The running back-by-committee approach is alive and, well, struggling in Tampa Bay two games into the season. After Ronald Jones played just six snaps in Week 1, Leonard Fournette saw the former second round pick cut into his workload with 26 reps in Week 2. But Fournette still led the way with 31 snaps, and it doesn’t sound like Jones is passing him anytime soon.

On Sunday, Jones made several bizarre plays ranging from questionable to flat-out terrible. After missing two opportunities to pick up key first downs, Jones whiffed on linebacker Deion Jones in pass protection on 2nd-and-20. The Atlanta defender sacked Tom Brady, forcing a Bucs punt early in the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, it speaks for itself,” Arians said when asked about the blown block. “Ro, that’s his guy. He’s gotta get out of those types of situations. I thought he ran hard and protected the ball, but again, you can’t have those mental errors.”

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II Bruce Arians

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: USA Today

The pass protection mistakes are nothing new for Jones, who has struggled in that area all four years of his career. After a game-changing fumble against Dallas, the patience of the Bucs’ coaching staff may be wearing thin with Jones. As talented as the USC product is, Jones’ mistakes consistently derail an offense loaded with talent.

“This is his [fourth] year, man,” Arians said. “It shouldn’t be a problem, and at times it is. Attention to detail, like missing that blitz. He is a great runner and he caught the ball well. I would like to see him run for the first down [instead of going out of bounds before the marker]. His mind is fine, it’s just his play isn’t as good as it should be.”

Of course, Fournette nearly fumbled the game away on the drive before Jones’ gaffes. Later in the game, Fournette missed a clear hole on an opportunity to convert 4th-and-1 to ice the game. In the meantime, don’t worry. Giovani Bernard will stay nicely tucked away on the Tampa Bay sideline.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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eaustinyoung
1 month ago

Great runner. However he lacks: pass protection, consistent pass catching, ball security, and field awareness. He will never be elite.

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  eaustinyoung
1 month ago

Elite is not exactly what we’re looking for at this point. Adequate in all phases is something the Bucs would kill for. Between Rojo and Fournette, we have issues. NOT STUBBORN AT ALL to not play Gio lol.

bucballer
Reply to  NaplesFan2.0
1 month ago

Yes! Preach brother!

Spitfire
Reply to  eaustinyoung
1 month ago

His awareness while running is not the problem and waaaaaaaaay better than Fournette. Pure running, RoJo is head and shoulders the best one in the team. The RB position just requires so much more nowadays. We need to Draft a RB high next year.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Spitfire
1 month ago

Not true – RoJo’s awareness is not better than Fournette’s. RoJo is a straight line down the middle between the tackles bruiser – which is great to have on the team. But Fournette has much better football knowledge and awareness, such as where the first down marker is, than RoJo.

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Stop pushing this Fournette is good narrative. I dont believe there is anyone on this site that agrees with you. If Rojo is below average, then Fournette is a notch lower.

Horse
Reply to  Spitfire
1 month ago

I agree with you.

gcolerick
1 month ago

I believe a lot of fans will be jumping off the Rojo bandwagon after this week’s performance. What I like to know is why we Giovani Bernard is not getting more reps in lieu of Rojo’s poor performance.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  gcolerick
1 month ago

Love a lot of things about Arians but he dies on his own hills when it comes to player loyalty.

Horse
Reply to  eaustinyoung
1 month ago

I see it differently than you do; he’s the best coach we’ve ever had.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Horse
1 month ago

I never said he wasnt. But dude will make every excuse possible before he finally moves a player

drdneast
Reply to  gcolerick
1 month ago

I haven’t jumped off the bandwagon yet but I do have some compression in my leg ready to launch me. The whiff on that one blitz was inexcuseable. The LB even came crashing in from the side Jones was lined up on.

Eddie
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

Brady may have been hurt from that sack caused by RoJo. His throws were uncharacteristically off on the next few series. Lets hope he is not among those getting MRI.

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

So, what’s your vertical leap nowadays?

surferdudes
1 month ago

Been his biggest supporter, like I was for Jameis. The time has come for me though like it did with Winston where you just have to say, I give up. He doesn’t get it, probably never will. At some point a young player has to stop making bonehead plays, if he can’t it’s not lack of experience, the player is just a bonehead! Dumb players, or players who just never get it lose ball games. Four years in, there’s no excuse for playing like that. Good news is, he hasn’t been paid yet, and if I’m Licht, I ain’t writing… Read more »

geno711
Reply to  surferdudes
1 month ago

To your point and more, after the missed blitz pickup, Todd McNair comes over to him to discuss that last series. It appears that McNair is just talking and not yelling. Sitting there watching the scene, my buddy and I see Rojo just shaking his head “no” to McNair. We realize that Rojo does not really get it that he was fairly being coached – not yelled at. Whether Lenny fumbled earlier, a coach talking to you after that bad series is expected. I am sure that BA was told about this whole exchange and is really losing patience for… Read more »

Mike Pengelly
1 month ago

The non-use of Bernard is a curious one. Our two “first stringers” on 3rd and one seem to run into their blockers rather than hitting a hole too often. Would have liked to see Fournette break it to the outside on more than one occasion but it was not to be. Jones running out of bounds short of the sticks which were right in front of him is puzzling as well. We better get better both offensively and defensively or the Rams will be big trouble for us.

Eddie
1 month ago

Giovanni has to be on the field now. AB has no more excuses

fredster
1 month ago

Jones is better than a average runner but man the mistakes in blitz pickups, fumbles, going out bounds early really are lame at this point. Fournette ran hard and the juke was great but he can’t seem to play whole game with no gaffes either. I don’t know how much more we have to see with Jones before Bernard is used. At least try him here soon please!

Last edited 1 month ago by fredster
bucballer
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

Here here Fred, I agree! Play Gio now! Why wouldn’t u! Afraid he just might show up ur starting RBs?!

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  bucballer
1 month ago

The guy might have between 5-8 catches for 50 or so yards. Big 3rd down pickups and a reliable blocker sounds like a godsend.

bucballer
1 month ago

Our RB stable leaves a lot to be desired! Neither RoJo or Playoff Lenny is a solid complete RB. At this point though, Playoff Lenny is ur starter. Which means nothing. Because they will both still play. But at some point u gotta give Vaughn some carries and for God’s sake use what u have. Play Gio! There’s no reason not to and plenty reasons why u should! U can’t risk getting Brady hurt. If RoJo can’t pick up the blitzes and Lenny can’t run through the whole as opposed to running into the backs of ur OLinemen then between… Read more »

Captain Sly
1 month ago

Lobby for Gio Bernard all you want Jon but defenses aren’t going to respect him like they do Fournette or RoJo. I get that they haven’t playing up to par but defenses still have to keep an extra defender in the box to try and control the line of scrimmage. Gio Bernard is a situational RB and that’s all he’ll ever be.

bucballer
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

Hey Captain! Nobody is saying replace RoJo or Playoff Lenny! What we’re advocating for is at least give Gio a couple of carries in the rotation. BA says hot hand plays. Hell, I think even Vaughn should get a carry here or there. But now I’m just talking crazy. BA ain’t having that either.

NaplesFan2.0
1 month ago

I never root for injury, but there may be a silver lining if 1 of these backs misses a game or 2. Gio would give us a glimpse of what this offense would look like without 2 mistake prone knuckleheads toting the rock. At the very least, he would be better at keeping our 44 year old MVP candidate upright.

Spitfire
1 month ago

The most maddening part of all this is Bernard not getting half the damn snaps of each game. He’s got beautiful hands and adds a whole other dimension with the short passing game. I would take him averaging 3 yards per carry if he also catches 10 balls. Every time they throw to Fournette I hold my breath hoping it doesn’t bounce off of him. Ariana needs to put aside the stubbornness and just play Bernard more.

Dave
1 month ago

It baffles me why we’re not using Gio more. Absolutely no part of our running game has been great so far. Whether it’s running, pass catching, ball security, blocking, or 3rd downs. The duo of Rojo and Lenny have combined for 30 carries for 135 yds(4.5), 2 fumbles, 10 rec for 60 yds(6.0), 3 drops, multiple blown blitz pickups, and we’ve gone 9-23(.391) on 3rd downs. They also have ZERO runs over 10 yards, and only 1 reception over 15 yards. The fact that Gio has 4 touches so far, knowing how little we’ve gotten out of Rojo and Lenny,… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
The Wall
1 month ago

Why is Jones in the game on an obvious passing down? Why did we sign Bernard if we’re not going to use him? Jones could have cost us the game. What if Brady was hurt because he totally missed his assignment? The announcers were even astonished when he ran out of bounds instead of picking up the first down. We need to bench this guy before he costs us a game.

Naplesfan
1 month ago

RoJo’s issues are more about what’s above the shoulders than his talent as a runner. People do complain about our relatively low rushing output in yards, but the root cause of that is we are a pass happy team. Even Fournette, though he got 31 snaps, only got 11 carries. His YPC was still very good at 4.73. But teams that put up good numbers on rushing will play at least 40% of their snaps as runs .. but that’s not who the Bucs are today, for very good reasons. We’ve got the GOAT under center, and a fantastic crew… Read more »

Horse
1 month ago

Jones and Howard are in the same boat; time for both of them to prove they are worth playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yep they created this situation, so they can get out of it or not.

Benjamin
1 month ago

How Gio Bernard is not getting and snaps is insane to me. He is the best pass protector and pass catcher of all the Bucs RBs. He needs to be given snaps because Jones and Fournette are only good when rushing the ball. I am sorry but seeing Fournette in the screen game scares me every time I see the ball thrown his way and we all know Jones cannot be counted on to catch the ball.

Benjamin
1 month ago

Now I am not going to hammer a player for missing a block if it’s on something like an all out blitz where there’s multiple defenders coming at him bit what Jones missed was inexcusable the player came from the same side he was lined up on and he should have known there was going to be pressure there. It’s called film study and defensive tendencies. It’s why Gronk knew to act like he was blocking DLaw in week one then to turn it up field and give Tom a place to put the ball. Blocking from a RBs perspective… Read more »