Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean is having the best year of his four-year career.
Dean’s been the Buccaneers’ best cornerback through the first nine games of the season and if he continues his play, there’s a good chance he will make the first Pro Bowl of his career.
But Dean’s career certainly didn’t start like he wanted. It took him seven games before the Buccaneers placed him in a major role on defense.
And as it just so turned out, it was against the Seattle Seahawks – the Buccaneers’ upcoming Week 10 foe.
Dean did not have a good game that day. Per Pro Football Focus, Dean gave up nine receptions for 153-yards and three touchdowns on 14 targets in the Buccaneers’ 40-34 loss. And none were bigger than the 29-yard reception from Russell Wilson to D.K. Metcalf on 3rd and 6 that set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister just two plays later.
Wilson, who is now with the Denver Broncos, went after the then-rookie and the results were far from optimal in Dean’s eyes.
Dean remembers that day all too well. And he’s making it his mission to set things right when these two teams face off in Munich on Sunday.
“I treat it like a milestone for me to like, redeem myself,” Dean told reporters Wednesday. “Because I know, for the first game, it was unexpected – that was like my ‘Welcome to the NFL’ game, so now we’ll see how I hold up with the experience I have. It’s going to be a good game. I’m up for the challenge.”
“I’m always going to remember that [game],” he later added. “It’s like being raised as the worst corner in the league to the very next week, actually getting an opportunity to play again. Because normally after having a game like that, you don’t get to see a snap on defense anymore.
“I was fortunate enough to take advantage of the opportunity and go from the worst to having to be the best corner after next week.”
The Buccaneers defense is going to need every bit of a strong performance from Dean if they want to win this game. The Seahawks currently look like one of the NFL’s best teams as they sit at 6-3 and atop the NFC West.
The Seahawks offense, surprisingly, is as potent as ever with journeyman quarterback Geno Smith leading the way. The unit averages 26.8 points per game, which is fourth-best through the first nine weeks. It’s as well-rounded as any offense in the NFL, evidenced by the fact they are seventh in overall offensive DVOA, which is comprised of a fifth-place ranking in passing DVOA and a 14th-place ranking in rushing DVOA, per Football Outsiders.
And of course, the offense still boasts two of the NFL’s premier receivers in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Which, the former of the two made Dean’s day a special kind of hell in 2019.
Fortunately for Todd Bowles’ group, Dean is ready for the challenge.
“I’m still excited to go against those guys because, you know, they’ve been getting better every year,” said Dean. “So, I just want to see where I stand.”
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports