The Buccaneers can’t count on Ronald Jones with the pass being so important.
Throwing the ball is king in the NFL. There is a reason why the MVP award has also become known as the “best quarterback in football award.” Good quarterbacks and the ability to push the ball down the field with the pass is why the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, and the best teams in the NFL show this with ease.
Teams that invest in their quarterback and passing game (Bills, Chiefs, Chargers, Bengals, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Rams, Cardinals, and Packers) sit atop their divisions, while teams that have money invested in their run games and neglect the quarterback position (Giants, Bears, Panthers, Steelers, and Browns) sit in lower standings.
The only teams in the league that break this trend are the Titans and the Colts, and even those teams have picks and money invested in their starting quarterbacks as of recent.
A good quarterback always brings the most value in the NFL, and building the offense to supplement this quarterback is critical. This is the reason why Leonard Fournette is the starting running back for the Buccaneers when healthy.
Fournette isn’t the flashiest back, but he has great hands, can block, and his abilities as a runner are more than acceptable. Every play when Fournette is on the field can be a pass or a rush depending on the scenario, and this versatility is the reason why Ronald Jones isn’t cutting it in Tampa.
Jones is a great runner, arguably better than Fournette, but he can’t block or catch with any consistency. The lack of success on these fronts puts the Bucs at a disadvantage when Jones is on the field on passing downs, something that should happen more often than rushing downs.
For this reason, Jones was never going to work out long-term in this system. These last two games may seem like the perfect time to bring in a running back that can up the yards per carry on the season, but this isn’t how the modern NFL works.
With the threat of the pass minimized with Jones on the field and with most of the starting receivers out, the Bucs had one of their weakest games of the season from a rushing efficiency standpoint with Jones on the field. The volume was there in total yards and in rushing attempts, but this alone is not the proper way to judge the run game.
The Buccaneers may not have many choices going forward with Fournette out and Ke’Shawn Vaughn struggling with similar issues as Jones, but this is something the staff will need to account for down the stretch.
The pass is king in Tampa. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t been paying attention for the past two seasons, and the Buccaneers need to do everything in their power to make sure the pass stays as potent as possible with the proper pieces on the field.
Who knows, perhaps it is Vaughn’s time in Tampa. The young back just needs to learn to catch the ball, but his blocking skills are still undeniably better than Jones’, which could work in his favor next week.
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