What will the Buccaneers do with Ronald Jones?
Ronald Jones is currently the best runner on the Buccaneers by a healthy margin. There is no equal for Jones amongst Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn between the tackles or around the outside, but there are still some key questions surrounding Tampa’s RB1(?).
We followed RB1 with a question mark because Jones was clearly the better back throughout the Summer; however, Fournette actually took the first reps last night. Perhaps the coaching staff saw a matchup they liked, but even that didn’t make a ton of sense based on the struggles by the unit throughout the night.
The Bucs could hardly move the ball on the ground against the anemic Cowboy run defense. This was due to the offensive line as much as it was on the running backs, but that part of the offense was primarily non-existent last night.
Tampa switched between Jones and Fournette several times before Bruce Arians pulled RoJo from the game after a fumble. The days of benching backs after one mistake are back, even though it is odd that Fournette wasn’t benched after botching a catch and turning it into an interception.
Regardless, Jones getting benched after mistakes has been a common thread over the past few seasons. Dropped passes, missed blocks, and specifically, fumbles have hurt Jones’ opportunities to remain in Tampa despite great running ability.
A fumble isn’t the end of the world, nor is six throughout two and a half seasons, but it is a cause for concern. Mixing the turnovers with the lack of success in the passing game makes Jones’ future in Tampa even murkier.
Jones still has plenty of time to redeem himself over the course of a long season, but this is not an excellent start for a player that seems to be on Bruce Arians’ bad side a bit too often.
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