With the exception of Ryan Succop, Bucks coach Todd Bowles yesterday didn’t want to name anyone who won a starting contract for the 2022 season.
Of course, most of us can name starters, so there were few, if any, grab slots. One position was, and this is a permanent starting on the corner. The Bucs consider the corner slot to be the starting slot because whoever it is will show up on the field so often. But it’s not a complete starter.
So, will Jamel Dean or Sean Murphy-Bunting play against Carlton Davis? Bowles said he knew, but the winner didn’t, so Bowles kept that information to himself.
“Obviously I’m referring to a starter at this location, but we’ll discuss that with the coaches later,” Bowles said. Dean and SMB “were very good training camps when it came down to it, but we have one guy who played really well, so we’ll discuss it among ourselves and we’ll go out with a starting player.”
Well, if we use the 2020 season as a benchmark when injuries didn’t play a big role, SMB could be the leader here. In 2020, SMB had 882 protection shots compared to Dean’s 708.
Last year, injuries completely knocked down the score. SMB broke his elbow in the season opener against the Cowboys and lost nine starts. When he returned, SMB selection was a problem, and this was most evident at the worst possible time, a playoff loss to the Rams.
Now if you keep trying to guess the leader in the constant turn opposite Davis, Brian Knowles of Football outsiders it looks like Dean is going to be that guy, judging by his performance last season.
Jamel Dean was forced into a more prominent role due to injuries in supporting roles and handled himself well. Within five weeks when [Carlton] Davis and Shaun Murphy-Bunting were both out of the game, Dean only allowed 46.1% completions and 5.5 yards per goal despite often having to play with the best receivers on the field.
Knowles also wrote that Dean can’t stay healthy and SMB can’t stay consistent. Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other
Of course, SMB was one of the Bucks’ heroes in the 2020 playoffs. He had three picks in three NFC playoff games, and his selection against choke master Aaron Rodgers late in the first half at halfback in the NFC Championship game directly provided Scotty Miller’s brilliant catch with Tom Brady’s bombshell that turned out to be the winning score.
However, as Jerry Glanville once said, the NFL stands for “not for long,” and as great as that postseason was for SMB, that was almost two years ago.