Warren Sapp Blames Defensive Tackles For Bucs’ Run-Game Failures

October 15th, 2022

Vita Vea

When Hall of Fame former Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp watches the Tampa Bay defense, his eyes zero in on the position he played.

And Sapp isn’t feeling it.

The Bucs run defense went from truly legendary in 2019 and 2020 to well above average last season. This year? It’s been average at best.

Sapp hopped on The Rich Eisen Show this week and pointed a finger newcomer DT Akiem Hicks for not being ready at the snap of the football, and Sapp also said he’s seeing Pro Bowl DT Vita Vea blown off the ball in ways not seen before.

Never much of a Ndamukong Suh fan, Sapp surprised Joe when he acknowledged to Eisen that Suh and the “younger” version of Vea did special things when paired together in the belly of the Bucs’ run defense.

Suh, of course, has no NFL team this season after the Bucs decided to pay Hicks rather than retain him.

Vea? Joe’s not hanging what ails the Bucs run defense on him, but Vea hasn’t been the same kind of force seen in past seasons.

Plenty of time left in 2022 for the Bucs to at least get their run defense back to last year’s level. The Bucs are allowing 115 yards rushing per game, up 24 yards from last season’s average.

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35 Responses to “Warren Sapp Blames Defensive Tackles For Bucs’ Run-Game Failures”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The numbers indicate it’s not as bad as it looks. Guess we got spoiled

  2. LakelandSteve Says:

    Can’t agree more with Sapp on this one. Hicks has been one of the biggest disappointments this year along with Julio Jones. I can almost give Julio a pass because I think Julio not panning out wouldn’t be a huge shock. But the Bucs put all of their fish in the Akiem Hicks barrel to help hold down the defensive line. Maybe Hicks can come back at some point and play well and make it through the season but I think the Bucs may have been hosed on this guy too.

  3. Redeemer Says:

    Sapp’s commentary makes sense. Bowles defense is predicted on lineman tying up blockers, so the linebackers can flow to the football. Vea has been pushed around, and his performance in the KC game was down right sad. Not sure Suh would make a whole lot of difference at this point. Sometimes numbers just come back to earth. A HUGE factor in the great run defense the last two years, was the offense hanging 30 on every opponent. If you’re down two TDs, it’s hard to commit to the run

  4. unbelievable Says:

    Vea has looked soft and unmotivated this season.

    A dud this size should not be getting pushed around, yet he is. As a rookie he was frequently moving 2 guys at once.

    Massively disappointing so far, IMO

  5. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Last year was not as good at all compared to 2019, and 2020 run D. But falling off a cliff is a good way to describe what has happened in 2022. The stats do say it is bad, back to back games giving up 150+, is ugly, no putting maskara on a pig to hide to hide those numbers. Joe if you mean you were surprised that Sapp acknowledged what is obvious ok, because I have stated the very same thing about Suh and Vea. 2019 Run Defense was top 4 since the merger in 1970, 4th best in 49 years at that point . And Joe you can keep saying whatever you want about Suh not playing for anybody this year, but it is staring everyone in the face the value of Suh to the Bucs defense. You said you do not see it, well Sapp and other fans have been seeing it for this season. Is it possible you can talk with Suh, and see whats up? Does he even want to play now? Most likely it was money. My brother in law is a Vikings fan and he was asking me about Suh when the Vikings were talking to Suh this last offseason. I said sign Suh, he is still a decent player. Well we can all see what happened to this Defense without Suh, they are very vulnerable to the Run. And just look how Vea is playing without Suh. All Vea ever knew as a Buc was lining up next to Big Girl, lol as Vea calls Suh. Again Joe can you maybe see what Suh is thinking.

    GO BUCS!!!!

  6. Colonel Angus Says:

    Bucs have the 6th ranked Defense. Keep stopping the pass and they’ll be fine. Once the Offense starts to click, look out.

  7. 97 bucBaby Says:

    If devin white knew how to wrap tackle instead of whiff tackle we’d be in good grace.

  8. Miller5252 Says:

    Hicks was playing g early on and the stance he takes looks like he’ll never go anywhere. Supposed D lineman with pass rush skills and he would line up like he was taking a nap. Need a trade for a DE and maybe a good DT. I agree, Vea has been getting blown up. I hope he starts becoming a monster again.

  9. SOEbuc Says:

    I have been frustrated with run game and Hicks early, but what did the guy play? 2-3 games? So I can’t totally throw him under the bus and certainly not Vea. Whitehead was a nice piece of run defense.

  10. Buc4evr Says:

    No kidding. Vea needs help…. SUH!

  11. My Momma Says:

    My Momma has been wondering if Vea is hurt the way he’s been handled by a single lineman. My Momma used to marvel at how Vea could beat and push a double team back into the opposing QB’s lap.

  12. sasquatch Says:

    Vea is lighter this year. He’s easier to move out of the way at this weight.

  13. Goatfarmer Says:



    No Suh = dumb.

  14. Redeemer Says:

    sasquatch, he better start eating, cuz the sledding ain’t getting easier down the stretch. I like the Dr. Nick diet from the Simpsons. Rub the food on paper, if it turns clear, it’s your window to weight gain.

  15. Redeemer Says:

    GF, is that an alliteration, a soliloquy, or scrabble. I ain’t edumacated, but makes sense.

  16. Goatfarmer Says:

    Redeemer – it’s a haiku.

  17. Sucatkane Says:

    Lmao vea looks soft omg I’ve watched his plays he is double triple teamed losing suh hurt us but I don’t think we have to be the best run defense when we want to be overall and not get destroyed by every pass

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Sapp actually knows what he’s talking about – if you think otherwise, you probably think Chris Conte and Ryan Smith were gonna be stars.

    As for Vita, his biggest issue, in addition to getting pushed around this year, is that he still is nothing more than a 2-down player who takes off a ton of snaps. Last week, the Falcons drive down the field and at near the goal line, guess who isn’t in the game because he’s morbidly obese and out of breath.

    Again, again, again, lose some weight. He’s not 350 – that’s what he weighed in peak condition at the combine. The guy is like 370 or 380, and the way he’s getting pushed around this year, it seems like most of that is blubber. If he got down to an in-shape 330, he’d actually live up to all the hype that is around him instead of just making some meaningless tackle in the 2nd quarter of a game on 1st down that everyone holds up as being a big deal.

    I don’t dislike Vita — I want more of Vita on the field, and the only way to do that is for him to lose a few dozen layers of lard.

  19. steele Says:

    Sapp knows what he’s talking about. But we know it, too and film don’t lie. Suh’s absence is huge. For those who keep insisting Suh was washed and undeserving, fine, Bucs had countless opportunities to replace him properly and creatively, and did not do the job. Earlier in free agency, there were top DTs and edge rushers, and Bucs should have grabbed a couple of them.

    Instead, gambles that haven’t paid off. Logan Hall is a rook, and is far from a one-shot instant impact Suh replacement. Hicks was never a perfect one-shot replacement for Suh, either, but they took the risk that he’d stay on the field, and they have lost that bet. Vea has been awful.

    Poor run D, poor pass rush, injuries. And still no moves.

  20. Kody Says:


  21. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    Goatfarmer Says:
    “it’s a haiku.”

    Haiku 5-7-5
    GaiFu 1-1-5

  22. garro Says:

    I put this on the linebackers not Vea. Vea is taking on double teams as he should in this defense He is not making a ton of tackles though and not getting the push that we are used to seeing from him. Improved in the Falcons game. He misses Hicks having to be accounted for as he misses Suh for the same reason. But the backers are not filling consistantly. They are overrunning plays and not meeting runners in the hole.

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs are 3-2 but have lost to 2 solid teams who whooped us with fairly balanced (albeit different) attacks that allowed them to control the TOP.

    o Kansas City (4-1): ran 37 times for 189 yds & went 23-of-37 for 249 yds passing (48% run-pass ratio). They had the ball for almost 38 mins TOP & scored 41 points. Duh.

    o Green Bay (3-2): ran 25 times for 67 yds & went 27-of-35 for 255 yds passing (41% run-pass ratio). They had the ball for well over 33 mins TOP but scored only 14 points.

    Our defense played tough against the Packers (allowing only 14 points), but got trounced by the Chiefs (allowing 41 points). Both teams used their running attack effectively I thought to stay unpredictable & keep us off-balance. Other teams will attempt to do the same (the blueprint’s there now). Bucs need to shore up our DLine quickly or it’ll be a loooong season. Quickest way to do that? Yup, sign Suh.

  24. Hodad Says:

    Our LBs White, and David haven’t been at their best against the run either. Overall, not getting much splash plays from either of them. Aside from White getting some sacks, both players haven’t been doing enough of anything else. Passes defensed, forced fumbles, picks, fumble recoveries? Crickets.

  25. BucU Says:

    Maybe that C on Vitas jersey went to his head a bit.

  26. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There are plenty of teams that have the money to sign Suh…..don’t know why they haven’t …..we’re one of them.

  27. LongSeason Says:

    Suh would be better than anyone currently on the Bucs roster. He makes Vita a better player. Chemistry makes all the difference in the world. Hicks and Vea do not have chemistry when Hicks is in. Now he is out and there is no chemistry between Vea and the other linemen. Bring back Suh.

  28. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    I have been preaching Sapp’s commentary for months , because it is painfully obvious that removing Suh has been a colossal mistake by Jason Licht and one that he refuses to correct so far……

  29. Hunter's Crack Pipe Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says:
    “There are plenty of teams that have the money to sign Suh…..don’t know why they haven’t …..”

    During the off-season, Such posted on social media a desire to return to the Bucs. I know that he has had talks with other teams, but is it possible that he really only wants to play here?

  30. View from 132 Says:

    Ha! Sapp talking about the run game? Does he forget Brad Culpepper and then McFarland did that work for him so he could load until dance sack time?

  31. Kno one Says:

    Not making an offer to Jordan Whitehead then signing keanu neal MISTAKE#1, thinking joe tryon could fill JPP’s shoes would be #2, then to let SUH go and sign Akiem Hicks definitely#3 ..not only did the original players out work these new guys- BUT They did so playing thru injuries too.. whoever is responsible for these changes should be fired immediately

  32. lambchop Says:

    @Kno one,

    All of those decisions were to either unload some cash or get younger. You can’t replace 3 starters and expect to get someone cheaper, younger, and a baller. It’s just not that simple.

    Suh was good at one thing, run stop. But, they want more QB pressure. If your offense (last 2 years) is scoring in the 30s, run stop is not a priority any more. It is this year because the offense is struggling. But, if we start scoring again, nobody will complain about the run defense. We will always complain about the pass rush though.

    But, Vita Vea is still overpaid and overrated.

  33. TampabayDJ82 Says:

    Yes the Bucs sure pulled a head scratcher in signing Hicks over Suh !! I mean the numbers are there for the average fan to see , GAMES PLAYED ! Hicks is a injury waiting to happen when he’s healthy , he HAD 1 GOOD YEAR with the Bears ! Suh is the model of consistency health wise and play wise . I’m more concerned about this Oline that is going to get Brady hurt before the end of the year. Bucs NEED to be on the phone looking to bring back Joe Hegg or however you spell it , but the guy is sitting on the Browns bench and is a starting caliber Tackle or Guard . He played great for us the last few years and in the Super Bowl run . Go get him and another guy to shore up this Oline or the season is going to be a huge disappointment for us all and there will be no talking Brady into coming back. Gronk should be another priority. SUH , 2 OLINE GUYS at the very least. Go Bucs

  34. Rudy Says:

    Let me just throw this out there: if it weren’t for Suh, we would not have had that one last dramatic chance against the Rams last year, where we kept telling the Rams to keep the ball and win. Suh created the strip-sack for a turnover, and was the main run stopper with Vea. Vea alone gets doubled, pushed aside, and quits while all the other expensive tackles struggle. Only our d backs get in and sack on that advantage. Also, McCoy wanted to come back to us this year. Licht chose Hicks. I have not even seen Hicks in a single pile up or heard his name called. This was really poor decisionmaking by the front office that looked good but blew up really bad. Either fix it now or let Tom ride off into his Wednesdays off permanently so we can take our medicine before the cancer starts.

  35. Joe M Says:

    Blame this crappy defense on Mr. D himself. Robles
    Where’s the passion? Top five NFL coaches are running up and down the field. TB …aka…mr.cool. has no valid reason for the crappy defense because he is the worst head coach in the NFL. Players play off of their head coach. His position was political all the way. Arians still retained as a advisor? What the hellish the front office doing? .