Bust was a word used quite often when describing Ronald Jones last season. After being selected in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft to help improve the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ running attack, Jones did little to nothing during his rookie campaign.
It was clear from the social media presence he does have during the off-season though, that Jones wasn’t going out like that. Entering camp, it became more and more clear the former USC Trojans standout was coming back for his sophomore season with a purpose.
After averaging 2.6 yards per carry on 23 chances in 2018, Jones is averaging 4.6 this year with 59 carries, already more than doubling his opportunities from last season.
More than 20% of his carries have resulted in first downs for the Buccaneers, impressive considering how run-heavy the team’s offense has been on first downs alone. And he’s got two runs of 20-yards or more so far this season.
Still, the team sits at 2-3 coming off of another loss following an impressive win the week prior.
Now, something that has been almost as frustrating as the lack of consistency week-to-week from this year’s Bucs squad, has been the usage of running backs. Especially so if you’re invested in this backfield in fantasy football.
But, if there’s a trend developing, it’s Jones’ involvement as a double digit touch guy. Jones has at least 13 carries in three of the team’s four games this season, and we can argue the team should have one all three after dropping games to the 49ers and Giants despite Jones’ contributions.
In the team’s Week 2 win over the Panthers, Jones got four touches for nine yards as Peyton Barber carried the load for the team in a highly defensive battle ending with a 20-14 victory for the good guys.
In New Orleans, Jones had just nine carries but turned them into 35 yards with a 3.9 yards per carry average. Falling behind forced Tampa Bay into a lot of passing situations, and needing too many big plays, the running back eventually got phased out of the game plan.
If there was a positive for Jones in Week 5, it was his two catches, the most he’s had this season. Not a big number, but a sign of more to come potentially as the home run threat finds new ways to get involved with the offense.
Screen passes and chip blocks as a leaking target could be big ways for Jones to impact Tampa Bay’s Week 6 match-up in London against the Panthers who will be looking to get pass rushers like Brian Burns and Mario Addison into the Bucs’ backfield.
Getting Jones involved seems to point to better offensive output across the board for the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there’s almost no way this second match-up of the season between division rivals will become a defense struggle again.
The Bucs need to put up points, and it’s about time Jones gets a tick mark in that 40+ yard run block.