Lost amid all the flap over wide out Mike Evans explanation for ending his sit-down protest of President-elect Donald Trump earlier this week was the Bucs successful claim of defensive tackle Sealver Siliga off waivers from the Seahawks.
It’s not hard to see why. Siliga (whose full name is pronounced Silver Suh-LING-ah) has had a pretty non-descript NFL career, playing in just 30 games across five seasons for three different teams, including the Patriots and Broncos.
Siliga, however, brings to the Bucs two things they are in seemingly short supply of, and that’s size and run-stopping ability. At 6-foot-2 and 345 pounds, Siliga is a massive man who has remained employed because of his knack for clogging up the middle rush lanes.
And boy, do the Bucs ever need someone who can clog up the middle rush lanes. In their last three games, opponents have gouged the Bucs defensive front by directing 44 runs between the tackles, gaining 255 yards or 5.79 yards per carry off those runs.
It hasn’t just been a steady hammering either. The Raiders, Falcons and Bears have combined to break off nine runs of 10 yards or more, including four of 13 or more a week ago by rookie Jordan Howard, whose 15-carry, 100-yard gashing of the Bucs all bur prompted the Siliga signing.
“We were trying to get a little more size in the interior,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said of the signing. “And Sealver has played a lot of ball. We actually had him in here for a workout a couple weeks ago.
“He’s been back and forth, Seattle, then with a couple of other teams. I think Jason’s been following him for a while, last time we let it slip away. So when we got the opportunity this time we jumped on it.”
Siliga may not cure all the Bucs woes against the run. Part of the problem they’ve been having lately is due to a lack of discipline, their lineman failing to properly fill or in some cases just stay in the gaps they’ve been assigned on a given play.
“It’s both of those things,’’ Koetter said when asked if the struggles against the run were more a result of a lack of size or lack of discipline. “But whether they get moved out of their gap or (miss the assignment) it’s still a successful run play.’’
The Bucs, who rank 25th overall in the league against the run and have been targeted 135 times between the tackles, have allowed far too many successful run plays this year, so no one should be surprised if Siliga starts to see significant playing time, perhaps as soon as Sunday.