Start With No. 50

May 16th, 2019

BY IRA KAUFMAN

He was drafted to be Tampa Bay’s version of Haloti Ngata.

Now’s the time.

As Tampa Bay’s dreary 2018 season progressed, Vita Vea showed signs that he’s a keeper. He started making plays in the backfield, manhandling centers and guards after Jason Licht and the coaching staff suggested he play with more physicality.

To say the Bucs need him to make an impact this fall is akin to saying Tampa Bay’s schedule is a tad challenging. With Jason Pierre-Paul recovering from a fractured neck and Gerald McCoy’s status uncertain, it is Vea who needs to show the way up front for a battered defense

Ngata’s shadow hangs over a 24-year-old defensive tackle who blocks out the sun and will be tasked with taking on two blockers when the Bucs utilize their new 3-man front.

Vea is used to playing in heavy traffic after lining up at nose tackle in the University of Washington’s 3-4 alignment and wrecking offensive game plans.

Vita Vea

If Todd Bowles is determined to build this defensive scheme around the talent available at One Buc Place, he needs to start with No. 50.

Slowed by a calf injury three days into training camp, Vea started the final six games as a rookie and provided Buc fans with some hope. He posted three tackles for loss against the 49ers and was credited with nine tackles against the Ravens.

That’s a big number for any interior lineman.

Triple Threat

In retrospect, that calf strain on the first day pads came on was far worse than anticipated. Vea was expected to miss a few weeks, but he didn’t suit up until Week 4 of the regular season, an embarrassing loss at Chicago.

Vea kept struggling to disengage from blocks until he got the message — you’re not in the Pac-12 anymore and you need to raise your game.

Bruce Arians, who has compared Vea’s imposing size and skill package to Ngata’s, saw enough on tape to dream a little dream about the big man, especially after watching him on the field.

“Well, he can play three positions for sure,” Arians says. “He can play five techniques, he can play three techniques and he can play nose. For him, I had to say, ‘whoa’, I hate to say ‘sic ‘em’, but I like saying ‘whoa’, and for him just ‘whoa, slow down right there, you don’t need to be knocking guys back into the quarterback today.’ He’s a very, very talented young man and does lots of things.”

Ngati is a heck of a role model.

Like Vea, Ngati was selected with the 12th overall pick of his draft class (2006). He made five consecutive Pro Bowls for the Ravens, registering 18.5 sacks in that span while averaging 53 tackles and 10 QB hits.

Twice, Ngati was voted one of the NFL’s Top 20 players and he earned two first-team All-Pro honors as Baltimore’s immovable object in the middle.

Ngati retired in March and now Vea is poised to walk in those big cleats.

Is it fair to expect a second-year pro to play like an elite defensive lineman? No, but who said anything about being fair?

Todd Bowles should be smiling

This defense needs some young players to show why they were drafted with premium picks. Vernon Hargreaves comes to mind, along with Vea, Justin Evans and Noah Spence.

Vea can make a huge difference, working in front of Lavonte David and Devin White while keeping them clean to showcase their quickness to the football.

The NFL has seen the last of Haloti Ngata. He’s done. An outstanding career has come to an end.

Vita Vea is just getting started.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985, and the corporate leash finally was removed from his neck when he joined JoeBucsFan.com in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. All of Ira’s work is presented by Ed Morse Cadillac Tampa and Ed Morse Cadillac Brandon. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV. Don’t miss him weekly on TAMPA TWO with Derrick Brooks, a production of The Identity Tampa Bay and JoeBucsFan.

56 Responses to “Start With No. 50”

  1. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I just heard that Steve Duemig is dead 🙁

    [Can you at least offer up who/where you heard this from? Can’t find this anywhere. — Joe]

  2. Maze Says:

    And Patrick Peterson is a cheater

  3. NOSBOS Says:

    I love all my guys but Vita is my favorite. Ira he will more than fill those shoes. By season’s end Aaron Donald will no longer be the unanimous best Dlinemen in the NFL.

  4. D-Rome Says:

    Joe, Charlie Belcher of Fox 13 just reported it.

    Big Dog was the first sports talk radio person I listened to when I moved to Florida. While I didn’t always agree with his opinions, in particular against Joe Maddon, I always respected him and enjoyed his show. I am very saddened to hear this news.

  5. D-Rome Says:

    Joe,

    While I truly enjoy the Ira Kaufman podcast I loved, LOVED, the JoeBucsFan show you did with Steve Duemig. I never missed it.

  6. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    @Joe
    My friend Kevin Rowe heard it on the radio

    Kevin Rowe
    30 mins ·
    RIP Steve Duemig.

    1Chris Tucker
    2 Comments
    Sad
    Comment
    Comments
    Melissa Cone
    Melissa Cone Noooo!!!!!
    Hide or report this
    Like
    · Reply · 13m
    Kevin Rowe
    Kevin Rowe Melissa Cone just heard it on the radio.
    Hide or report this
    Like
    · Reply · 12m

  7. Joe Says:

    While I truly enjoy the Ira Kaufman podcast I loved, LOVED, the JoeBucsFan show you did with Steve Duemig. I never missed it.

    It was fun. 🙁

  8. Joe Says:

    Thanks.

  9. NOSBOS Says:

    And that’s why I was bullish on Devin,because Vita is going to allow him to play clean.

  10. El Buco Realisto Says:

    For those who don’t have anything nice to say. Don’t say anything!!!!!! So in passing, I will just say…………………………………..

  11. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Vea will make GMC a distant memory.

  12. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Damn that sucks. RIP

  13. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    RIP…a horrible way to go…sad day in the bay…I’d like to hear his bumper music maybe Joe can get permission to play it…620 guys were fumbling the tribute show

  14. The Buc Realist Says:

    @joe

    moving the chains are breaking down pass rush for the NFC South right now!!!!!!! they are lambasting the BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2019 will reveal answers to the sheep, that the “real” fans already know!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. miken Says:

    hope IRA didn’t trade for Patrick P yet!!!

  16. Joe Says:

    moving the chains are breaking down pass rush for the NFC South right now!!!!!!! they are lambasting the BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    They should!

  17. K2 Says:

    Great article Ira…first class. It is right on target…much more like your usual. Let’s forget yesterday’s trade call…everyone has bad ideas.

  18. Doctor_berto Says:

    Cant wait to watch Vea and White this season. Hopefully both can turn into All-Pros

  19. NotAFan Says:

    [You are right. Am deleting this. Not because of protecting Steve. He’s gone. But saving you the embarrassment of looking like a complete and total ass in front of the Tampa Bay community. You can thank Joe later. — Joe]

  20. NOSBOS Says:

    I wonder how Moving The Chains feels about the pats passrush. Oh I forgot they normally don’t have one but continue to win superbowls every year ranking near the bottom of the league in that pointless @$$ stat called a sack.

  21. NOSBOS Says:

    Berto they will,cause one is about to play directly off the mayhem caused by the other. It’s similar to Ray Lewis having played behind Big Tony Siragusa and John Henderson.

  22. NOSBOS Says:

    Oh folks don’t come in here expecting double digit pointless sacks from Vea next season. That’s not his job,I’ll be paying closer attention to his tackles for loss.

  23. Joe Says:

    I wonder how Moving The Chains feels about the pats passrush. Oh I forgot they normally don’t have one but continue to win superbowls every year ranking near the bottom of the league in that pointless @$$ stat called a sack.

    That’s a complete wives tale. You do know they had a double-digit sack guy last year, right? Guess which team had the most sacks in the playoffs last year? Yup, the Belicheats.

    But sure, they don’t have a pass rush. smh

    #Fail

  24. D-Rome Says:

    I wonder how Moving The Chains feels about the pats passrush. Oh I forgot they normally don’t have one but continue to win superbowls every year ranking near the bottom of the league in that pointless @$$ stat called a sack.

    Whatever dude. The Patriots probably have more Super Bowl wins than the Bucs have had winning seasons since 2002.

  25. AlteredEgo Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    NOSBOS Says:
    May 16th, 2019 at 3:46 pm
    Berto they will,cause one is about to play directly off the mayhem caused by the other. It’s similar to Ray Lewis having played behind Big Tony Siragusa and John Henderson..
    .
    .
    Tony Saragossa….LOL…that play when he picked up the QB took a step or two and then did a belly flop on the truff with the QB under him…Oh..that would cause heads to explode today…
    the other thing about him if you ever saw him live on the field …his calf’s were about the size of 5 gallon buckets

  26. The Buc Realist Says:

    @D-rome

    its tied at 5 a piece since 2002!!!!! Pats 5 superbowl wins, Bucs 5 winning seasons!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. T REX Says:

    RIP Steve

  28. NOSBOS Says:

    Well tell me where they ranked thru out the season smart guy??? The fact that they may have gameplanned to be more progressive in that department tells me all those DBs they run onto the football field helps a great deal with their pass rush.

  29. Bird Says:

    I wouldn’t bet against Vea next year.

    He is in better shape , gotten used to Florida heat, knows how
    To be a pro and is most importantly “healthy “

    Reporter for
    Buccaneers home site reported a play on first day of OTA that seemed “hulkish” – not
    Possible for a man his size.

  30. 813bucboi Says:

    The Buc Realist Says:
    June 21st, 2018 at 6:48 pm
    Huge pass to the coaching staff issued by the “real” Buc fans!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!

  31. NOSBOS Says:

    You not gone tell me the ranking Joe??? Did you watch the pats playoffs games??? Those were hardly determined by sacks. If Dee Ford doesn’t mysteriously line up off sides they prolly don’t go back to the Super Bowl. If Girly wasn’t on one leg they prolly been more than 13 points to win that game. Their success wasn’t a result of leading the league sacks during the playoffs dude.

  32. down in the dirt doug Says:

    Was wondering the other day how Steve was doing—it is a sad day in Tampa Bay.

  33. westernbuc Says:

    Perfect time to trade for Patrick Peterson!

  34. Steven007 Says:

    Wasn’t a fan of his show but respect to Duemig. It’s how I found JBF. I know the Joe’s were friends however and I’m sorry for their loss

  35. No Risk It No Biscuit Says:

    RIP Steve

  36. christopher Says:

    with his quickness, he’s playing 3 and Beau’s playing nose I bet.

  37. doctor_berto Says:

    NOSBOS, are you seriously trying to argue that sacks dont matter? lol Did you watch Von Miller take over the playoffs? News flash, most teams arent the patriots and cant overcome deficiencies on the d line. The Bucs are not the Pats and dont have Brady or Belicheat. They need to pressure the qb and get his ass on the ground if they want to have any chance of winning.

  38. wantstastayabuc Says:

    RIP Steve
    He had passion for the game.

  39. adam from ny Says:

    #RipBigDog

  40. Rod Munch Says:

    Vita had like one very good game against San Fran, which was playing a backup offensive lineman and literally like a 5th string QB. After that he was fine – but I don’t get this narrative that he’s a sure fire star based off what is basically one standout game. Now, with that said, he was a rookie and you shouldn’t ever expect much from rookies, and that’s why people calling him a bust, and d-bags like the fatso on the radio nicknaming him velcro were morons.

    But as far as the pass rush goes, Vita averaged 3.5 sacks a year in college and had less sacks last year than Derwin James. I just don’t know why people think he’s going to be a stud in the passing game – there’s literally no evidence to support that and not history of production. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad player or a bust, but in a 3-4 defense I’m guessing he’s primarily the run stuffing clog in the middle who will occasionally get a sack.

    If I’m wrong, if he’s the next McCoy, then fantastic – the Bucs got an amazing deal in the draft. But to count on that is nonsense.

  41. LakeLand Says:

    Derwin James
    1st team All-Pro

  42. Bird Says:

    Patrick Peterson busy for PED

    Serving 6 game suspension
    Do Bucs pounce ?

  43. Bird Says:

    Busted

  44. NOSBOS Says:

    Never said they don’t matter berto,I just feel they’re highly overrated. Sack fumbles on the other hand nothing overrated about those. Joe mentioned the pats led league in the playoffs in sacks. Tell me in your opinion which of those games outcome was determined by sacks???

  45. Erik Hesson - Fine Artist - City of St Pete (formerly known as 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs Fans) Says:

    Mark this down.

    Vita Vea and Devin White will be 2 real DPOY candidates for the Bucs within the next 2-3 seasons and they will be dominant starting this season.

  46. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Thoughts and prayers with the BigDog’s family. Very sad news.

  47. SCBucsFan Says:

    LakeLand if your such a James fan go root for the Chargers. You are your constant negativity won’t be missed. At all.

  48. LakeLand Says:

    Lol,

    Yucs been losing so much
    Their fans are hating on the success of other teams/players

  49. LakeLand Says:

    Derwin James

    1st team All-Pro

  50. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    LakeLand you are a loser.

  51. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    I love defense. I’m happy watching a 7-6 nail-biter. I love defensive line most of all. Especially tackles who spend most of their careers doing the dirty work while others get all of the glory. Nobody loves football more, than a guy who knows he’ll never get recognition for most of what he does, but does it anyway, because the team needs him to. You have to love football to like doing that.

    This is the first piece that I’ve read this year that gave me a little kick of adrenaline. Thanks, Ira!

  52. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    AlteredEgo Says:
    “…his calf’s were about the size of 5 gallon buckets”
    .
    .
    LOL
    They had to be to carry his fat a$$ around.

  53. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    NOSBOS Says:
    “Tell me in your opinion which of those games outcome was determined by sacks???”
    .
    .
    I’ve got to disagree with you this time. You’re the right that the Pats aren’t known for their D-line play, but this season’s playoffs were different. It was generally agreed (on these JBF pages) that in this Super Bowl, especially, a ball control game plan (which is out of character for Belicheat) and superior offensive and defensive line play are what won it for the Pats.

  54. D1 Says:

    BCP,

    You’re right but that’s not what NOSBOS is focused on. He’s been consistent with his comments and they’re fairly concise and very narrowly focused. His point is sacks are overrated. Overrated by themselves or better put, looking at strictly sacks is missing a broader view of the game.

    To my recollection, I don’t think he’s ever pointed out that the Patriots defensive line play was sub par , his point is that sacks , which to some fans, is not, nor should they be, the sole focus.

    Did sacks win the game for the pats, no. But there’s no denying pressure played a huge and decisive role in the outcome. Unfortunately, pressures on the QB isn’t in the discussion as it’s been so far a rather black and white debate. Sacks vs no sacks.

    Is that a realistic debate? Heck no. But it’s the way fans tend to find sides of an issue by focusing in on one thing as if it’s isolated from the whole. Can’t change human nature.

    Case in point, the bucs got their double digit sack guy finally and what difference did it have on the overall win totals from the previous years. The Rams and Pats ranked 31st and 32nd in total sacks last year. Both teams played in the superbowl.

  55. Reach87 Says:

    D1, well said. Go Bucs!

  56. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    @D1

    Gotcha. I guess I missed a lot of the convo.
    Go Bucs!