The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2015 when Doug Martin ran for 1,402 of them for a six-win Lovie Smith led squad. Jameis Winston was a rookie, and Ronald Jones II was a freshman.
Interestingly enough, Jones ran for 987-yards in 2015. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons following, before heading to the NFL in the 2018 draft.
Now, Jones has a chance at getting his first 1,000-yard rushing season as a professional ball carrier, but COVID-19 stood between his opportunity to get there against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15.
Since he didn’t come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week just about everyone has been preparing for this game with the assumption being Rojo wouldn’t be available when the team travels to Detroit for their Week 16 game as well.
An assumption confirmed on Thursday, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com.
Bruce Arians says RB Ronald Jones can't get through the COVID protocol in time and will not play in Saturday's game.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) December 24, 2020
After finishing the Bucs’ win against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15 with 80-yards on eighteen carries, Jones has been forced to stand pat at 900-yards for two weeks now.
Following a bad rookie season which saw Jones get on the field very little collecting just 23 rushing attempts in 2018, Jones joined Peyton Barber in the Buccaneers backfield taking 172 carries, collecting 724-yards rushing.
With just eight more rushing attempts this season he’s already run for 176-yards more than his 2019 total but has his sights set on the elusive thousand-yard mark which has been even more difficult to reach in 2020 due to Tampa Bay’s sometimes over-commitment to the pass.
While his rushing contributions have increased, his receiving impact has decreased. Jones currently sits three receptions shy of his 2019 mark and is 144-yards shy of the 309-yards receiving he produced last season.
In a season where nothing seems to come easy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jones will now get one crack at being the first thousand-yard rusher for his franchise in five seasons. Of course, a bigger goal awaits them in Detroit as the franchise’s first playoff appearance since Jones was nine-years-old is within reach, with a win over the Lions this Saturday.