We understand it, and we get it. The frustrations with Jameis Winston and his turnovers cannot be ignored or denied. There are several aspects to this team that are very frustrating. The lack of consistent running game, Jameis Winston, offensive line issues, O.J, and dropped passes. The offense has been bipolar this year.
But one aspect of the team that has done nothing but get better, has been the Tampa Bay secondary. Since the departure of Vernon Hargreaves, the Tampa Bay secondary has seen a drastic improvement. Since the overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the secondary has been a near no flight zone.
The touchdowns given up from the New Orleans Saints were mostly products of groundwork. The short Michael Thomas touchdown (16), a 3 yard touchdown to Jared Cook, and a 6 yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn.
We can’t forget about the 46 yard touchdown pass to Marcus Johnson from Jacoby Brissett. But wide receiver touchdowns against this type of a secondary are becoming less frequent week by week. Although we are now venturing into week 17, which means the end of the season, the secondary has seen drastic improvement since the departure of Vernon Hargreaves. And that starts with Sean Murphy-Bunting.
The 22-year-old Second round pick from Central Michigan has stepped his game up. Since starting hesitant against the Carolina Panthers, he has blossomed into a tackling corner. He had nine tackles against the Atlanta Falcons; he had eight solo tackles against Detroit two weeks ago. For his rookie campaign so far, Murphy-Bunting has 42 total tackles, 36 of them solo, one sack, Three pics and one touchdown. He tasted the end zone against Detroit; his best game of the entire season.
But it takes more than one man on a defense to create change. And that’s when his running mates from Auburn jump in. Carlton Davis is in his second year, and did an excellent job on DeAndre Hopkins. But the enforcer in this leaders of the new school defense is Jamel Dean. Dean currently has 17 pass defenses: that’s tied for fourth in the NFL. Need one be reminded that he is a rookie. His highlight game was against the Seattle Seahawks, in which he had six tackles, five of them solo.
Against the Houston Texans he had an interception that he returned for 31 yards. In a very close match up in which the defense only gave up 16 points. Interchangeable from corner to safety, his progression on this team will play a key role in how this defense will be treated, and how they will respond, next year in the 2020 schedule. Besides the division, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the NFC North, the AFC West, the Los Angeles Rams, and once again, the New York Giants.
Tampa Bay has this Sunday to take its final bow, and close out the season on an eight and eight record. Whichever way you want to see or view it, Tampa Bay’s defense has improved, thanks to the future, known as Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting.
Photo credit: buccaneers.com