Ronald Jones had an impressive 2019 after his abysmal rookie year. Look for Jones to continue on his current pace and solidify his spot for the future.
Despite some short moments of promise and great play from guys like Ronald Jones, the 2019 campaign for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell flat. The Bucs ended up finishing third in the NFC South-losing second place on the final day of the season in a hard-fought overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
While the Buccaneer offense was one of the best in the league, the running game for the Bucs fell short of the very successful passing game. The rushing offense did not take the steps that Bruce Arians had hoped it would when he took over, but Ronald Jones is certainly a player to be very excited about for the 2020 season.
Fans appear to be split on Jones and his future as a Buc, and are already looking towards the 2020 draft to find the running back of the future. While the Bucs should probably draft another running back they may have already found their guy in Jones, who was painfully underutilized this year and was still able to put up over 1,000 total yards.
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Rojo finished the season with 724 rushing yards and 309 receiving yards to go along with six rushing touchdowns. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry and nearly 10 yards per catch for a total average of five yards per touch.
For comparison, Saquon Barkley averaged 5.4 yards per touch, Alvin Kamara averaged 5.3 yards per touch, and Christian McCaffrey averaged 5.9 yards per touch. These three backs are incredibly talented and of similar age to Jones who is only a hair behind these three in terms of efficiency.
The biggest way Ronald Jones differs from the rest of these backs is the number of touches that he receives in each game. From top to bottom the Buccaneers completely mismanaged the running backs this season and Jones essentially operated in a three-way timeshare with two inferior backs.
Even though Kamara saw some snaps shift in favor of Latavius Murray he was still able to make it up in the passing game, something that Ronald Jones should also start to see more of.
Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale are great for the heart of the Buccaneers but unfortunately their talents simply do not translate to the field. Ogunbowale was a great story to start the year but was inept as a runner and only a fraction better than Jones in the passing game if at all.
Barber had some good moments on the goal line but was still underwhelming as far as efficiency was concerned and served as more of a handcuff for Jones than support.
Jones has shown that he has the talent and the athleticism to be a 1,000-yard rusher and a 50 reception back. He had many games where he split snaps evenly with Peyton Barber (which should be a crime) and Rojo was often left out of third-down scenarios in favor of Ogunbowale despite being a credible pass-catching back.
Jones had 20 touches only two times for the entire season and that is the first thing that has to change before more improvements can be made. The Buccaneers should strongly consider moving on from Barber, Ogunbowlae, or both this offseason and look at giving a greater share of touches to Rojo.
As of now the best option for the Buccaneers would be to let Ogunbowale go and allow Jones to take a higher percentage of the third-down opportunities. The Bucs could then re-sign Peyton Barber to a team-friendly deal while also drafting a rookie to take Barber’s place in 2021.
Ronald Jones was able to prove this year that he is electric with the ball in his hands and the Bucs’ best bet to improve the run game and offense in 2020 is to give Jones the ball more.