Welcome, Bucs fans, to the new look Bucs Briefing! During the season I’ll be studying the All-22 tape of each game, and providing you with a comprehensive film breakdown of what went right and what went wrong for the Bucs on Sundays.

The hope is that Bucs Briefing will be live on the site early each Wednesday morning, allowing fans to get a long look at the coaches tape and see the game from more exciting angles. From Leonard Fournette’s big day, to the splash plays down the field from Tom Brady and Co. to the defense’s opportunistic play, we’ve got a lot to cover in our Week 2 film breakdown.

Vintage Fournette In Week 2 – The Good And The Bad

Many of you have decided I hate Fournette, and while I certainly think he’s been extremely underwhelming during his NFL career, I’ve always maintained that he still has a useful skill set if used sparingly enough. We were able to see some of those strengths on Sunday, as well as a play as a receiver that I have never seen him make before.

The Panthers linebackers being awful certainly was a big part of why the running game broke out late in the fourth quarter, but this is some crafty running by Fournette, too. With left guard Ali Marpet and left tackle Donovan Smith heavy on the double team and center Ryan Jensen walling off the nose, Fournette has to make linebacker Shaq Thompson miss if the run is going to be successful. Fournette heads for the C gap, then bounces back to the A gap at the last second after moving the linebacker with his footwork.

When Fournette can see things clearly at the first level, that’s where he is at his best. If there is backfield penetration or a muddy picture up front at all, his productivity goes way down. Give him defined space and he can even play mind games with second level linebackers, but you’ve gotta keep the first level clean for him.

Fournette didn’t end up needing to move any linebackers on his 46-yard touchdown run to seal the game, but I love his process here to come straight downhill and keep that MIKE linebacker from cheating into the A gap. He bounces the run at the last second, and right guard Alex Cappa does a great job working off his double with rookie right tackle Tristan Wirfs to get enough of middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead to let Fournette get through the first level unscathed.

It seems extremely odd because Fournette is so big and strong, but he’s really not a physical or nasty runner the vast majority of the time at the line of scrimmage. That physicality often occurs at the second level of the defense. As his career has gone on, he’s actually run with far more finesse than he has with physicality, and in the above examples that process works for him. But at times, Fournette’s unwillingness to get vertical and use his frame as a weapon should drive viewers absolutely nuts.

There is a clear path here for Fournette to take on tiny little cornerback Donte Jackson in the open field and absolutely smash him back to Carolina, and instead he stops his feet and tries to bounce outside Scotty Miller’s block. You’re 228 pounds of pure muscle, dude! Destroy that sub-180-pound cornerback! This is the lack of instincts and finishing ability that Fournette has that is frustrating given his size and speed.

The Bucs run counter trey here to near-perfection, and the result is a solid gain. But why is Fournette stopping his feet in the open field instead of taking on that cornerback? Slowing down only gives the cornerback more courage and an easier target to hit. It also allows the defensive end to chase him down from behind. The result is a gain that isn’t as significant as it should have been. Fournette can still do a better job of running through contact.

The reality is that Fournette isn’t a big threat in space, and given his pedigree, size and speed, that seems almost impossible for us to comprehend. How is a running back that big and fast so easy to bring down in the open field? Ask Jaguars fans, they’ll tell you just how difficult that pill has been to swallow over the years.

I get that this pass from Brady isn’t on Fournette’s upfield shoulder, but this isn’t a great tackle attempt by the corner either, who doesn’t hit Fournette squarely and manages to just snag a foot. Boom – down like a fallen tree. It’s a good reminder that when scouting running backs, short and stout is usually better than tall and built. Center of gravity is an important trait for a position that takes more hits than any other.

I can live with Fournette’s lack of open field instincts and physicality to a degree, as all that tells me is that he isn’t going to be a special running back in the NFL. As long as the Bucs aren’t paying him top dollar and asking him to carry their offense, I’m okay with those limitations.

Where Fournette will lose me forever is if his bouts of poor vision from his Jacksonville days creep up again in Tampa Bay. We saw a couple examples in Week 1, and in Week 2 things were a lot better. But Fournette still has a couple wasted carries a game that tank his efficiency numbers.

I’ve paused the GIF so you can clearly see where Fournette should have gone with the ball. Wirfs gets outstanding movement on the three-technique, the middle linebacker takes himself out of the play, and tight end Rob Gronkowski has uprooted the defensive end with a tremendous base block. Tight end O.J. Howard has sealed off the SAM linebacker, and the result should be Fournette blasting through the C gap for a one-on-one with the safety and possibly a touchdown.

Instead, Fournette takes the ball and runs directly between Gronkowski and the defender, running directly into a tackle. This has been a frequent issue on his tape over the years, as Fournette will just wrap the ball up and bull ahead like it’s a short-yardage situation when there is space to run to. Those vision lapses can’t happen, as it wastes tremendous blocking on a run play like this, which is already hard to come by. If you can’t be a difference-maker or a creator with the ball, you have to at least be efficient.

Now, the BEST news with Fournette is that we saw something from him as a receiver on Sunday that I have never seen him do before.

This was one of the most underrated plays of the game, with the Bucs up 7-0 facing a third down deep in Panthers territory. Fournette, who is flanked out wide at the bottom of the screen, runs a return route, breaking back toward the middle of the field after running a quick out. The savvy move created a throwing window for Brady, who laced a perfect pass to Fournette, leading him down to the 1-yard line.

That’s really heads up stuff from Fournette, who ran a route typically reserved for wide receivers and separated from coverage to make a huge play. This ball is probably thrown away if Fournette doesn’t uncover from the linebacker, leading to a Tampa Bay field goal. The big running back’s sure hands and route-running savvy here gave the Bucs at least four points as he finished off the drive with his first touchdown in Tampa Bay.

Oh No, RoJo

A fair evaluation of Fournette gives us some good and bad things to get excited about, as would a fair evaluation of Ronald Jones II. The difference is that with Jones, his mistakes could have been incredibly costly and directly contributed to the team’s two turnovers on Sunday. Like it or not, big moment mistakes stick in the minds of fans, media and even coaches.

The most noticeable of Jones’ errors was his fumbled exchange with Brady on a draw play with Tampa Bay driving, a blunder that should never happen at the NFL level.

“RoJo [is responsible for the fumble],” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said to the media on Monday. “It’s patience [and] it’s a draw play. He saw a big ol’ hole, he took off before Tom was ready to hand it and his elbow was down. It’s just all patience and it’s all on Ronald.”

But later in the game, a blown protection by Jones was one aspect of a tide-turning play that helped fuel the Panthers’ brief comeback against the Bucs.

Off the play-action Brady looks to hit Gronk on the over route, but pressure from his right side forces him off his platform and causes the ball to sail a bit. The culprits? First, Jones is supposed to go inside of Marpet’s block on the defensive end, blocking the blitzing linebacker off the edge. Luckily for Tampa Bay, that linebacker inexplicably hesitates instead of delivering a kill shot to Brady, but still arrives in time to help pressure the throw.

Cappa also gets semi-beaten by Zach Kerr, but he’s expecting more help from Wirfs, as the line steps down on the run fake. Wirfs should be heavy on the three-technique with Cappa, but instead ends up looking at the linebacker who never comes. Also, as I wrote on Tuesday, Brady deserves blame for falling off his base as he releases the throw, causing an inaccurate ball that sails and gets picked off.

These are the mistakes Jones cannot afford to make however, especially with Fournette breathing down his neck for more playing time. Despite the former Jaguar’s weaknesses, Jones hasn’t done anything through the first two weeks of the season to suggest he’s clearly a superior option. When that’s the case, the hot hand usually gets to eat.

CLICK ON PAGE 2 TO SEE LEDYARD’S BREAKDOWN OF MIKE EVANS EATIN’

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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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Dundaz
10 months ago

This segment is great! Thanks Jon. Looking forward to the Devin White film breakdown. It seems that a lot of the criticism on Kwon is directed at White as well.

Bucnut2
10 months ago

Really GREAT analysis Jon! thank you

BigSombrero
10 months ago

Criticism of Fournette is unwarranted again. He’s only the best RB the Bucs have had since Doug Martin!

To the younger generation of analysts like PFF and Jon Ledyard who think that the world revolves around 2nd/3rd round scat backs and passing 24/7, it’s to be expected.

Meanwhile, Derrick Henry, Zeke, Chris Carson, Mark Ingram, Jon Taylor and Len Fournette will continue punishing defenses into submission.

Dman
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

Yup. Just don’t get it myself, but the guys you mention are all long term NFL RB’s, where a lot of these other guys may have one or two decent years – historically known as “Flash in the Pan”.

BigSombrero
Reply to  Jon Ledyard
10 months ago

Drinking at work again? Lol. What does your sentence mean? Are you saying that the Titans would be as effective at winning with Dion Lewis(or any back) running the ball instead of D.Henry? Or are you saying that Henry only gets positive yards because Ryan Tannehill is his QB? Of course QB’s are the most valuable position in football. They handle the ball on every play that isn’t a special teams play. I’m just saying this devaluation of the RB position (that is popular on PFF and with many younger analysts) is short sighted IMO. Its the most important complement… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by BigSombrero
Captain Sly
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

I agree Well Said!

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

Carson is averaging a whopping 46 rushing yards per game. Ingram is averaging 42 yards per game. And Taylor doesn’t punish anyone. All he has to do is do what he did at Wisconsin….just slowly jog through the mammoth size holes the leagues best offensive line opens for him. He’s amazingly averaged more yards before contact, than after lol(1.8-1.7). And on 35 carries, he has exactly ONE broken tackle. And as far as Fournette, Ronald Jones breaks tackles at a rate FOUR times as high as LF does. Let that sink in. Henry is the only punishing back you mentioned

Last edited 10 months ago by Dave
lambeau
10 months ago

Tremendous, Jon. Your points are clearly illustrated–hard to dispute them.Paging Todd McNair! Do your job!

Michael76
10 months ago

Wirf has graded out as 76.4 (14th best tackle/2nd best rookie tackle), only slightly below Windfield’s 77.4.

https://www.nfl.com/videos/pff-rookie-grades-through-week-2

Meanwhile David and Marpet both graded out in the 90’s

https://www.nfl.com/videos/pff-90-club-highest-graded-players-of-week-2

Last edited 10 months ago by Michael76
BleedOrange78
10 months ago

Outstanding read. While I, or others, may not totally agree with your analysis in some areas (and I admit I do NOT study any film), you back up your points very well. I really look forward to the forthcoming editions of you Bucs Briefing. Keep up the good work!!

surferdudes
10 months ago

Nice piece Jon. Devin White last year, Wirfs, Winfield this year. Licht is finally learning you draft players who’ve played the position in college at a high level for at least the last 3 years. Wirfs has a better chance of succeeding because he’s comfortable at right tackle. Same with Winfield. They don’t have to learn the position as much as get use to the pro game. No more converting draft choices to positions they didn’t play at college. That includes Wirfs, he’s a pro bowl RT don’t F him up moving him to the left side. Round one next… Read more »

Dman
Reply to  Jon Ledyard
10 months ago

Smith has already had years to figure it out. Not much confidence in him at this point.

DT25
10 months ago

All really good analysis Jon, as always. I will say on the RoJo block, it seems he sees the free running DE and chooses him as the greater of two evils before Marpet, being the athletic freak he is, swoops in from across the line and blocks him. By that time, RoJo isn’t in position to take the lesser of two evils, that being the LB running a little stunt (hence why he hesitates). It’s a well designed blitz against an interesting offensive front. Having Marpet cross the line to take on the blitz isn’t exactly ideal there. Plus, I’d… Read more »

BigSombrero
10 months ago

On the play action interception, who was Wirfs blocking? Also, why did Brady force a throw into coverage when Evans was WIDE OPEN behind Gronk?

chefboho
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

yeah, because Jameis NEVER did that lol. There were at least five or six throws a game where jaboo would force it into double or even triple coverage, but yeah pick out one throw a game or one missed block that Wirfs has. Maybe one day someone will agree with your nonsense you seem to spew on a regular basis

BigSombrero
Reply to  chefboho
10 months ago

Winston is gone. Dotson is gone. I didn’t mention either player. I’ve moved on. Still, there’s no denying that Winston (and Dotson) got a raw deal for their career(s) in Tampa. By all means though, feel free to remind me and anyone else that I preferred an adaptable strong armed QB entering his prime, and not one who has been in one system for his career and is in his twilight at age 43. PS : Bucs are currently ranked 25th in total offense, 25th in passing, 23rd in rushing. Eventually, they’ll have to play teams with good offenses and… Read more »

BigSombrero
Reply to  Jon Ledyard
10 months ago

Thanks. I missed the role of Wirfs in the initial read. Only that RoJo, Marpet, and Cappa were at fault for the hurried throw. And I thought Evans was the primary since he had seperation and was behind the defense streaking to the pylon.

Wausa
10 months ago

I will give you credit you have not wavered in your analysis that you do not think he is a good NFL running back. His production for a terrible Jacksonville team and his production with the Bucs over a short period of time would indicate otherwise. Perhaps you are right that the guy stinks, but I think you have your mind made up so your analysis will fit the narrative of him not being any good.

drdneast
10 months ago

I can understand why people think you don’t like Fournette. The RB position is very instinctual and decisions are made in microsecond as to where to run. They don’t have the comfortable surroundings of a desk chair and monitor to decide what to do.
Still, I do like your film breakdowns and your analysis, I just take some of them with a grain of salt.
The Panthers sure do miss Luke Kueckly.

a-bomb
10 months ago

I don’t hear Jon saying that Fournette is not a “good” running back. I hear him pointing out the things that keep him from being an “elite” running back. If he was a 3rd round pick we would all be lauding his efforts. But he is not, he is a player with tremendous size/speed/athleticism who was a top 5 selection. So, the expectation that he should be a Elliott/Barkley type of player is not unwarranted. The point, I think, is that a “good” Fournette can provide positive contributions but he is not able to completely carry the offense. But the… Read more »

DT25
Reply to  a-bomb
10 months ago

This. It’s clear as day on film…he DOES miss opportunities at times. It is frustrating because with his combination of size and speed, he can absolutely be maybe the best RB in the NFL if his vision and decision making with the ball in his hands were more consistent. Doesn’t mean he’s not good RB, and don’t think Jon is saying that at all. But that’s why he drives film guys nuts…because he is so close to being so damn good.

Last edited 10 months ago by DT25
a-bomb
10 months ago

I should have added that the breakdown was fantastic, Jon. This is a great addition to the PR features.

PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Ehh.. fournette is still getting used to the offense. I think his reads will get better the more comfortable he gets. He still had 12 carries for 103 yds and 2 tds. Sure he missed some holes but I’ll take my chances. He’s a major reason why we won and will be a major reason our running game is a threat this year. he’s a top ten running back in this league and from what I’ve been reading, he ignited a fire behind the offensive line and is starting to win them over.. Ive said it before, not overly impressed… Read more »

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Jon Ledyard
10 months ago

It’s like Cook trying to slam Vea for not showing up in the stat sheet as a 3-4 nt and having a problem seeing his “value”. You both try too hard.

Mark Alsott
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Likening JL to MC is absurd. With regard to football analysis, they are complete opposites.

If you don’t value JL’s evaluations, then you are being intentionally obtuse. Who else on this site, besides the member Nobody, breaks down film in this manner?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, yet when the best part of your argument is that you’re not “overly” impressed, or that JL “tries too hard”, that’s not much to go on. It is clear that JL knows what he is talking about, while you… well, let’s just say the jury is still deliberating.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Mark Alsott
9 months ago

Actually it’s not absurd at all. Last time I checked, mark Cook gives his thoughts about players as well, or am I mistaken and he just gives his opinions on baking and chess? And did I claim to be better than ledyard? Don’t think so. I said I wasn’t impressed and that he tries too hard. Do I need to go into a 5 page analysis on why I believe that he isn’t as awe inspiring as you and others make him out to be to appease you? No, don’t need to do that either as I could care less… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by PissedOffBuc1988
Mark Alsott
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
9 months ago

Thank you for responding! I feared that you wouldn’t. Your post clearly shows that you have much difficulty assimilating information, along with a penchant for adolescent tantrums. I’ll present my case: 1) JL v. MC: JL gives us Xs & Os, along with schemes and concepts, evaluations of players’ metrics, and more, while MC mostly gives us memories of games past and editorials, all while desperately trying to be funny. (Spoiler Alert: He’s not.) To not understand the ocean of difference between the two, as it relates to football, is… alarming. I haven’t seen any of MC’s posts about baking… Read more »

PatrioticChief
10 months ago

Everyone whines about writing a narrative but I see several people reading their own narrative. Ledyard spent twice as much time praising Fournette as he did critiqueing him and yet all people could comprehend was “you hate Fournette brrr.” Fournette does seem to have sure hands, even if he isn’t very good in terms of YAC. If he can start serving as a legitimate receiving outlet on some plays that would would be a nice boost to the offense. Rojo had a rough game. It’s one game. We will see how he rebounds. If he doesn’, Fournette will be there… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by PatrioticChief
Wausa
Reply to  PatrioticChief
10 months ago

This is not the first time he has downplayed his production. He has done it repeatedly on Pewter Report podcast.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Wausa
10 months ago

Thank you wausa. You see it too.

BigSombrero
Reply to  PatrioticChief
10 months ago

RoJo is who he is. Fans who were here before the Great Savior and his bandwagon of starry eyed pom-pom tusslers have watched RoJo show 1-2 flashes per 20 touches for the last 2 years.

Fournette will likely supercede RoJo and McCoy sooner than later due to hands, size, and ability.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

Sombrero I know I might not agree with you a lot, but on this you’re right. Rojo is at best 2nd string back. As in he should not be getting more touches than fournette. You can get excited and behind fournette. Why? Because he’s done it before and has the obvious physical skills to back it up. If you are being honest with yourself and you had to pick between fournette or rojo, who would you pick? If anyone picks rojo you’re either being very stubborn or you just are blind to talent. Fournette is a gift from the football… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Anyone that picks Rojo is either stubborn or blind to talent? Im sorry, what exactly has Leonard Fournette done in this league? And what can he do that Rojo is incapable of? Now before you answer, keep in mind that Rojo has NEVER been given the opportunity to be an every down back like LF has. Fournette has never played a full season, has never topped 1155 yards, has never had double digit rushing TD’s, and has topped 3.9 ypc once in 3 seasons. Now let’s compare the two on a per touch basis. YPC) Fournette slightly edged him 4… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Dave
PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Dave
9 months ago

Lol if I could laugh in your face I would 😂. You’re not worth the time and effort.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Dave
9 months ago

You whined and threw a tantrum like a toddler when tampa drafted wirfs. You can go to your room now.

Spruce
10 months ago

That’s about as good an analysis as we fans can get but it needs to be taken in context. It’s really early and Fournette is a babe in the woods to the system and Brady. In my view the best case scenario is not to expect lion size snap counts but a meaningful role with a nice slice of the running snaps using his strength that does not include being a receiver.. Fact is Brady’s immobility requires backs that can catch the ball. Made that much more important by Gronks relegation to mostly blocking. A run first back is too… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Spruce
PatrioticChief
10 months ago

A couple other notes 1) Halfway through the first quarter of the season, I don’t think our secondary is quite as good as people want it to be but I do think it’s going to be real close to the expectation by season end. I think we will really have a gauge on their full potential next year and I am very excited about it. How quickly they reach their potential, and I think they have a lot, could readily decide how this season goes. 2) Licht does his best work as a GM when he doesn’t overthink. Wirfs and… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by PatrioticChief