After Ronald Jones’ fumble against the Dallas Cowboys, there was some question as to how much the running back would be involved in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense moving forward. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians squashed any perceived doubts in Jones by publicly naming him the starting running back against the Falcons in Week 2.
“Yeah, they’re all different, and RoJo was ready,” Arians said of the running back mistakes in Week 1, per Buccaneers.com. “We started throwing the ball a bunch more. He’s starting this week and he’s ready to roll.”
It is unclear if this is an official benching of Leonard Fournette, or if the Buccaneers plan to rotate starting running backs on a weekly basis. Neither player looked particularly impressive in the team’s two-point win over the Cowboys. Jones had just four carries for 14 yards along with a fumble.
Fournette had nine rushes for 32 yards averaging a dismal 3.6 yards per carry. The Bucs running back also had five receptions (on seven targets) for 27 yards against Dallas.
Leftwich on Jones: ‘We’ll Continue Getting ‘Ro’ the Ball & Letting ‘Ro’ be ‘Ro”
Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich also expressed confidence in Jones’ role moving forward. Leftwich emphasized that the team will “continue getting ‘Ro’ the ball” in the coming weeks.
“I’m not worried about ‘Ro’ at all,” Leftwich noted, per Buccaneers.com. “We’ll continue getting ‘Ro’ the ball and letting ‘Ro’ be ‘Ro.’ ‘Ro’ is real special running the ball and unique. We understand that we understand the talent that he has. It’s never perfect in football. The game doesn’t go that way. Football doesn’t allow it to be perfect.
“Football also helps in life lessons. It gets tough sometimes and sometimes it’s better for you, but throughout a 17-game season that’s just how it goes. And I think professional athletes know how to handle that. We’ll move on and learn from the mistakes we made, but we have to be focused on doing everything we can to win the next ball game. We have a team that always plays us tough. Every time we played them it’s a tough out, so we have to do everything possible to get ready to play this game.”
Jones Played in Just 9% of the Snaps in Week 1
Fournette received the majority of snaps for the Bucs at running back in Week 1 at 65%. Giovani Bernard was next in line at 26% as the Bucs added the veteran back this offseason to play the James White role for Tom Brady in Tampa. Bernard is more likely to be utilized in passing down situations and does not appear to be competing for the starting gig.
Jones played just 9% of the snaps against the Cowboys, and it will be interesting to see if the rusher starting will mean he remains the lead back throughout the Week 2 matchup against the Falcons. Despite Jones getting the nod over Fournette, Leftwich is seeing a lot of growth from “Playoff Lenny.”
“I believe we’re watching Lenny become a pro,” Leftwich explained. “I really believe that. As professional athletes, it doesn’t always go well. It’s not the first time that it’s not going well for an individual throughout a game. That happens week in and week out.
“The professional guys know how to move pass it, get themselves in positions so when the next play presents itself, this group tends to make it. I’m more excited for the guys that people may think they didn’t play well just because I know what it does to them. I know how they’ll react to that and I just try to think to give them more opportunities to play well and play at a high level.”