The most important player for the Buccaneers in their prime-time matchup against the Cowboys at Jerry World on Sunday night may prove to be a player who wasn’t on the roster on opening day and has played just 24 snaps since he was signed off the street a month ago.
The player we’re talking about is defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.
[graphiq id=”29V8sMMzk3P” title=”Sealver Siliga Profile” width=”640″ height=”625″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/29V8sMMzk3P” ]
Now, if you’re a die-hard Bucs fan and you didn’t even know Siliga was on the roster, don’t feel bad. His arrival at One Buc Place came in the wake of his release by the Seahawks and went more or less unnoticed. That said, it’s pretty hard not to notice Siliga.
At 345 pounds Siliga (pronounced Suh-Ling-ah) is easily the biggest player on the team and while he hasn’t played a big role in the three games he’s played for the Buccaneers this year that could change when the Bucs take the field against the Cowboys.
You see, Siliga is a run stopper, plain and simple. There’s nothing real fancy about his game. As you might expect with a player his size, he sets up in the middle of the line, takes up a lot of space and makes it hard for offensive linemen to move him out of the way.
Note that we used the word linemen in that last sentence, as in more than one. There’s a reason for that and if his size doesn’t make it obvious we’ll let the player Siliga will usually be working alongside on Sunday, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, explain.
“He’s like three people,” McCoy said. “Seriously, if you see him in practice or in a game, he takes two grown men and just holds them in place. It’s like, ‘How can you do that?’ He doesn’t get moved. He’s always in place.’ He’s a big help for us.’’
Siliga could prove to be a big help to the Bucs on Sunday and here’s why. For all the talk about rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, the key to the Cowboys success this year, at least offensively, has been the play of rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott will go into Sunday’s game with leading the league in rushing with 1,392 yards and with a league-leading 4.9-yards-per-carry average and 107.1-yards-per-game average. Stopping him will be critical to the Bucs chances of winning this game. That’s where Siliga comes in.
“He’s a big strong man that requires four hands (to move),’’ Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith said. “He’s not a guy that you’re going to be able to single block and that’s going to give us an opportunity to get some other guys free to the football.
“(Siliga) has been limited (in previous games) simply because of the type of teams we’ve played, but we know in December, it’s usually the teams that run the best and the teams that stop the run the best that are the most successful.’’
There’s no doubt the Cowboys will try to run right away and Siliga will be in the middle waiting…and hard to miss.