One Awful Game Should Not Kill Sean Murphy-Bunting

July 26th, 2022

Key to secondary?

Yeah, Joe thinks we can all agree that the Bucs’ secondary was dreadful in the playoff loss to the Rams.

Most remember how Cooper Kupp got loose late. Joe cannot kill the Bucs for that really bad play. Why? Kupp does that all the time to good teams.

Had the Bucs’ pass defense just played OK in the first half, the game would not have come down to the NFL’s best receiver making a clutch play.

In breaking down the Bucs for the Football Outsiders 2022 Almanac, Bryon Knowles documents how the injury to SMB in Week 1 may have screwed up the defense worse than when Carlton Davis got hurt.

Bowles’ ideal defense is very multiple in the secondary, mixing up single-high and two-high coverage to confuse offenses, and then bringing blitzes and pressure to pop them in the mouth. But when Murphy-Bunting went down in Week 1, the Buccaneers got a lot more predictable in the defensive backfield. They started dropping both Antoine Winfield and Jordan Whitehead significantly more often; they started having corners play by side rather than matching up with individual receivers; they stopped blitzing as much. This was to help their depleted secondary, but the end result is that they weren’t running the defense they were designed to run for a good half of the year. The injury to Carlton Davis obviously didn’t help matters, but it seems like the slot defense was Bowles’ key; the Bucs’ coverage schemes reverted to normal when Murphy-Bunting returned in Week 11, two weeks before Davis came back.

Joe remembers Bucs cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross saying he thought SMB was so focused on recovering from his arm injury that he may not have been fully locked in, mentally or physically, on football. And that popped up at the wrong times late in the season.

Now with a full offseason to focus on football and not his arm, Joe hopes SMB shows why he was such a stud in the 2020 playoffs. You may remember he had three picks in the 2020 postseason. That’s balling.

And Joe doesn’t think it is an overstatement to suggest that without SMB, the Bucs don’t beat the Packers in the 2020 NFC Championship game. After all, it was SMB who picked off Aaron Rodgers at midfield late in the first half to set up Scotty Miller’s famous bomb from Tom Brady before halftime.

The Bucs won by five. Miller’s play doesn’t happen without SMB’s pick.

24 Responses to “One Awful Game Should Not Kill Sean Murphy-Bunting”

  1. UKBuccaneer Says:

    SMB has had more than one awful game. His career is a rollercoaster of good and bad.

  2. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Agreed, UK. Time for SMB to prove it or step aside.

  3. dmatt Says:

    Com on man r u serious, one awful game? Why do folks keep trying to justify a player’s poor performance was a result of a past injury. They kept bailing OJ Howard out with the same excuse. He had one good year n that’s it. He was a dud n the same can be said about SMB. His performance over the past several games has also been awful. SMB performance in the 2020 playoff was a fluke. This guy can’t tackle n if he’s worried bout his arm then he shouldn’t be on the field. High schoolers n college players return from serious injuries n play their best ball not worried bout knee arm or back. Let’s see what Zyon Mccullom can do.

  4. Dean Giusti Says:

    This secondary has alot to prove to me at least. Last year was an absolute disaster. How we won 13 games w this group was a miracle in itself.

  5. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Go back and review the 2nd to last play of the Rams playoff loss and you will see how that one play could have radically changed the perception of SMB’s season and the Bucs season. The casual observer might remember a 18-20 yard out with ease to Kupp(Who Else Right?) , but if you go back and carefully review one sees that the Bucs had called the perfect coverage for that play withh SMB on the under cover and Edwards on the over cover. On the play SMB is wearing Kupp like a sweater and when Kupp breaks his route outside , SMB moves to undercut the route and close(which would have resulted in a pick ,Bucs Ball Bucs Win , but unfortunately SMB heel clipped Kupps foot and went down and the rest was history. That one play I believe would have changed a lot for SMB’s season and the Bucs season had it worked for the INT.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We drafted SMB’s replacement this year……Zion….

  7. Listnfrmafar Says:

    One???? Funniest post Joe ever sent out. Hahahaha.

  8. Listnfrmafar Says:

    He can’t tackle for crap and often gets carried for 1st downs after making the hit short, over runs when blitzing. NOT good.

  9. geno711 Says:

    The problem with teams for Kupp is that he runs 90 percent of his routes in traditional slot ways (short and intermediate routes) but then exploded as well against teams by running more downfield routes and catching more deep passes than ever before last year.

    If he continues his excellence, he will pass Larry Fitzgerald as the greatest slot receiver ever (when Fitzgerald started running slot for BA).

    Bengals wished the covered Cooper Kupp last year too. Pretty sure that was the best season ever for a slot receiver.

  10. geno711 Says:

    I agree that SMB is a big part of our success on defense.

  11. Hodad Says:

    SMB’s whole career has been average at best. Logan Ryan will be our starting slot corner game one.

  12. Dooley Says:

    SMB isn’t as bad as some here make him out to be, even bouncing back from that nasty elbow injury opposing last season QBs went 28-47 for 359 yards & 2 scores in 7 contests throwing at SMB. Not world beating good, but certainly not Lequan Lewis or Vernon Hargraves levels of bad either. Anybody who can remember or secondary back from Schiano to 2018, it can get a lot uglier than what we’ve seen from the trio of Dean, Davis, & SMB.

  13. Billyboy2211 Says:

    A 6’3 slot corner sure

  14. mark2001 Says:

    UK… nailed it.

  15. Craig Says:

    He is a year older, which is what our defensive backfield needed the most.

    He has also had time for the memory of the injury to fade. He was tackling pretty well before his arm broke, maybe he will be back fully.

    Mainly we need a more consistent rush by the first four. No backfield can survive more than a minute or two before something breaks down.

  16. Jmarkbuc Says:

    One ?

  17. JVillare Says:

    He is terrible…look at the film…burnt toast. All QB’s Pick on him, watch, he is always “around” on big plays….around

  18. Red-sparrow Says:

    Joe you sure know how to pile up the excuses for some of these players…

  19. Red-sparrow Says:

    And by some of these players, I mean that secondary…

  20. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    SMB was the difference in the Packers playoff game the year Bucs won the Superbowl-easy to forget that.

  21. geno711 Says:

    SMB has had more good playoff games than bad ones.

  22. Wild Bill Says:

    Can’t blame the players for that bomb to Kupp on the players. Coaches should have played deep prevent. Bucs probably also should have called a time out. They sure didn’t get the defense set and Kupp ran free.

  23. chark Says:

    And one great game should not save SMB…you could argue both ways..He got injured week 1 dallas because he made a high school level if not worse mistake . His claim to fame right now is that he jumped some short passes in the playoffs. There are other parts to his game that are weak and show a player that is not very smart and is not learning fundamentals

  24. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Just need consistency from SMB. Was really pushing for the front office to grab another DB high in the draft to bring competition to our CB position. These guys have bin gifted jobs n I’ve bin beating this drum for awhile. These guys need to be pushed n the only way for some people to take it to the next level is if they got someone pushing for their job