As many of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for redemption this year, no one needs a bounce back season more than running back Ronald Jones II.
The 2018 season fell short for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on just about all fronts. Starters never seemed to find their stride after the beginning of the season, the play calling was poor, and the draft picks never seemed to come into their own. None of the rookies had a more disappointing season than running back Ronald Jones. The starting spot from the beginning of the year was Jones’ to win, yet at the end of his disappointing rookie campaign he was behind both Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers on the depth chart.
Jones had a very good career at USC totaling 591 rushing attempts for 3,619 yards over a three-year period. His six yards per carry as a college player was a stark contrast from the less than two yards per carry that RoJo had in his rookie season in the NFL. With only one touchdown and poor hands, Ronald Jones never seemed to find his stride as a professional player.
One of the tougher pills to swallow on Jones’ game was his season compared to the seasons of the other running backs taken in the second round. Browns running back Nick Chubb and Lions running back Kerryon Johnson were also taken in the second round, but both outperformed Jones by a healthy margin and ended up as starters on their respective teams. Johnson was able to prove his worth as a pass-catcher while Chubb made every rep count when he was utilized as a backup for the first part of the season.
Jones has a plethora of things that he has to work on to become the number one guy in Tampa. For starters, he has to become more efficient with the touches he is given. Averaging less than two yards per carry average will never fly in the NFL, and starter Peyton Barber averages less than four yards per carry, which should at least be the baseline.
The other important thing that Jones has to improve on is his pass-catching ability. Having a running back that can catch out in the flats opens up an offense greatly, especially for a team that has dealt with offensive line problems. At the very least being able to catch would give Jones more opportunities on 3rd down situations, which help in a competition for a starting spot.