TAMPA — Former Bucs great Warren Sapp regularly breaks down film on his Instagram feed, and this week's dissection of the Bucs' 42-28 loss to the Panthers apparently didn't sit well with Tampa Bay linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.
Sapp broke down Christian McCaffrey's 35-yard run with 9:01 left in the second quarter, in which McCaffrey turns the corner down the right sideline against an eight-man front for a big gain.
"Holy Toledo, c'mon, this is not a hard play," Sapp says as the play runs, stopping the play as David bears in on pulling Carolina center Mark Kalil in front of McCaffrey. David was pushed inside, allowing McCaffrey, who gets free outside after a subtle cutback, to turn the corner for a huge gain down the sideline.
Carolina scored a touchdown three plays later to take a 28-7 lead.
Sapp makes the point that David should have filled the outside gap, which would have pushed McCaffrey inside, where safety Jordan Whitehead could have filled and made the tackle.
That's not the way David saw it, commenting on the post from his Instagram account, "Dead wrong."
Alexander chimed in as well with a comment that included, "Bro, they don't know what they be talking about (laughing emoji). He just like those (expletive)."
Sapp then replied to David: "Who you typing at?", and to Alexander, "Who?, to which Alexander said, "You."
Sapp responds to Alexander: "So tell US what you was suppose to do if not turn it back to the free hitter sitting in the hole."
And he responds to David: "We waiting? Damn sure (went) under the block and RB still going must be the plan."
Wednesday, Sapp told the Tampa Bay Times that he's not surprised by the reaction he received from the players.
"These kids are playing their own game and have their own network of admirers,'' he said.
"But you tell me what you're doing since you done spilled it to the next guy, and he spilled it to the next guy, and not only does (McCaffrey) get the sideline, why is the safety delayed filling it? Is he not sure you're going to do your job?
"You tell me something. I got my championship and my gold jacket. All that is buried, dead and gone. Trust me, I can pick up some way worse plays than that. I'm cutting you some slack.''
One could easily say Bucs defenders should be less defensive on social media and have more focus making plays on the field. But obviously, no one wins a social media argument in an Instagram post comment section.
In fact, nothing good happens from it. It only ends poorly as trolls join in. But it definitely drew attention to the post, which had more than 28,000 views as of Wednesday morning.
Maybe McCaffrey just made a great move to give him the corner. Maybe he's just better. It was pretty clear the Panthers are better than the Bucs on Sunday.
Asked about Sapp's criticism on Wednesday, Bucs defensive coordinator Mark Duffner said everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
"I respect people's opinions," Duffner said. "But again, we continue to work hard to put people in the right position and players work hard to be in the right position and that's our task and that's our job and that's our challenge and we're going to continue to work hard for it."
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy might have put it best, explaining Monday his recent silence by saying that there's no sense in saying a lot when the team isn't playing well.
"Defense hasn't been playing good," McCoy said. "There's not really a lot of talking that needs to be done. So that's why I haven't been doing interviews, because it's just like nine years in, the defense is playing bad, how much talking do I really need to do? 'Oh we need to fix this. Oh we need to fix that.' It's just you either get it done or just don't say nothing. So that's kind of where I've been."
McCoy said he's been on the receiving end of criticism from Sapp as well.
"We hear it from all ends," McCoy said. "Ninety-nine gave me an earful yesterday. That's what he does. That's my brother, though. That's my older brother. When he gets on me, that's what he does."
Uglier than the Instagram comment exchange was the play itself. McCaffrey turns the corner with four Bucs defenders left in the dust on on the ground and runs down the sideline untouched until he was taken down by defensive end — yes, defensive end — Carl Nassib at the seven. Even if David was to push McCaffrey into a free tackler, tackling was not the Bucs' strong suit on Sunday.
The Bucs have allowed 34.4 points a game this season, which is the most in the NFL. They've also yielded 414.3 yards a game, which ranked 28th of the league's 32 teams.
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.