When Ronald Jones II dropped a screen pass with 13:48 remaining in the second quarter, he disappeared from the field for the rest of the half.

What many thought may have been a benching for Jones turned out to be a new revelation for Leonard Fournette and his role in the Bucs’ offense.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“We were in a two-minute drive and Leonard [Fournette] is our nickel back now,” Bruce Arians said in a press conference on Monday. “RoJo – that would’ve been a big one and he knows it, too. He doesn’t usually drop a screen pass. But no, there’s nothing to that. Leonard was doing [well] and Ro (Ronald Jones II) is our guy.”

Fournette played for the first time since Week 3 after suffering an ankle injury in Denver. While he technically dressed for Week 5 at Chicago, it was only for an emergency situation. In his return on Sunday against the Raiders, Fournette ran 11 times for 50 yards and made six receptions for 47 yards.

It was the first time all season that the Bucs’ top four backs – Jones, Fournette, LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn – were all dressed for the game, and yet it was only Fournette and Jones that received snaps on offense. Fournette led the way with 40 while Jones had 30.

Based from Arians’ comments and his production in the game, it looks like moving forward that Fournette has replaced LeSean McCoy as the primary back on passing downs. In four games, McCoy has 10 receptions for 61 yards and two drops. In three games Fournette has 11 receptions for 81 yards despite not playing in four games.

 

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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EastEndBoy
9 months ago

“only Fournette and Jones that received snaps on offense”…as it should be.

surferdudes
Reply to  EastEndBoy
9 months ago

EEB, yes. Just Jones, and Fournette. If a third back got some touches, I’d rather it was Vaughn.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  surferdudes
9 months ago

Using Vaughn on easier matchups like the Giants or 4th quarter garbage time is what I’d like to see. Just to get him some more in-game snaps.

DT25
9 months ago

This is easily the most formidable combination this team could use. Fournette provides solid hands from the backfield while still presenting a threat to run the ball, which McCoy didn’t provide. RoJo has below average hands but has proven himself as a dangerous ball carrier and can run both between the tackles and off-tackle, which has been Fournette’s biggest weakness. They compliment each other incredibly well. Good to see Arians and Leftwich make this switch. It’s a legitimate two-headed monster, which is what it probably should have been from the beginning.

Spitfire
Reply to  DT25
9 months ago

Exactly. Jones hands actually got much better for a 2 game stretch there starting with the Bears. If he can clean it up a little Jones and Fournette can combine for a lethal Run and Catch duo where their presence doesn’t completely give away the probable play call. At least right now Fournette can do enough of both to not give away a passing play since he can do both at least average.

bucballer
9 months ago

Both are necessary if the Bucs r going to finish strong!

Captain Sly
9 months ago

Pay attention to subtle comments made by BA. McCoys days may be numbered, look Last year he benched VHlll after a missed assignment. Rojo was also benched last year for missing a block and now dropping balls. This team is #1 partly because BA expects better. Cheers!

DT25
Reply to  Captain Sly
9 months ago

Ironic, because by his own words he Arians specifically said he didn’t bench RoJo for the drop lol. This was just perception based on Fournette finishing the half when we went pass-heavy. 100% agree on your take on Bruce as the coach here…but he was pretty adamant about the drop having nothing to do with Fournette playing the next drive.

Last edited 9 months ago by DT25
fredster
9 months ago

McCoy is either injured or washed up. Either way he is ineffective and should be cut.

scubog
Reply to  fredster
9 months ago

McCoy hasn’t looked like anything special to me either. I’d rather see the youngster get a few more opportunities.

GrayBalls
Reply to  fredster
9 months ago

Cutting McCoy does nothing but open a roster spot. But, you lose his experience and insight on the game, which is something that can aid in the development of the younger backs. As a vested veteran his salary is fully guaranteed.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  fredster
9 months ago

Cutting him just means he adds nothing and they still pay him. Keep him around for his football IQ and nothing else.