The Bucs expect even larger issues from the workforce’s largest participant this yr.
After giving nostril sort out Vita Vea a five-year contract extension that may pay him a mean of $17.775 million per yr, Tampa Bay might want to see extra from him in 2022.
And extra of him.
Vea performed in all however one sport final yr and logged 608 snaps on protection. Tampa Bay’s protection noticed the sector for a complete of 1,093 snaps. Meaning Vea performed 55.6% of downs final yr.
By comparability, three-technique defensive sort out Ndamukong Suh performed 718 snaps for the Bucs in 2021. Suh, who didn’t miss any video games, performed almost 66% of the downs on protection at age 34.
With Tampa Bay possible shifting on from Suh and Vea getting a hefty increase, the Bucs wish to see him on the sector extra typically in 2022.
“With Vita final yr, I wish to say he was averaging wherever between 42 to 50 snaps a sport,” Bucs co-defensive coordinator and line of defense coach Kacy Rodgers stated. “That’s actually sort of the place it must be. We’re on him about presumably getting his situation somewhat higher so he can play extra. A man like that may be so impactful. We would like him on the sector as a lot as we will.”
Rodgers’ numbers had been off. Vea averaged almost 36 snaps per sport final yr, whereas Tampa Bay’s protection averaged 64 performs per sport. Actually, Vea performed 40 snaps or extra in simply 5 video games within the 2021 season.
Probably the most snaps Vea performed was 61 at New Orleans in Week 8. The Bucs protection was on the sector for 76 snaps that sport, and Vea performed 80% of them.
That sport actually skewed his enjoying time proportion. More often than not, Vea was enjoying lower than half of the workforce’s snaps.
Within the playoffs, Vea was solely on the sector for 28 of Tampa Bay’s 66 snaps in opposition to Philadelphia (42.4%) and 34 of the 72 snaps in opposition to Los Angeles (47.2%). In these huge video games, the Bucs’ huge man must be seeing the sector for nearer to two-thirds of the protection’s snaps.
Vea is able to enjoying extra downs. He established a profession excessive with 749 snaps through the 2019 season, enjoying in all 16 video games. But, conditioning has been a problem with the massive, 347-pound defensive sort out.
Final yr throughout coaching camp, former head coach Bruce Arians publicly said that Vea wanted to shed pounds previous to the beginning of the 2021 marketing campaign. In his Tuesday press convention, Rodgers stated the workforce’s coaches need Vea to be in higher situation this fall.
Tampa Bay’s co-defensive coordinator additionally stated that Vea should step up in a management function this season in Suh’s absence.
“Inside, it might be Vita – he must step up and assume the function, which he ought to,” Rodgers stated. “He involves work each day, he’s right here and is aware of what we’ve got to do and get performed. Via attrition, Vita ought to step up into the function up entrance.”
The Bucs want Vea to be extra of a vocal chief, and the most effective place for that to occur is on the sector with extra enjoying time. When he’s on the sector, Vea could be very impactful, evidenced by a three-tackle, two-sack efficiency in a win at Atlanta in Week 12 final yr.
Vea completed the season with a career-high 4 sacks, which aided his Professional Bowl choice. Rodgers believes he ought to double that quantity in 2022.
“I give him a tough time as a result of I’m going into my twentieth season teaching on this league – plenty of them spent up entrance – and he’s in all probability the most important man that performs third down within the historical past of the NFL,” Rodgers stated. “So, the factor is, with  sacks – along with his expertise stage, it ought to have simply been eight. As we went by means of our cut-ups some within the offseason and speaking with him, there are some issues we’ve bought to enhance, however 4.0 [sacks] must be a baseline. He ought to get greater than that as a result of we’re leaving him on the market on third down. He has the expertise to do it.”
Following a Professional Bowl berth and an enormous pay increase, extra is anticipated from Vea in 2022.
“He was going actually good the yr earlier than after which he got here again for the playoff run,” Rodgers stated of Vea. “Then, the best way he performed this previous yr, he was getting increasingly assured because the season went on. He was nonetheless favoring [his ankle] some and knocking the rust off, however because the season completed, I assumed he was enjoying rather well. Now the factor with him, he’s bought to – and I’m harping on him – he’s the most important man on the sector … however he’s bought to play like that on a regular basis.”