Todd Bowles Details Why Sean Murphy-Bunting Didn’t Play Defense Against Dallas

September 14th, 2022

So why exactly did Sean Murphy-Bunting live on the bench Sunday night?

He’s a fan favorite, a Super Bowl-season hero, a 2019 second-round pick, and a healthy and capable player.

Todd Bowles dove in deep with an answer on the Buccaneers Radio Network yesterday. Simply stated: it’s because Murphy-Bunting isn’t versatile enough.

“I like the three-corner look with a corner that can play some safety. We have big plans for Sean to be back there and do some things. In this game it required three safeties, with Winfield being one, Logan [Ryan] being the other and Mike [Edwards] being the other one. But all three are interchangeable,” Bowles explained. “They all can play nickel. They all can play strong [safety]. They all can play free [safety]. So that gives us different latitude to do a lot of disguising, a lot of different pressures, without changing the people. Because they all know all three spots. And we haven’t gotten into that yet. It gives you more leverage as far as doing things. And I think that’s important.”

Joe will say that speaks to how much trust Bowles has in Ryan. The dude knows three positions in a complex defense before ever playing in a real game.

Also, as many fans know, Murphy-Bunting lost his starting job to fellow 2019 draft pick Jamel Dean. Murphy-Bunting has plenty of experience at nickel, but it’s clear that if the Bucs stay healthy, it’ll be hard for him to get on the field.

Joe’s happy for Bowles. He must feel like a mad scientist with three safeties who are interchangeable at three positions. On Sunday, it was Edwards’ blitz up the gut that freed up Devin White for his first sack.

37 Responses to “Todd Bowles Details Why Sean Murphy-Bunting Didn’t Play Defense Against Dallas”

  1. CleanHouse Says:

    Dude had three picks in the playoffs, he gets my vote, glad to have him and believe in him when he ends up playing

    Also Scotty Miller gets my vote shouldn’t be inactive in my opinion

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    Todd Bowles truly is ‘a mad scientist’ Joe. Gotta love it.

    Versatility is the key to being his kind of player. SMB apparently isn’t there yet, but he’ll get there. Logan Ryan was that missing piece that Bowles needed, and he’ll be on the field a bunch, whether it be as a Nickel or Safety. Ryan’s what’s keeping SMB on the bench, not Dean.

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Bucs were training SMB for the role that Ryan has now assumed (Nickel AND Safety). SMB & Ryan are virtually the same size (Ryan 5’11” & 195 … SMB 6’0″ & 195) but SMB’s quite a bit faster. Plus Ryan will turn 32 this coming Feb, and SMB only just turned 25. Both are FAs at the end of the season, and both are working for peanuts right now. I’ll be surprised if we can afford to keep both next year.

  3. Fishhawkbuc Says:

    I suspect a business decision. Play him too much and his second contract becomes quite large$

  4. Mikejp Says:

    It is a long season, so he will play very soon in a favor matchup or the offense is clicking.

  5. Esteban85 Says:

    Defense looked quintessential Bowlesesque, very intelligent and very quick. Lots of batted balls that could’ve led to turnovers. I can’t wait to see what this D will become in the challenges that lie ahead. This squad could very well be the best we’ve seen in the Bay Area.

  6. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    Burnt toast is the reason he sat out. If he would’ve played Dallas makes a game of it

  7. Beeej Says:

    Scooter will be active this week–He’ll trade places with Godwin for a few

  8. WillieG Says:

    3 safeties/corners? I’m thinking JW is going to be a bit confused at times next Sunday.

  9. PSL Bob Says:

    I understand Bowles thinking here, but you’d hope he’d find a way to get SMB into the game for a few plays just to keep his mind crisp.

  10. Hodad Says:

    Darden should be inactive instead of Miller, and I’ll go further, Thompkins should get a look over Darden too. Both can field punts, Darden doesn’t scare anyone as a punt returner. I rewatched the game yesterday, Darden caught punts, one he let bounce cost us 10 yards, but he runs out of bounds soon as he can. One punt he fielded he had a nice lane to run up the middle, but nope, he hit the sideline. The kid has no guts. Don’t know what the Bucs see in him. Let’s give Miller, or Thompkins a chance at it.

  11. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Hodad@ I’m with you, some on this site see something you and many others do not including me. He is obviously scared. I’m not sure if it’s about getting hit or screwing up, either way get him out of there.

  12. ThatAintRight! Says:

    I definitely agree with you guys.
    1. Scotty shouldn’t be inactive.
    2. Darden can be let go. Not helping us ever as a return man.
    Move white RB to KR. Scotty to PR. Problem on ST is suddenly solved also now. Would be interested in moving Grayson back up also and potentially demoting perriman if he can’t get it together soon. There is better chemistry between TB12 and Grayson. That’s how I am seeing it.

  13. ThatAintRight! Says:

    Would not be against adding a veteran FA LT. Someone to ply behind Smith or Wirfs. Get rid of Josh Wells. Please do not keep using him as our backup. Makes me sick watching Brady have to play behind this guy.

  14. Listnfrmafar Says:

    What about Neal?

  15. stpetebucsfan Says:


    What planet did you come from. Your sports lack of knowledge is only topped by your moronic political comments.

    Who is your favorite team. Just curious where this trolling is coming from?

    I can see where you’re coming from however…focusing on LAST year and the injury problems. When you’re a troll andthe EMPHASIS is ALWAYS on the negative…you obviously play for the “Chicken Little” team.

    That was a well coached an opening game as I’ve seen. Few penalties, turnovers, a disciplined physical team. In terms of coaching Bowles is off to an A+ start!!!

    Next week is our SB. We ALL loathe the Saints! Yes because they were so dirty on Slimy but talented Payton that they were busted officially and of course we’ve seen it ourselves during the Payton years. But also because they have embarrassed all of us…fans and players…the Saints are the ONE thing that Brady has failed at since joining the Bucs. ME13 a GREAT WR has been shut down! Godwin was of course taken out.

    JW is lucky that Payton is not our coach. JW was clearly favoring his rehabbed knee against Atlanta as he jogged off the field in the 4th. Certainly didn’t hurt his production but he is one low hit away from sitting for a long time. Think Payton would have made sure HIS D knew that?

  16. D-Rome Says:

    Reading and talking about backfield depth seems as unreal to me as Tom Brady playing on the Bucs. This secondary is the real No Fly Zone.

  17. buccs99 Says:

    They prepared to stop the run and short route and showed no respect to the downfield outside routes. playing the 3 safety bear style defense was the perfect scheme for dallas. I like SMB and i liked the defense and the utilization of winfield, who is a pro bowl/all pro caliber player. i trust bowles. i like where this could lead this year defensively.

  18. Mike Says:

    SMB will have plenty of opportunities to play. Sitting on the bench for a game is excellent motivation.

  19. Infomeplease Says:

    Alton, the results speak for him. Against Dallas: NO TDs!!! NONE!!!

  20. Daryl Green Says:

    This is some good conversation going on here.
    I agree about Scotty, Thompkin, Neal.
    I worry about Neal sitting to long, good problem to have.

    I need to hear about Julio maintenance program every week🤙🏾👊🏾

  21. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Scotty may be activated……or it may be Rudolph…..we may need the extra TE vs Saints……if D Smith can’t go an extra olinemen may be activated… it’s not a guarantee for Scotty…..

    I’m not as down on Darden as others…….Anger has great hang time and Darden did get positive yardage on his punt returns……

  22. tampabayallday Says:

    Then trade him while he still has some value.

  23. LongSeason Says:

    Edwards played a great game. His blitz and then his breakup of the deep pass were outstanding. I can wee why Jordan Whitehead was not resigned. I’ve always been high on Edwards.
    We all know Winfield is a great player. Still young so what is his untapped potential?
    Logan Ryan is an experienced vet and very smart. All of our safeties are really smart.
    SMB looks like a pure corner to Bowles. Would you say that is accurate?
    What do you think about making a defense work by shutting down the middle of the field?

  24. ScottyMack Says:

    You’ll see SMB plenty this week. Dallas doesn’t have squat for receivers, so having three corners on the field vs. three safeties was the smart game plan. It’s a lot different story with the much more talented group of receivers the Saints have. Three safeties aren’t going to cut it.

  25. orlbucfan Says:

    I sure liked the DBs rushing the QB again. Reminded me of a certain legendary Defense at the turn of this century. If Ryan was brought in cos of his experience, so be it. SMB will get playing time. Bowles will perfect this D if Buc Luck doesn’t bite (injuries). THAT is scary good. Also, what’s with all the Darden noize? He sure didn’t turn anything over as in fumble. PR has got to be one of the roughest positions to play. I’d like to see a few of the dissers on here do it.

  26. unbelievable Says:

    It’s not a business decision lol.

    No coach is going to sit a more talented player on the bench because he’s worried about a contract for next year. That’s ridiculous.

    It’s quite simple- Dean is a better outside corner. And while SMB is great at nickel, we have 3 safeties who can also play that position, providing more flexibility and creativity as Bowles said.

    Simple as that.

  27. Coquiro Says:

    Don’t mess w the backfield…SMB is not going to help at all. What is the coach’s fascination w him and Darden.? Give the other more talented players the opportunity. They both had theirs and it is not good.

  28. Thisisouryear!!! Says:

    That’s the best our secondary has looked since the days of Rhonde. They weren’t giving up space at the line. I loved it. Whatever we did, let’s keep it up. SMB may have the speed, but he doesn’t have Ryan’s understanding of the game. I think that’s what really is holding him back and he may not ever have it.

    I personally thought Darden did a good job with punt returns. He’s had a really good camp. I hated him last season too, but I think we should give the kid a chance. We let go of some pretty good receiver to keep him, there has to be something there.

  29. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    I mean the pass D was pretty damn good this game. If it ain’t broke….

  30. SlyPirate Says:


    3x Safeties that are interchangeable and can play multiple positions!!!!

    That is a NIGHTMARE for the opposing QB.

    Remember TB12’s quote, “I know where I’m going before the ball is snapped.” That’s because he diagnoses the players and formation. If you have 3 guys who can do multiple things, you don’t know what they are going to do.

    Good luck Jameis.

  31. BillyBucco Says:

    Believe it or not, the idea that Jameis threw for like 160 yds in the 4th quarter to win, excites me.

    Think about it, it was the Jameis who believed too much in his abilities who made mistakes. Everyone knows what he is capable of.

    God I hope we pick him off 4 times.
    We should have had that many against Dallas of they could catch the ball.
    No seriously, they were close but a lot were also just great plays. One almost pick was Edwards guessing right first, and then second guessing for a spkit second. When they start believing more their first read is correct, those chance will lead to pick 6s.

    Then our team will seriously be UNSTOPPABLE.

  32. Bucsfanman Says:

    His number WILL get called at some point. Coach made a coaching decision based on strength vs weakness, like a competent coach should.

    This is as good of a “problem” as you can have, IMO!

  33. BillyBucco Says:

    I forgot to mention that while I was at the game, the fans booing the team was unreal and spectacular.

    They were pissed.
    Then when Dak got hurt and the crowd didn’t know with about 5 minutes to go when Rush came in, the fans were screaming what a bunch of quitters and we are giving up?


  34. Bucanero Says:

    I’m going to say something stupid: TB is pissed off for that blunder blitz and that plays a role on his evaluation of SMB. Obviously not rational but who knows what moves the threads behind the veil?

  35. Lennon Duncan Says:

    Man they won’t survive on three safeties. That’s just not normal. SMB is a premier corner. If he’s not versatile enough trade him. Let’s not forget three picks three weeks in a row, but hey who am I. I’m really starting to think that Tom Brady is the coach cause what he says goes. I hope they trade SMB and he gets to see you in the playoffs.

  36. Rod Munch Says:

    What the Bucs was doing was working, so you just keep doing it until it doesn’t work. SMB will get playing time as they face better teams with more than one NFL WR.

  37. Alvafan Says:

    A lot of posters have given up on SMB after last year. He got injured in the first quarter of the first game. The elbow dislocation occurred as he was grabbing the receiver in the end zone. AW came flying through to break up the pass but instead blew through SMB arm. It was a gruesome sight on the replay and the Bucs were their usually tight lipped with the details although I believe the word severe was used when describing the hyper extension. No surgery was needed and for some that meant it wasn’t too bad. In reality it was a testimony to his toughness that he came back to help shore up a depleted secondary. One thing the Bucs can be sure of is when he is called upon to contribute he will be prepared mentally to do so. Unlike Jamal Dean was a year ago.