Ronald Jones vs. Leonard Fournette: Who should start Super Bowl LV?

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have options at running back for Super Bowl LV.

For the first time in a long time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a good predicament on their hands, two explosive and capable running backs. The question is, who should be the lead back for Super Bowl LV?

Ronald Jones II showed he should be the lead man throughout the entirety of the regular season, finishing the year with 978 rushing yards, while averaging 5.1 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns.

Granted, Jones has had his fair share of struggles catching the ball out of the backfield, but when he does finally haul the ball in opposing teams have to respect his ability in the open field. Jones showed this year when he has open space, he is going to make teams pay.

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When the Bucs played Kansas City at home earlier this season, Jones was considered the lead back. The Bucs found themselves down big, so the run game wasn’t used as much as they would have liked as a result. Rojo still managed to carry the ball nine times for a total of 66 yards. He also had a big 37-yard reception while adding a touchdown.

Jones is the better runner of the two thanks to his vision expanding. He has also learned how to hit holes with quickness and explosion, while also being able to make guys miss out in space.

Now let’s take a look at the other Bucs back in the mix for Super Bowl LV.

With all that being said, it can’t be ignored that Leonard Fournette has kicked it into a different gear for the playoffs. His play this postseason has Fournette becoming known as “Playoff Lenny”. Needless to say, Bucs fans absolutely love it.

Fournette had around 100 fewer rushing attempts than Jones, (97 total) and about 600 fewer rushing yards during the regular season. Compare that to his postseason stats, where Fournette has had 48 rushing attempts, which is almost half of his total regular-season attempts. Fournette has also rushed for 211 yards, only 150 yards behind his regular-season total.

Fournette, unlike Jones, has also been extremely reliable catching passes out of the backfield, already amassing 102 yards receiving this postseason. Sure, we can deep dive into the numbers to determine who should hold the lead role for the Super Bowl, but we have to use our eyes as well.

The Bucs have run with the hot hand all year long, it just so happened Ronald Jones was that hot hand for a majority of the regular season. But, since his bout with COVID-19 while also dealing with a quad injury, we have seen glimpses of his regular-season form, albeit not consistently.

Playoff Lenny, on the other hand, has been nothing short of clutch, attaining big first downs when the Bucs have needed them and making surprisingly good plays to accumulate good chunks of yardage. It is easy to see the confidence in both of these backs, so the Bucs really can’t go wrong with either one.

Although the hot hand method seems faulted, it seems like that’s how the Bucs should make their decision. They should ride with Fournette come Sunday and utilize his power to push the pile.

All stats point towards Rojo, but what we have seen throughout the 2020 playoffs points to Playoff Lenny. The Bucs would be wise to let Fournette do his thing and see what happens.