Music To Dirk Koetter’s Ears

April 15th, 2018

Ronald Jones and blocking.

Now Joe may be blowing this only slightly out of proportion but there is evidence to suggest Joe isn’t exaggerating all that much.

It seems, at times, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter values a running back’s ability to block more than his ability to run. One reason Koetter stuck with declining Bucs running back Doug Martin for far too long over a better running back like Peyton Barber was that Barber struggled in pass protection.

Flash back four years ago to August of 2014 during “Hard Knocks.” Koetter was offensive coordinator with the Dixie Chicks and was not happy at all with Devonta Freeman’s inability to pass protect. It wasn’t that Koetter was wrong but is it a coincidence that Freeman was a part-time player as a rookie and has blown up to become one of the better running backs in the NFL after Koetter left Atlanta?

It is with this in mind that Joe turns his attention to USC running back Ronald Jones. Now clearly, if a guy is one of the better running backs in college football like Jones, he’s unlikely to pass block that often. Instead, teams are going to feed the guy the rock. Why take your best player out of the game by asking him to block instead of run?

So back at the NFL combine in Indianapolis this winter, Jones was asked about pass protection and what he said had to have caught Koetter’s ear.

“I didn’t do too much of [blocking] but I’m very comfortable doing it,” Jones said. “I know how important it is at the next level to protect the money man next to me, the quarterback, so I look forward to getting better at that, as well.”

Now Joe is not trying to diminish the ability for a running back to keep heat off of his quarterback in any way. It’s a key skill. But Joe is also of the mind that you shouldn’t ding a guy who is a skilled runner (especially when you need a running back terribly) for being behind the eight ball in a skillset he was rarely asked to do.

You draft a running back first and foremost to, you know, run the ball. If he can block, that’s gravy. If he cannot block, coach him up. Or find an assistant who can coach him up.

In the meantime, enjoy some highlights of Jones tearing up the PAC-12.

38 Responses to “Music To Dirk Koetter’s Ears”

  1. Jason Says:

    Screw what Koetter wants if he he doesn’t improve this season he will be gone. No more excuses in 2018!

  2. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Half of his run were the result of terrible tackling.

  3. I’m a Tandyman Bucs Fan Says:

    I’m with you Jason!! Koetter better getter better at making better decisions or his ass will be looking for a new job. Smith is going to get him fired this year if he doesn’t put the right people on the field. They both screwed up last year!!! We shall see if they stay or go after this one. I do hope the Bucs win and they stay on board but I’m not really sold on either!!!

  4. Bucs Guy Says:

    He’s not that good of a RB. Look at what he did in USC’s biggest games (OSU, ND, TX). Never got 70 yards. Only 14 catches in 13 games also.

    Didn’t run well in big games, little pass catching ability out of the backfield and doesn’t block. Stay away from him.

  5. ShutTheBucUp Says:

    Right on money Jason.

  6. ShutTheBucUp Says:

    *the money

  7. JimmyJack Says:

    My hope for the draft is that Barkley drops to us. Just give us a decision at RB we can’t screw up.

  8. Phillip Says:

    Jamaal Charles 2.0.. Most explosive RB in NCAA the past 2 seasons imo. Solid pick if we can trade back in the 1st towards the 20’s or hope he is there early 2nd

    Absolute home run threat every time he touches the rock

    Only downside is he is a bit on the slender side but Barber would be a good compliment to him

  9. Topdoggie Says:

    Here’s my hope. Barber now knows how to pass block. He is going to take the league by storm and we will feel silly thinking we had to have one at the top of the draft

  10. TampaDave Says:

    He is definitely explosive! I wonder if the Bucs staff will see him as a scheme fit though. Joe wrote an article about how Ryan Jensen was excited about the “Power Blocking Scheme” planned for this year. Typically that means that the front side of the O Line is blocking inside and a FB, Guard or Both are pulling to lead the ball carrier through the hole (a specific gap). The vast majority of the plays on the above highlight are either Inside Zone or Outside Zone. In Zone schemes, the whole O Line drive blocks to the front side, no pulling or lead blockers. I don’t know enough to say that R. Jones can’t be successful in a Power (Gap) scheme, but that may be a reason for the Bucs to devalue him.
    I would love to see more big plays like these from the Buccaneer Offense next year. You don’t have to worry about Red Zone scoring when you you take it in from midfield…

  11. Bobby M. Says:

    That guy has real potential….A lot of these highlight reels are usually just big gashing holes against lesser talent, fun to watch but not a great measure for production at the next level. His weren’t that, he makes things happen up the middle through traffic…That’s the stuff that translates to the NFL.

  12. teacherman777 Says:


    Weak legs. Runs upright. Weak competition. Spoiled USC player.


  13. Pickgrin Says:

    Determining who CAN be “coached up” to become a good pass protector among the top RBs is an important part of the evaluation process that is often not considered. As noted – you don’t see a whole lot of it on tape so “projection” and getting a feel towards the players mindset about (and willingness to work hard towards) becoming a good blocker within the interviewing process is definitely an important part of figuring out which RB(s) you want to try and target in the draft.

  14. BucEmUp Says:

    I would prefer a bigger back, but the guy has impressive vision and ability to manipulate the defender. Maybe he and Barber would work well togwther

  15. Destinjohnny Says:

    Here is jones runs against bama

  16. SB Says:

    I have seen Jones mocked to us more than any other RB.
    Mocks mean ish mostly tho.

  17. SB Says:

    @DestinJohnny……Not very good look there. Can’t believe that was every run was it?

  18. rrsrq Says:

    All I got to say is do not muck it up Bucs, so many players in this draft with talent, but so dependable on what happens in the top 6 picks and if you got a willing trade partner to trade down and still believe you can get a trop player on your board if you move down. I do not think you can go wrong with any of the top three guards (Nelson, Hernandez, Wynn), nor any of the RB’s thats from Barkley all the way to Walton (there is a lot in between), CB/S (Ward, Fitzpatrick, James, Jackson, Oliver, Hughs, Reid, Hughes).

  19. kenny Says:

    draft rashaad penny

  20. kenny Says:

    a sleeper back maybe i the 4th round josh adams from norte dame, big back with speed

  21. AlteredEgo Says:

    Love ya Joes….but chop sticks in my eyes….and I might be off shore in the Florida straights on draft night…

  22. BucFamous Says:

    No thanks.

    If a RB does not have proven blocking skills–I’d rather pass. Part of the Bucs major issue is predictability on offense, and if you pick up a RB who can’t pass block then you are signaling run every time he’s in, and pass more often than not when he’s out.

    And the idea of “well, they can just coach him up,” is naive.

  23. Architek Says:

    You nailed it, Bucs have yet to draft and develop a solid runner. Let alone prove they can assess and evaluate a solid RB.

    So make no mistake I don’t pay my RB to block first, let’s start with the basics responsibility of running and making the offense balanced.

    Don’t miss the forests for the trees and pass on a game changer because he’s not a willing blocker yet. How many RBs come into the league ready to block play in and out?

  24. AlteredEgo Says:

    Develop….LOL…you either can EXCELL in the NFL…or you are a rich has been back to your hometown…coaches develop in HS….they coach offensive and defensive weapons in college and the NFL…either you can or you can’t…don’t come around here for developing….next man up !

  25. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Keep in mind, Joe, that Jones isn’t an every down back at 205 lbs.

    Sony Michel, John Kelly, or Walton are better every down options!

  26. cmurda Says:

    I can’t help but think that CJ Anderson should be on our radar. We could get him for a cheeseburger right now or we can see if he is cut from the Broncos. Every year there are multiple RB’s that do well in the NFL. Unless Barkley somehow falls to us, we could get CJ and address our serious needs in the secondary.

  27. cmurda Says:

    *multiple RB’s in the draft.

  28. Charles Says:

    I feel like this is the second time you’ve ran this story or something very similar.

  29. Thespiritof1976 Says:

    Barber ought to be the RB.

    Draft for defense this year.

    Draft out of 7 and get additional picks.

    Get Mike Hughes and Shaq Griffin. Bring some winners to the team.

    Besides, Royce Freeman and Rashad Penny will still be there in the 4th if they have to draft a precious running back.

  30. ZK Says:

    John kelly UT

  31. BetterBuccinBelieveIt Says:

    Or…draft someone who can run the ball way better than him, and pass block also way better than him. Simple solutions.

    Saquon Barkley!

    Go Bucs! Go Bold! Go Barkley! Go Primetime!

  32. Joe Says:

    I can’t help but think that CJ Anderson should be on our radar.

    Thank you!!!

    For the offensive-line-is-a-trainwreck-how-can-a-running-back-do-anything crowd, C.J. Anderson got 1,000 yards rushing last year behind the worst offensive line in the NFL.

    Yes, good RBs make a difference.

  33. Blake_Bucsfan Says:


    Ever consider that Denver’s Oline might be better at run blocking than they are at Pass Protection?

    There are definitely holes for him to run through.

  34. ABCDGreg Says:

    It seems like we used a lot more 6th OL and fullback blocking the year Martin and Simms combined for great seasons. I get that we’ve tried and failed on finding a FB, but wound our running game an PA game been better if we used that extra OL a bit more?

  35. cmurda Says:

    Joe Says:

    I can’t help but think that CJ Anderson should be on our radar.

    Thank you!!!

    For the offensive-line-is-a-trainwreck-how-can-a-running-back-do-anything crowd, C.J. Anderson got 1,000 yards rushing last year behind the worst offensive line in the NFL.

    Yes, good RBs make a difference.

    I was literally about to add his stats on last year’s terrible Broncos offense but you already did.

    Add to those facts that CJ is going in knowing he could be cut at any moment and according to him, he’s even more motivated. Get this guy and we can worry about our future stud RB in the future. Most GM’s will wait out CJ’s release but we could swoop in and trade for him with a late round pick. Licht is great at the draft but a 6th or 7th rd pick is a crapshoot for the best of them.

  36. Bucco bruce Says:

    This guy has that it Factor he pops off the screen he will be a star the next Alvin Kamara!!!!! Hellman Berkeley or 1A and 1B.

  37. Greecosuave Says:

    MAN, If we don’t draft SB or a SEC RB, we might as well kiss our season done, again. Licht won’t learn. He will “F” this up!

  38. NJBucsFan Says:

    Pass….he’s too slight. Put on a lot of water weight to get up to above 200lb for the combine weigh-in….then as typical had a soft tissue injury when attempting to run the 40 because his body is not used moving that much weight. He runs into the back of his linemen entirely too much which means his vision is horrible.