The Buccaneers need to move Ronald Jones to receiver (obviously not forever)
Ronald Jones is a pair of consistent hands away from being a dominant three-down back in the NFL. His ability to run was on full display in 2020 when he averaged 5.1 yards per carry, but his abilities as a pass-catcher left the Bucs wanting.
Tom Brady threw way too many passes to Jones that bounced off his fingertips, and that can’t happen in an offense that is built around an aging quarterback like Brady. Everything on the offensive side of the ball works better when the running back can catch, and Jones needs to get far more reliable in this area quickly.
A transition from running back to wide receiver during camp may sound a little too much like what another team is doing with their young running back in Jacksonville, but there is a method to the madness. In reality, this would just look like Jones taking more snaps at receiver during camp, and it’s not like he would be missing out on much anyway.
Training camp is more about ramping up to game speed than anything else. This is not the time where coaches want to see players delivering or taking big hits, and running backs could usually walk through the holes during practice without taking a hit.
Jones does not need to spend his time working on hitting gaps, although he shouldn’t neglect this either. There would still be time for Jones to line up behind Brady and build chemistry with the offensive starters, but RoJo’s focus needs to be on catching as many passes as Mike Evans or Chris Godwin on any given day.
Whether it is 100, 200, or 300 targets a day, Jones needs to work on his catching and route running. In seven on seven, line up Jones with the second team. Let him run go routes and posts. Even if it doesn’t seem like a skill that a running back needs, if it involves catching the ball, Jones needs to do it for at least the start of training camp.
A move like this would give the coaching staff enough time to evaluate if Jones can ever be a three-down player, and it would also give the young back a few more chances to prove that he can live up to his monster draft status from a few years back.
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