1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

For the young Bucs secondary, the learning curve looked steep Sunday

Bruce Arians said he’s still trying to figure out why weekday preparation isn’t translating to Sundays following a 34-17 loss to New Olre
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (34) celebrate a tackle during the second quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (34) celebrate a tackle during the second quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 19

TAMPA — The Bucs’ 34-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday -- the team’s fifth loss in the past six games — had coach Bruce Arians again wondering why the coaching his players are receiving during practice isn’t carrying over into games.

“It’s frustrating as a coach because I see us practicing and preparing extremely hard,” Arians said Monday. “The guys are staying extra hours to prepare but then it’s not showing up on Sundays, and as a coach, it’s my job to figure out why. That’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

The Bucs fell behind 20-0 midway through the second quarter on Sunday— the script of playing from behind is a familiar one — and came within 10 points twice in the second half.

Arians points to two key defensive lapses that played a part in the early deficit. Both miscues were by rookie defensive backs.

The Bucs moved safety Mike Edwards into the nickel back role, a change made in part because they wanted to utilize Edwards’ ability as a blitzer. But Edwards was exposed on the Saints’ first drive of the game, when tight end Jared Cook, lined up in the slot and beat Edwards on a route over the middle for a 30-yard gain, setting up a 44-yard field goal for the game’s first points.

“Sometimes, it’s just basic fundamentals,” Arians said. “You’re in two-man (coverage), you don’t get beat inside.”

After tight end O.J. Howard bobbled a pass behind his back and into the arms of Saints linebacker Demario Davis for an interception, the Saints scored again on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Michael Thomas.

Thomas was wide open on the play because cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, lining up on Thomas on the inside, gave the receiver too much cushion, allowing him to get picked by receiver Tre’Quan Smith.

“Get up there (closer to the line of scrimmage) where you can’t get picked,” Arians said. “Don’t back up.”

Moving Edwards out of the positions he’s been all season long was a peculiar one, especially when Murphy-Bunting began to find his footing at the nickel back position. That rookie corner Jamel Dean, who made a game-changing interception and graded as the team’s top defensive player last week rebounding from a rough outing in Seattle two weeks ago, didn’t play a single defensive snap was even more strange.

“Just a lot of different moving parts here and there, so it’s just something that we’ve got to hone in on,” inside linebacker Lavonte David said Sunday. “I can’t really pinpoint what the issue is, but it’s frustrating at the end of the day. When we’re out there, we’ve got to be able to find a way to play together.”

Murphy-Bunting’s mistake was particularly frustrating for Arians because they knew that might be coming and worked on it in practice leading up to the game.

“Todd kept them after practice on Friday to walk them through that exact play,” Arians said. “And when they don’t do it. It’s called youth. I’m glad I don’t have any hair (to pull out).”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieIntheYard.


  1. Peyton Manning threw 26 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions in 2001, his age-25 season. Jameis Winston has thrown 26 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions through 13 games this season, which is his age-25 season. What does it mean? Probably nothing. [KEVIN RIVOLI  |  Associated Press]
    Reality check: Manning’s 2001 was superior to Winston’s 2019, mainly because it’s easier to play quarterback in today’s NFL.
  2. Last season, Jameis Winston threw the ball away five times. This season, he has thrown it away 23 times. “One of the hardest things to do is to throw the ball away — trust me,” Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    The quarterback’s league-leading interception rate is overshadowing a potential step forward in his development.
  3. Winston is putting up statistics nearly identical to what Manning posted the season he turned 25. But a comparison requires more than numbers.
  4. Rookie linebacker Devin White is starting to have the kind of impact in Tampa Bay as he had at LSU. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Rick Stroud | Licht has virtually nothing left from his 2016 draft. But oh, those last two!
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston smiles while on stage before meeting with the media during the Famous Jameis Jamboree at Raymond James stadium on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Tampa. The event, which recommended a new toy or non-perishable food item as the cost of admission, included games, beverages and a visit from Santa Claus. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Winston tested his injured right thumb by throwing a football for the first time this week on Friday.
  6. Bucs career receptions leader Mike Evans (left) won't be available to help quarterback Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay for Sunday's 1 p.m. game at Detroit. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Bucs are without Mike Evans for the first time since 2017, but Ndamukong Suh is back in Motown.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive linebacker Ndamukong Suh (93) on the bench during the second quarter of the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on August 16, 2019 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times [MONICA HERNDON   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    He’s not the same player who dominated in Detroit, but Suh did plenty of damage the last time he faced the Lions.
  8. With Oklahoma State in 2018, Taylor Cornelius threw for 3,978 passing yards (fifth most in program history) and 32 touchdowns (fourth most). The Tampa Bay Vipers drafted him in October. [SUE OGROCKI  |  Associated Press]
    The Tampa Bay Vipers signal-caller talks camp competition, Marc Trestman’s coaching style and Mike Gundy’s hair.
  9. Quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and the Bucs face the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. Sunday in Detroit. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Here are our picks for this week’s NFL games.
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) makes a pass to a receiver during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The quarterback has been able to play with limited practice in the past, doing it before during the 2017 season.