of the defense.

Diaby emerged as one of the Bucs’ top rookies last season, arguably having as much success if not more than Calijah Kancey. Those two led the charge on a stellar class of young players who helped usher Tampa Bay into a new era after Tom Brady retired, leading the team all the way to the NFC Divisional Round and nearly to the conference championship.

Even though the Bucs accomplished so much last season, critics and experts have already been quick to essentially write them off. The common refrain seems to be that not enough moves were made to keep pace with the Falcons and Saints — despite the fact that neither have managed to win the NFC South since 2020.

Diaby isn’t letting that go unchecked, though, and has already stepped up to defend his team and call out the doubters.

Yaya Diaby warns critics against sleeping on the Buccaneers defense

A lot has been made about Tampa Bay’s offense, from re-signing Baker Mayfield to bringing back Mike Evans, but it’s the defense that Diaby wants to shine a light on.

“I just feel like a lot of people are asleep on Tampa’s defense, but I feel like this year, we’re going to really,” Diaby said.

He’s not wrong.

The Bucs defense has been crushed under the weight of expectations everyone seems to have for the offense. Even the way the 2020 Super Bowl team is talked about is a slight against the defense, as the narrative seems to be that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs lost rather than the Buccaneers defense smothered them in the biggest game of the year.

Diaby isn’t just clapping back at critics for the sake of doing so. He used the opportunity to gas up his teammates, many of whom are often at the sharp end of national criticism.

“It’s great, man, having guys like Calijah [Kancey] with me, you got Logan Hall, even Vita [Vea] -- he’s a vet, but you know you’ve got to love Vita,” Diaby said of his teammates. “You’ve got Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka], and all the young guys, and we just got Chris Braswell, and it’s just awesome, man.

Tampa Bay’s defense is the reason the team didn’t collapse during a 1-6 stretch in the middle of last season. There were, and still are, things that the unit needs to do better but if there’s a reason the Bucs have had a fighting chance these past few years it’s because of the defensive side of the ball.

Diaby emerged as a rising star last season and is in for a potential breakout year. He’s already won over Buccaneers fans and it’s clear he’s doing himself some big favors in the locker room with comments like this.

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