Jamel Dean was one of the best corners on the Buccaneers for most of the season. Not using him in the loss against the Cowboys was a massive mistake.
Of all the bad decisions by the Buccaneers in their playoff loss against the Cowboys, choosing to leave Jamel Dean on the bench might have been the worst.
Not only was Dak Prescott able to throw with ease to open receivers for most of the night, but there is also a chance that a move like this will impact free agent negotiations with Dean during the upcoming offseason.
Dean came to the Buccaneers in the same class as fellow soon-to-be-free-agent Sean Murphy-Bunting. SMB ended up getting the start over Dean, who was coming off a sickness for most of the week, and this could prove problematic for the Bucs down the road.
With both players set to become free agents, it stands to reason that the cash-strapped Bucs will have to go with the better player. That player is obviously Dean.
From a physical standpoint to actual production on the field, Dean is the better player and the one the Bucs need to prioritize.
Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers almost assuredly created a rift by making a move like this (especially when Dean was still seen as healthy enough to play special teams reps for most of the game), and they didn’t make it much better with Bowles’ comments on Dean later.
These comments come as a strange juxtaposition to what actually happened in the game. Sure, Dean was sick that week, but being healthy enough to play special teams should show everyone all they need to know. Unless Bowles is saying special teams reps don’t matter as much, but everyone knows that is not the case.
If Bowles truly saw Dean as the most improved player (bear in mind that dean started in 15/15 games in 2022 and 11/15 in 2021), playing him for no defensive reps when he was healthy enough to be on the field is silly.
Comments like this won’t save the Buccaneers with their most important free agent if Dean also thought he was healthy enough to play on defense.
This is a bad move by the Bucs, especially when they chose to play Ryan Jensen with what amounted to basically no knee because it was the most important game of the season. The best players should be on the field during the playoffs.
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