As training camp approaches, we will look at each position on the 2022 Buccaneers. We are starting on the defensive side of the ball with the secondary.
As a defense overall, the Bucs gave up 331.5 yards a game which was good for 20th in the league.
The secondary finished 20th in the league in passing yards allowing 238.
You could say the Bucs had a bend but don’t break defense. The team finished fifth in points allowed with 335 and 20.8 pts a game.
Although the team allowed a ton of yards between the 20s, the defense tightened up inside the red zone.
Pro Football Focus has the Bucs secondary ranked as the second-best secondary in the NFL behind the Baltimore Ravens.
This season could be the last time this group is together as Jamel Dean, Mike Edwards, and Sean Murphy-Bunting are all set to hit the free-agent market following the 2022 season.
Buccaneer’s general manager talked about the Buc’s secondary heading into the 2022 season. “Well, we’re healthy. We want to keep it that way. We had a lot of these young guys play very well two years ago when we won the Super Bowl, and I don’t think that talent went away. We’ve added players like Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, that we’re excited about bringing some veteran leadership back there. I think we’re in good shape.”
The much-maligned secondary has improved this off-season with the addition of Logan Ryan from the New York Giants and the signing of Keanu Neal.
Cornerback Carlton Davis and Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will anchor the secondary this season.
Davis, who signed a three-year extension in the off-season, is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league.
In his third season, Winfield allowed just two passes over 20 yards last season.
Mike Edwards is one of the more physical defensive players in the NFL. The problem is Edwards needs to stay healthy and learn to harness some of that physicality.
He has played most positions in the secondary since he arrived in Tampa, but I would like to see him settle in at safety.
It wasn’t just the injuries that hit the secondary hard last season. There were a lot of blown assignments and missed tackles. The Bucs also had a propensity for letting the opponent’s best receiver run all over the field wide open. (see Cooper Kupp in last year’s divisional playoff game.) However, the Buccaneer’s secondary will benefit from the two veterans, Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal.
Ryan and Neal bring experience to this young secondary. The Bucs signed Ryan after safety Jordan Whitehead signed with the New York Jets. Ryan is the most versatile of this group as he can play all positions in the secondary.
Neal will bring his experience and versatility to the backend. You will also see him line up in the nickel sub-packages Bowles likes to deploy. Neal played linebacker in that role in Dallas.
The key player in this Bucs secondary for 2022 is Sean Murphy-Bunting. It’s time for Murphy-Bunting to stay healthy, and let’s see what he can deliver in an entire season.
Murphy-Bunting and Winfield are the best blitzers in the secondary, and head coach Todd Bowles is not afraid to dial up those blitzes.
The Bucs also drafted a cornerback from Sam Houston State, Zyon McCollum. McCollum has good size and excellent skill level. He also has a knack for getting to the ball to create turnovers.
Although Davis and Jamel Dean are entrenched as the starters right now, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see McCollum on the field more as the season progresses.
I don’t see the Bucs keeping both Dee Delaney and Ross Cockrell, barring an injury. My guess is Ross Cockrell makes the team, and Dee Delaney will be gone.
This is a special group and, if healthy, will cause many problems for opposing offenses this season.
LCB Jamel Dean. Sean Murphy-Bunting. Dee Delaney
SS Antoine Winfield Jr. Keanu Neal
FS Logan Ryan. Mike Edwards
RCB Carlton Davis. Zyon McCollum. Ross Cockrell