Washington football fans know him well, and now he’s putting the NFL on notice
Before a devastating injury in the fourth quarter, Vita Vea was doing what Washington football fans had seen for three years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers star recorded five tackles and a sack before having to be carted off with a fractured ankle.
Vea had been one of the key pieces on Tampa’s defense which was the best against the run in 2019, and is second-best in the category in 2020. Before drafting Vea in 2018, the Bucs were in the bottom 10 in the NFL in rushing defense. While they finished 22nd in rush defense in 2018, that didn’t have much to do with Vea, who didn’t start for half the season, and missed three games due to injury. He still was able to record 28 tackles and three sacks while battling a calf injury.
When 2019 rolled around, and Vea was declared the full-time starter, he infused life into an awful defense. Not only did Tampa finish with the NFL’s best run defense, but Vea asserted himself as the top-15 pick that he was after a rookie season that was overshadowed with doubt after Derwin James, who most Tampa fans preferred, was named an All-Pro as a rookie. The 340 pounder recorded 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, and even lined up as a fullback and caught a touchdown!
This year, Vea was well on his way to establishing himself as an elite nose tackle, and Thursday’s game against the Bears was his introduction party to a national audience. Recording five tackles and his second sack of the year, he was a dominant force in the trenches.
One of the most interesting things to see on Thursday was how defensive coordinator Todd Bowles utilized Vea as a pass rusher. He displayed incredible power on multiple bull rushes, and even lined him up across from the offensive tackle. He was not only able to record a sack, but collapsed the pocket and forced Nick Foles off his spot on numerous occasions.
His injury is a huge blow to the Tampa Bay defense and to what seemed to be a Pro Bowl campaign for the 6’5, 340-pound nose tackle, but if Husky fans know anything, it’s that nothing can stop Vea from achieving his goals.