With Bucs training camp quickly approach the PewterReport.com staff asks – and answers – 15 critical camp questions that need to be answered this August as Tampa Bay prepares to embark on the 2019 season. Over the next 15 days PewterReport.com will offer up its thoughts on the topics that the Bucs will need to sort out in order for the team to be successful this season and possibly compete for a long-awaited playoff berth.

These are the things that the PewterReport.com staff will be following closely in camp, and invite our readers to share their thoughts as well in the comment section.

Bucs Critical Camp Question No. 9:
Can Ronald Jones Win The No. 2 RB Job?

Yes. It will take a good training camp with some productive preseason games, but Jones has the capability to get it done.

There’s no sugarcoating it, Jones had a terrible rookie season in 2018 that saw him carry the ball just 23 times for 44 yards and one touchdown. Jones was also inactive for the first three games of the season, and saw very little playing time when dressed. His last rush attempt came in Week 12, but even worse than that, his confidence was shaken.

It would be easy to give Jones the bust label early on as a second-round pick, but you can also point out that Jones was not entirely given a fair shake. It’s tough to get a rhythm going when you get no carries, and even when the Bucs were out of the playoff race Tampa Bay didn’t even bother to get a look at Jones to see what they have for the future.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Even in the limited amount of time Jones had, he constantly had defenders in the backfield before he could even touch the ball. He had to try and break tackles before reaching the line of scrimmage, and that’s on the offensive line, not Jones. That was something that new coach Bruce Arians pointed out early on when addressing the topic of Jones’ struggles.

Since Arians has taken over as head coach, both he, Jason Licht, and running backs coach Todd McNair have all given Jones a vote of confidence. So far in 2019, it looks like Jones has received the message and put in the work to get better this offseason.

Coming into this year, Jones has looked to wipe the slate clean with his offseason training. In an article from Charean Williams on Pro Football Talk, Jones mentioned that he’s added weight, going from 208 to 221 pounds to become stronger, and also set some goals for this season.

“Personally, for me, I just want to lead the team in rushing and be that player who can ignite the offense,” Jones said. “Because that’s who I am. I’m a playmaker.”

Although he’s increased his weight, that doesn’t mean it will slow down Jones. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash out of his pro day at USC before the draft, and that speed is not only why the Bucs selected him, but it’s the speed type of back that this team needs.

With Peyton Barber as the starter, the competition for the number two position is between Jones, veteran Andre Ellington, and undrafted rookie Bruce Anderson. What Jones has over his two teammates is that game-breaking speed. In Arians’ offense he’ll more than likely have more opportunities to run in open space by design.

Bucs RB Peyton Barber
Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Another issue for Jones last season was his ability to catch the ball. It was a liability in training camp that festered over into the regular season, which limited his usage on third down. McNair mentioned back at his press conference in May that they had been working on this with him.

One of Arians’ greatest successes came from a speed back in David Johnson, who did as much damage in the passing game then he did in the run game, if not more, which included a first team All-Pro selection in 2016 under Arians. It will be imperative for Jones to improve on this if he wants to see the field.

The veteran Ellington will could get the early nod as the third down back due to his experience in Arians’ offense and his pass catching ability, but that doesn’t mean Jones won’t get the majority of carries after Barber. If that Bucs want to be successful, it should be Jones that is second on the team in rushing, not Jameis Winston.

Jones is responsible for his own struggles in 2018, but that’s not exactly the whole story. With improved play calling, the offensive line, and Jones himself, the Bucs could find that untapped potential for Jones in 2019 and set themselves up well for the remaining two years of his contract.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Lets cut the BS here. If Jones does not produce like his pedigree says he’s suppose to this year? I’d cut him
    with a recommendation for a Burger King or Church’s Chicken Mngt job!! This kid was drafted way to high to not be productive. What a Major disappointment last season. I love Bellacheat from the Pats. Know why? Because they waste not. They will shake your hand and cut you quicker than an orthopedic surgeon. Batter up Mr Jones. Poop or get off the GD Pot!!! GO BUCS!

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  2. Let’s give the kid a chance. BA has a history with young RB see Vic Ballard & David Johnson. I challenge anybody to try and run the rock when a defender is hitting you on the handoff.

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  3. I think RoJo will be more productive. Question is can he play better than the surging Barber and Ellington? When Ellington is healthy he is electric.

    From all indications from jersey practices is that RoJo has improved his pass catching and his burst to the hole. The true test is when the pads go on and the defense will throw curve balls with blitzes. How does he adjust?

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  4. Geez twspin I’d hate for you to coach my teams. You realize for some people it takes more than one year to get adjusted to the nfl speed. In jones case, how is he supposed to get better when he has less the 40 carries ALL YEAR. And considering anyone with eyes could see that he was hit in the back field almost every carry. Now the catching is a concern, but hopefully some practice will hope. Anyone who knows Koetter, knows he never liked rookie running backs. It’s always been his theme to play the experienced back aka Jaquize Rodgers. If teams followed your line of thinking Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, etc. never would love made it out of their rookie deals.l because all of them put up crappy numbers their first few years in the league. Jones has a lot to prove but getting more reps can only help. Let’s wait a little before you dismantle The whole team with your “bust” label

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  5. Context is definitely important when it comes to RoJo. I’m glad some people are understanding that, and I’m equally as glad to see that RoJo is taking responsibility and training hard to rebound from a down season, despite the context that it obviously wasn’t all his fault. I still have high hopes for the kid…I still worry a bit about our OL though. We really went all in on this same OL this season, which seems unwise for a unit that had so many obvious issues blocking in the run game last year. Let’s just hope the change in scheme and coaching staff can prop them up a bit…launching George Warhop from the cannons was a good start.

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  6. It wasn’t just his physical abilities as a runner that was the problem for Jones. It was the immaturity between his ears as well. It’s been said that the kid was not aware of what it took to be a professional RB! Let’s hope that both problems correct themselves as they both go hand in hand. Remember, this kid has been “big man” on campus his entire life due to his football abilities. The NFL can/is an eye opener for many not just Jones!

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  7. It wasn’t just his physical abilities as a runner that was the problem for Jones. It was the immaturity between his ears as well. It’s been said that the kid was not aware of what it took to be a professional RB! Let’s hope that both problems correct themselves as they both go hand in hand. Remember, this kid has been “big man” on campus his entire life due to his football abilities. The NFL can/is an eye opener for many not just Jones!

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  8. He deserves another year in a new system but hes still nowhere as good as Barber is.

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  9. Chefboho…I’m just tired of all of the excuses in Bucland..yr after yr. Mr and Mrs..Coulda/Woulda and Shoulda. We specailize in them all. Good teams are good teams for a reason. We have spent yrs developing this so called Monster Offense. When our forte..our calling card that made us great was..DEFENSE. We let that go and look where its gotten us?..Permanent residency as celler dwellers. We change coaches more than I change my grandson’s diapers! The keys to this team is..has Jameis become better and has our Sorry a** Defense improved. If not??Look for us to keep our bottom standing in the NFL.

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  10. Good lord, the guy shows up – 20 years old by the way, horrible O-line and getting smacked as he takes handoffs, is being asked to catch out of the backfield which he never did in college, then gets benched. And he’s the problem. I’ll give him some more time.

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  11. I think we all can agree he should be able to show us at least 500+yards rushing and 15+ completions. Everything else for me would be gravy and would be beneficial for the team.

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  12. NFL players will tell you that the two toughest things to do is to transition into the league and transition out of the league. Relax people the kid will be fine. I’ve got news for some: he’s the only RB1 we have on the roster. I like Barber and I respect the fact that he has worked himself into this position but he is not the future. Ronald Jones was drafted for his Homerun ability. A threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. No disrespect to Barber but he just can’t do that. Let’s give these coaches an opportunity to coach’em up and watch this kid Blossom. You’ll See Go Bucs!!

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  13. I guess I have a different take – as usual.

    This kid was drafted in the second round – that’s pretty high for a RB nowadays. Regardless of last season (which I’m fine to give him a pass on), I think if he’s not pushing Barber (who I like BTW, but really is not a top-tier starter in the NFL) by say mid-season to be the starter, then we can’t go into 2020 again with Barber as our starter and RoJo as his backup…we’ll need a whole new approach. Such as, drafting (or signing in FA) a new starter, and making Barber the backup.

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  14. Yes I do agree that RoJo should be pushing Barber and Ellington. But that argument goes the other as well in that Ogunbowale with his soft hands and Bruce Anderson will be pushing RoJo, Barber and Ellingrton.

    Of the five from this group the Bucs keep the best four IMVHO. I do not believe the RBs from this group are the worst in the league or will be. I think the o-line needs to show up and the rest is very elementary.

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  15. Think of last season as his redshirt freshman year. We’ll get a true sense of what he is most likely to be very soon, can’t wait, football is almost back.

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  16. To me his struggles were as much or more so on this O line. The tape doesn’t lie and he was hit in the backfield majority of plays. That’s death to run plays and seldom does any RB get positive yards when that happens.

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  17. I hope Jones ends camp as our #1 RB with Barber as our backup. I think it is a possibility that can happen. He has a lot of talent, and really, just needs some help bringing it out. I believe Arians is the guy to do that. This is one camp battle I have my eye for sure. Go Bucs!

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  18. I believe we’ll see a drastic change for the better from the youngster. What encourages me is that he is blaming no one but himself and taking steps to get better……..and bigger. His confidence was shaken early in 2018 and never was able to get the boost he needed due to the limited opportunities.

    Folks should remember when they started their first job out of school and not knowing how to work the copier. Co-workers whisper, “Gee, that kid is a college graduate and he doesn’t even know how to print on two sides.” Things change with time. Hey, I even know how to scan now. I got this shit!!!!!

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  19. Putting aside the obvious – that the team would be far better off if the GM had used the second round pick on an offensive lineman – Jones should easily be the rebound player of 2019.

    While Barber is good at getting more out of a play than you think is there, Jones has the speed and has shown he can break plays wide open in college. Even with continued subpar play by the OL he should get to 500 yards and if the line gels (we can only hope) he could do much better than that. Agree with others he can and should be the RB1 by mid season, otherwise I’ll personally be disappointed

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  20. Easy choice for a RB who couldn’t get 50 yards in a season. He is a waste of a roster spot. BTW, Winston knows the feeling of being surrounded as soon as the ball is snapped. Good thing we drafted OL, wait…

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  21. These articles are exactly why being a Bucs fan gives false hope and make for further message board arguments later on. Absolutely no way he gets 500+ yards , and here’s why. OLine ignored for last decade backed up by “60/40 “…That’s the lopsided play calling favoring throwing the ball. Arian’s chose the assistant who likes to pass more than run as our play caller. Same mindset he has. You can’t have Jameis putting up his “stats” , Evans getting 1300+ yards, Godwin’s “100” catch year, OJ Howard’s breakout season , Ellington’s catches out of the backfield, the upcoming B. Perriman home run catches some are believing, etc . Then expect a guy who hasn’t even supplanted the starting RB , to rush for 500+ yards. Nothing against Rojo , but he’d have to get 125+ carries minimum and I don’t see it. So then when he doesn’t live up to his draft spot or these expectations due to the above reasons, what will next offseason be like for him? What will the forums and fans be saying? Bust? Cut him? His fault, Olines fault, coaching fault, or all of the above? Just more Bucs drama and dissenting amongst fans when we should already ACCEPT he was the wrong choice for us at that pick and this team isn’t in position to let him shine regardless of his draft spot or talent.

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