Big Play, Harsh Critique, Critical Need

January 10th, 2021

Sean Murphy-Bunting had a big interception last night

NBC Sports shined a negative spotlight on Sean Murphy-Bunting last night in the form of something that makes Joe want to punch a wall.

And no, it had nothing to do with Murphy-Bunting’s propensity for getting torched on the field.

NBC buys into the nonsense of grades of every NFL player. They are in so deep with that nonsense that they share the grades of all starters in an effort to “educate” viewers early in the first quarter of games.

Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting ranked 78th among all 124 NFL cornerbacks who qualified for a ranking after the regular season, per NBC. Obviously, that’s a horrible ranking for an early-second-round draft pick. And it looked really bad on the NBC graphic next to Carlton Davis (39th-ranked), and Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield, Jr., who PFF considers slightly above average safeties.

Three plays after the graphic appeared, Murphy-Bunting picked off a Taylor Heinicke pass that was deflected by a blitzing Kevin Minter. It was Murphy-Bunting’s third big play in the past two games; he had a monster finish against Atlanta last Sunday.

The Bucs scored on the ensuing drive to take a 9-0 lead, and Murphy-Bunting’s play got lost in the shuffle of a long game that saw multiple breakdowns in the Tampa Bay secondary.

Joe doesn’t want to forget Murphy-Bunting’s pick because the Bucs need those big plays from an inconsistent defensive backfield that’s proven capable of forcing turnovers. The talent level back there will not scare the Rams or Saints next weekend, but the Bucs corners and safeties have proven they can at least make a play here and there.

Every Super Bowl team of the last 11 years (Joe’s research didn’t go beyond 2009) either had a Pro Bowl defensive back on the roster during that season (17 teams) or had a former Pro Bowler in the starting lineup (5 teams).

That’s no coincidence — and the Bucs don’t have one, or one that was deserving. So Tampa Bay will be fighting history to get to the Super Bowl next month.

Joe believes the Bucs can do it, but they’re going to need at least one big play in each game from the secondary. Yesterday, it was Murphy-Bunting’s turn.

33 Responses to “Big Play, Harsh Critique, Critical Need”

  1. Robert Says:

    JD one game, Winfield one game, Davis one game, SMB one game, DW one game, Suh one game……..say what you will about a soft D and not having a pro bowler……but I’ll take a new man stepping up each week all day and twice on Sundays. They did enough and have. Just keep us in the game enough to give TB they chance to ice it!

  2. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    That was a solid semi-diving catch. A play not talked about much was the strip sack before the first half called down by contact/hurt feelings or whatever. I guess replay in New York didn’t want a route. That would have all but ended the game before halftime with a td or even fg. Oh well…

  3. Weebs10 Says:

    I’m hoping getting Devin White back is the shot in the arm this defense needs. Secondary has to be addressed this offseason. It’s our weakest unit by far. Shoutout to Donovan Smith for playing a really solid game last night. O-line is not our number 1 priority this year.

  4. ArmchairGM Says:

    It’s tough playing DB in the NFL. It takes about 3 seasons to develop. I’m waiting to see SMB next year to judge. His big plays late in the season are reasons to be optimistic.

  5. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Love seeing one of our guys proving the experts WRONG

  6. #1bucsfan Says:

    The people who want to run off smith are crazy let last nights game show them when he does show up he’s just above avg starter but gets the job done. He’s has maybe has 2 or 3 bad games a season not to shabby and he’s always available to play. We deff gotta do something diff with the DBs. I don’t get how every game there are WRs running wide open down the field WTH is going on bowels get your group together and fix this dam sieve of a pass defense. IF we had white playing last night wash. QB wouldn’t have ran all over us like he did. D.White will be huge to get back next week hope he’s not a little rusty after missing a few games. JL PLEASE get some corner back help and a few more edge rushers next year

  7. Capt.Tim Says:

    Its not secondary breakdowns.
    Its the fact that we blitz constantly.
    When you blitz a player, you remove a player from coverage. If you blitz Winfield- then you just took a safety out of his zone- forcing the other guys to cover more area, without safety help.
    Our secondary is young, but talented.
    They look bad- because we constantly leave them hung out to dry.

    Its our defense strategy. Quit bitching about the secondary.
    What we really need, is Devon White’s speed off the edge

  8. DBS Says:

    It’s just an excuse. They have been this way for years. They have been this way all year this year.

  9. Show Me the TDs Says:

    We also had two easy INTs that were dropped. The team was sloppy in some areas last night. Godwin’s five drops. I’m thinking TB is laser focused this week of practice and gets everyone pulling in the same direction. For a lot of our guys, it’s good to get the first playoff jitters out of the way.

  10. OHBucFan Says:

    PFF is Collinsworth’s baby, so we’ll be living with it for a while. The biggest drawback on the individual player rankings is that this IS a team sport. The secondary would be looking much better if Vita was on the line and if Shaq was putting the pressure on. PFF does try and take some of that into consideration but this is a game of inches and nanoseconds. It all melds together. Bet the secondary is much better next year when Vea is back. Same with the rush.

  11. Reddington Neck Shores Says:

    When we weren’t blitzing it was wide open guys because the qb had all afternoon in the pocket. Tell ya what though you watch Jalen Ramsey play against dk metcalf and you see what a difference a bona fide top shelf corner brings to a team. If we don’t win it all this year it will be that missing piece. Think tyreek hill Michael Thomas devante Adams Stefan Diggs. Somebody has to be able to stop those guys we haven’t done so yet. And devante was getting over being hurt for the game for Bucs pack.

  12. Fernando Says:

    Tony Dungy the turncoat bashing and providing one sided commentary always

  13. geno711 Says:

    As a non football expert, the way that I see it is that our guys are about average.

    There is a reason that we were 1st in Run Defense and in the middle of the pack pass defense. Seems fair.

    There is a reason why every freaking quarterback in the NFL gets 25 TD’s or more in a season. It is easy to pass against most every team. My gosh, Jacksonville had 25 pass TD’s this year.

    Our people saying our pass defense is any worse than KC’s this year.

  14. geno711 Says:

    Patrick Peterson had a very off year this year and is a free agent Is he just too old or would be be a good get next year to bring back with Todd Bowles defense?

    I just have not watched enough of him this year to have a strong opinion.

  15. gus georgiou Says:

    Our 3 DB’s are average to horrible. 23 would not be starting on any other defense in the NFL! I don’t care if he has made a couple of plays like the gift interception last night. He cannot cover anyone whether we are in zone coverage or man to man. He looks totally lost out there. Our DB’s were usually 5 yards off of their guys or if they were close they were flagged for holding them! This draft coming up should be nothing but defensive players especially defensive backs and let someone else other than Licht draft since we can see his success with the last 5 defensive backs he has chosen!

  16. rrsrq Says:

    Last night, the pass rush was terrible, I do not blame the DBs when the QB is comfortable in the pocket. How long do you expect even a good DB to cover, very few have Deion Sanders closing speed. There were many times, Tyler had no where to throw the ball because of coverage, but he just avoided the passing glance of a rush and kept going through his progressions. There were a few times you get upset because he corners are 20 yards off, which means their routes are not disrupted and they can run them unencumbered. But, it was the lack of pass rush, even the blitz barely got there (is the redskins line that good, with a mobile QB, you look a lil better)

  17. Cobraboy Says:

    Whitehead dropping an INT right in his breadbasket in the 2nd Qtr. was a big non-play that would have stopped a scoring drive.

  18. gofortheface30 Says:

    Captain Tim – I agree but it’s a double edged sword, our defensive front is not getting any kind of push. Obvious state ment is obvious, but losing Vita Vea was incredibly crippling. Suh/Numez-Roches/Ghoston are getting snuffed out, A LOT. JPP is invisible. A LOT. The Bucs kinda need Shaq to be super man and while he is really good, he is not a “5-star, blue chip, high level talent” kinda guy to take over games. As much as i’m not a fan of our DB’s other than Winfield (and I actually like Davis) I really think our defensive front needs to be reworked. I am really REALLY interested to see how we address defense in Off season. The Bucs offense is going to break records next yr, but the bucs are going to lose Bowles, maybe Suh, and is Shaq worth a mega contract? Do the Bucs bring in a veteran/seasoned DB? Perhaps the Tom Brady effect can bring in some guys at discounted rates for a chance to be relevant and play in some primetime games

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    @rrsrq: give props to the FTFKATR’s Oling. They played exceptionally well. They are stout, with an All-Pro OG.

    The FTFKATR have exceptional Big Uglies on both sides of the ball. Their future is very bright.

  20. jjtixs Says:

    We need a shut dwn corner.who can play bumb and run, from the line of scrimmage.and not play 8 yrds off the receiver! We also definitley need a Linebacker who can cover a TIGHT END!

  21. adam from ny Says:

    also i think tirico said bunting was a terrific player and the bucs are really pleased with his development…or something to that effect…

    not in those same exact words…but you get the point…it was wrong…

    i thought tirico and dungy were a really bad duo to listen to most of the time as well last night…

    they got a lot of stuff wrong…even dungy did, which surprised me

  22. unbelievable Says:

    @capt. Tim –

    I’m sorry but blitzing isn’t an excuse in my mind.

    If you blitz and rush with 5, you still have 6 other defenders to cover 3-5 different players.

    They simply can’t play zone. Watch the views from the all-22 or the QB angle. The entire back 6 or back 7 just stand there flat footed, with massive holes everywhere. It’s beyond frustrating.

  23. Says:

    Winfield is a pro bowl caliber player. We’re fine. Look for carlton davis to step up too

  24. Ed Says:

    When a QB can just lob jump balls in the middle of the field , 15 to .20 yards in the air and there is a linebacker in front and the DB’s on each side and receiver is in the air making an easy catch, then the linebacker’s not getting the depth and the DB’s need to go after the ball in the air. The Bucs have consistently give up the middle of the field all season.

  25. timbucs2 Says:

    Does having the son of a Pro Bowl DB on the roster count? 😀

    It will have to do I guess.

  26. Pewter Power Says:

    Ya killin with the splash play mentality and in the playoffs of all things. You can’t make ONE nice play in the playoffs and get torched all game but remind people of his interception. He did nothing but reach for a ball that was in his reach, if it had not been tipped it was a completion because he was being targeted. Plain and simple smb sucks. Hell was not praise for herb Miller play when he had an interception. Smb is garbage and he’ll get roasted by saints, rams or the bears it won’t matter

  27. GiantBleedingGash Says:

    Pass coverage is terrible. They make “3rd stringers” into world beaters.

  28. Davenport Says:

    Defensive rankings are meaningless. The only thing that matters is 3rd down efficiency and scoring defense. Being the top vs. the run isn’t helping us much.

    Drafting DBs with 1st & 2nd picks is a crapshoot. We’ve done that and its gotten us nowhere.

    Lets pick up a couple vet free agents – we may have to walk away from Suh and David (that hurts), but it will make us a better overall defense.

  29. Wesley Says:

    He stinks bad draft pick.

  30. Bucamania Says:

    Bucs D robbed on that non-fumble call.

  31. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Defensive rankings are NOT meaningless. Points scored is such a BS skewed stat. You could give up points on special teams, what if the offense turns the ball over and puts the defense in a bad spot. Too many fans reference points and it’s flawed logic. “Bend but don’t break” is a nice way of saying your defense sucks, can’t get off the field and can’t give the ball back to the offense and it’s a way to justify the needle Dik nature of your soft defense. There is a reason why yards is still the number one barometer. It’s binary. It’s more infallible than any other stat. REAL good defense get off the field on third down. REAL good defense hit you in the mouth and don’t allow the offense to PEG you.

  32. Mort Says:

    All corners are going to look bad when we don’t put enough pressure on the QB, and can’t contain him when he breaks the pocket.

  33. AMI_Chris Says:

    I watched all three games on Saturday and am now watching the Saints game. In all five so far, you see receivers catching the ball with defenders draped all over them. Except for the Bucs, where Redskins receivers looked like antelope cruising through virgin fields. I don’t know if Bucs’ DBs are incapable of covering or if Bowles schemes it that way. It’s maddening to watch and the reason they get their doors blown off by teams like NO and KC.