The Pewter Plank’s Position Preview series kicks off with the running backs. The Buccaneers are looking to revamp a subpar rushing attack with the addition of Ronald Jones II.
Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. The team rushed for just 1450 yard and general manager Jason Licht made it a priority this offseason to right the ship.
The Buccaneers drafted Ronald Jones II in the second round of the NFL Draft and added center Ryan Jensen to solidify the interior of the offensive line.
With another promising player entering the fold and an improved offensive line, the Buccaneers have the recipe for a viable ground attack.
Still, banking hopes on a rookie is dangerous. Unfortunately, Tampa doesn’t have anywhere else to turn. Doug Martin was let go after a brutal 2017 and the returning backs aren’t all that impressive either.
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Jacquizz Rodgers averaged under four yards per carry and Charles Sims carried the ball just 21 times last year. The lone bright spot was Peyton Barber. A former undrafted free agent who led the team in rushing.
The Buccaneers backfield will likely be led by a pair of young, unproven players. If the duo of Jones and Barber can live up to their potential, there is reason for optimism in Tampa Bay.
Before we break down their 2018 season outlook, here is what the Buccaneers have to work with:
On the roster:
Peyton Barber, Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Ronald Jones, Shaun Wilson and Dalton Crossan
On the bubble:
Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Shaun Wilson, and Dalton Crossan
Aside from Barber and Jones, it will be open competition for the final spots on the roster. Odds are, Rodgers or Sims will earn a spot, but the likelihood of keeping both of them is slim. The two unknowns, Shaun Wilson and Dalton Crossan have a chance to sneak onto the roster with a big showing during camp.
It’ll be one of the most anticipated battles when training camp opens.
Ronald Jones is the difference maker for this position group. Tamp Bay will need a monster rookie season from Jones if they are to turn their rushing attack around. The Buccaneers offense is loaded with talent and a legitimate threat on the ground will take the pressure off of a pair of turnover prone quarterbacks.
Frankly, the Buccaneers are probably not going to get consistent production on the ground. The young backfield will have rough patches throughout the season and the Buccaneers will have to rely on Winston’s arm to put points on the board.
One of the biggest differences from last season will be Jones’ big play ability. His elusiveness will allow for big gains on the ground, something Tampa hasn’t seen of late.
Despite the bumps in the road the team may face in 2018, the future is bright for Tampa. Jones could develop into a top running back in the league. If Barber can play a solid complimentary role, the Bucs will be in good hands for a long time.