The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense had a big turnaround towards the second half of the season, eventually becoming a top ten defense in the NFL by year’s end. A crucial part of that upward trajectory came from the improvement of a group of young corners that consisted of rookies Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean, and second-year player Carlton Davis.

Each corner had moments where their game progressed, as Murphy-Bunting made a clutch game-ending pick-six at Detroit, Dean led the entire rookie class with 17 pass breakups in five starts, and Davis had a memorable performance against then Texans wide receiver D’Andre Hopkins, where he held one of the best receivers in the game to just 23 yards.

“The difference was really just keying in and buying into everything he [Todd Bowles] was saying, that coach was doing,” said Murphy-Bunting about the momentum-shifting turnaround when speaking to the media on Wednesday.

“Not only were we watching film, but it’s one thing to watch it and another thing to understand it. As time went on we started to understand more and more what the concepts that we were trying to do as a defense were, and what the concept was that they were trying to do against us as an offense.

“I know for me specifically what I understood, you need a certain defense and when they’re trying to beat us at it, I can show them different things but I know ultimately what I have to do and what they were gonna try to do, it’s just made a lot of things easier when you understand the concept of it.”

Once training camp begins this offseason, the key for the secondary is going to be building upon that success. Murphy-Bunting wants to go from good to great, so there’s one thing in particular that he would like to see the entire secondary improve on.

“We definitely need more turnovers,” Murphy-Bunting said. “That’s what we need to make our secondary known for is creating turnovers and getting interceptions. We had a lot of plays where we were in a position to make plays and we didn’t or we just broke the pass up. Obviously those things are always good, but at the end of the day we all want to be great. So turning some of those PBUs into interceptions and turn those interceptions into pick-sixes, it makes a big difference in a game and it makes a big difference in a season. So that’s what we’re striving to do, to create more turnovers and get our secondary known for that.”

The Bucs chose not to add another cornerback in free agency or the draft this year, instead sticking with the young trio of Murphy-Bunting, Dean and Davis for the 2020 campaign. And that support for them speaks volumes to Murphy-Bunting’s confidence.

“It skyrockets,” Murphy-Bunting said. “Confidence is a big thing as far as being a DB, being a corner especially. It just skyrockets and it lets us know that they have a lot of trust and belief in us as a young secondary. So the sky’s the limit for us and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to be great, and we’re going to compete with each other and we’re gonna compete with our other teammates and push everyone to be great. Because at the end of the day we’re all chasing one goal and that’s the Super Bowl. Just for them to have that trust and belief in us, we have to give it back and show that they made the right decision in doing so.”

The three cornerbacks have built a good friendship over the year both on and off the field. One new thing that they get to experience together this summer is that Tom Brady will be the quarterback that they face in practice each day, so naturally the group has built a friendly competition for who will be the first to pick off the GOAT.

“We’re always competing, just know that,” Murphy-Bunting said. “It’s definitely going to be a big deal to see who picks him off first because they’re never going to let that go. But we’re going to compete, we’re going to see who can pick off the most balls in training camp in general, no matter what quarterback it’s off of, because we do chart production as far as training camp. So if you’re not producing in practice, it’s going to be hard for you.”

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awwdembucs

I think everybody are expecting good thing’s from our young DB’S.

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danielob

Hope they can continue from where they left off late last season, Davis didn’t have too many int’s at Auburn and that’s continued in the pros, but can defend the pass real well, just can’t catch to well, ha ha. Since most of the three will be on the field 60-70% of the time I am concerned about our depth, especially if any of them miss time. Mizzi Wilkins, show us something in training camp>

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FireLichtMovement

So true on Davis lol. I’m less concerned with depth at this point as Winfield can cover the slot also. We have needed a Swiss Army Knife DB since the Vita Vea draft. As you can probably tell, I wanted the Bucs to draft Derwin James lol. Hopefully Winfield can live up to his potential

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Dave

Well year 1 you would have been right on James. But based off last year, Vea was the better player. So I’ll stick with the Vea pick. I’d rather Vea and Winfield vs James and question mark. Vea can play man

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FireLichtMovement

I’m not complaining on the pick now, as we hopefully have a good safety, and Vea is a stud. I hope he will be in a Buccaneer uniform his entire career.

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FireLichtMovement

Speaking of which, I was watching Vea highlights last week. He is absolutely immovable in the run game. Rock in the middle. The second thing that jumped out to me, was he only had one move coming out of college, which was a hump move. He has added moves to his pass rushing repertoire, and become a force on the interior. Glad I was wrong, but great pick. There were a binch of reasons i liked Josh Allen over Devin White. The biggest reason about that, was in order to justify taking White, White needed to become an All Pro… Read more »

FireLichtMovement

Also, I never said Vea wouldn’t do well, I just thought for what we needed, Derwin was the better fit.

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Dman

Davis needs to hit the Jugs machine! He was the shutdown CB at Auburn and a solid tackler. Increasing his picks, or even getting a handful will elevate his performance.

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FireLichtMovement

The cornerbacks work in tandem with the safeties, forming a good unit when communication and talent is good. The reason Richard Sherman was so good for years, was he could cover knowing he had Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor over the top. Chancellor was slower and more of a box safety, but he had underrated coverage skills. The addition of Antoine Winfield Jr. IMO will be invaluable for the CBs. A vocal leader and a high IQ football player, I believe this kid starts day 1 and has an extremely positive impact. Dean, Davis and Bunting will have a hell… Read more »

Dave

Absolutely! When you look over your shoulder and know that your safeties are garbage and will get beat, it puts so much more pressure on you, and you feel you have to cover more of the field than you’re supposed to. Everyone thinks good safety play is a luxury and not a need. It’s a need. You need a safety who’s a willing and solid tackler, with at least average hands, and a high football IQ. They make all the difference in the world

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FireLichtMovement

Legion of Boom in Seattle, No Fly Zone in Denver have been recent staples on Superbowl winning rosters. Hell, it’s a big reason why the Ravens had such a good defense in the 2000s. Lines are the most important imo, but when great CBs are paired with great safeties, look out! Hopefully we see some important growth this year .

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Extra touches for Brady. Win turnover battle.

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plopes808

Looking at the end of last season, the choice to not add another DB other than Winfield was a good decision. These corners are very underrated and will only get better with more experience. Everything I’ve heard about Winfield leads me to believe he could be the biggest difference maker from this year’s draft.

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owlykat

Love the attitude and getting more interceptions will make a great difference in winning games this year!

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seat26

Our Secondary looks a lot stronger. I would feel better if we knew something about Evans. All of our guys are either 3rd or 2nd-year players and one rook. Evans gives us some leadership in the room.

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Dave

Winfield won’t play like a rookie. Promise you that!

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BUC-ASS-BOB
    Not bringing the defense back onto the field with 30 INTs and 5 lost fumbles will allow these dBs to catch a breath, they should preform much better than last year!
    Try running several 40 yard dash backwards with out a rest!
    This d overall will vastly improve.
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fredster

This secondary has been garbage for years. Last season it was biggest reason for 7-9 record. They said it was fixed. It was not and they weren’t ready. They were torched like I’ve never seen last season first half of year. Giants game was a disgrace. Gave up 21 point halftime lead at home against garbage rookie Daniel Jones. I hope they can play at least average this year out of gate or won’t matter what improvement you think the offense will have.

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bucoffmatey

Every year I get stoked by all the hype surrounding the teams’ potential based on how they finished, or how they improved in the second half last year, and every year I’m disappointed by the results. Look, as a fan I will root for my team no matter what their record or who they draft or who they pick up in FA. I just wish this team would develop some consistency, on the roster and on the coaching staff. We already know that Bruce isn’t a 10 year hire and is gone after this year or next. So hopefully one… Read more »