The answers to these issues with the run game are straightforward. First, the Buccaneers have to use RoJo as much as possible to evaluate what they have. Second, Tampa Bay has to stop running the ball on first down.
As far as Jones is concerned, the Bucs have to figure out what they have in their third-year back. Jones was a solid runner in 2019 and even showed a substantial improvement in the passing game. If Tampa Bay wants to know what they have at running back, Jones will need to get approximately 200-250 touches on the ground and at least 40 targets in the passing game.
If the Buccaneers use Jones in this way and he finds success, they will know that they have found their starter. 1,000+ rushing yards and a few hundred receiving yards would go a long way towards shattering the perception of Bucs runners.
If Jones fails with this increased workload, Tampa Bay will need to trade for a proven option or make the necessary preparations for the future, but at least the team will know.
The other simple move for the Bucs to make is to reevaluate their game plan on first-down. In this scenario, running the ball is finding less success each year, and it has been proven that throwing on early downs is the proper move.
This would be a great time to get the backs involved in the passing game on early downs, rather than on later chances when it is easier to anticipate. The longevity of the running backs and their stat lines will quickly improve if they stop getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage several times per game in a predictable way.
If Ronald Jones had a handful of 100-yard rushing games during the 2019 season, the majority of the fanbase would’ve been a lot less keyed-in on running back in the prior draft.
Success heals all, and the Bucs need a successful running back this season.
If the Buccaneers still can’t run the football in 2020, the final solution would be to reevaluate those in charge of scouting running backs for the future. This may not be an easy move, but it would be one that would likely create results.