Third Down Back?

May 7th, 2018

Which skillset wins out?

It is early May and Joe can already smell it.

No, it’s not the fruity scent of sweaty Bucs cheerleaders at training camp. It’s how the Bucs may use second round draft pick Ronald Jones.

“Rojo,” as he is called — that’s his Twitter handle as well — is a seriously good running back that has sneaky good hands for catching the ball.

Pass blocking? Joe has read nothing that would suggest he’s skilled at pass blocking. Yet.

In recent history, it seems Bucs coach Dirk Koetter covets pass blocking by his running backs more than anything. It’s a big reason why Doug Martin, despite showing little reason to feed him the rock, got more carries last year than Peyton Barber. Granted, Barber may not be Gayle Sayers, but he was no Martin either. Barber proved he was the best running back on the roster.

How one wants to grade Barber as an NFL running back is another story.

So with Jones not being able to pass block well (yet), and given Koetter’s history with rookie running backs (Devonta Freeman is a good example, a gifted runner who struggled in pass blocking), Joe senses Jones won’t exactly be carrying the load for the Bucs at first.

Analysis by Jenna Laine of ESPN only fuels Joe’s fear.

Jones hasn’t really gotten a chance to use his hands, and he still has a ways to go in pass protection. The Bucs have needed a home-run threat runner — their 16 rushing touchdowns since 2016 are second-fewest in the league. Jones produced 74 explosive runs (rushing plays of 12 or more yards) in 40 games.

Yes, Koetter always talks about the importance of explosive plays. He cites explosive plays as a significant path to wins. And boy, don’t the Bucs and Koetter need wins this year.

It seems Koetter might be between a rock and a hard place. He covets explosive plays and he clearly places extreme importance on pass protection from running backs. What is Koetter to do, side with the potential of explosive plays and play Jones even though he may struggle at pass pro, or lean on pass protection and sit a home run hitter of a running back?

Joe will walk out on a ledge and suggest not having such a one-dimensional offense will help keep heat off America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston. Yes, pass protection is important. Joe’s not trying to suggest otherwise. But just as important if not more so is having a threat in the backfield to consistently move the chains, or break off an explosive play.

72 Responses to “Third Down Back?”

  1. Says:

    The man wasn’t picked in the second round to get 12 snaps per game. Better believe he will be in there in first and second down. and if it is Fitzy handing it off to him, we have a chance at a deep playoff run. Top 10 NFL QB.
    GO BUCS!!!!!

  2. ChanEpic Says:

    Another piece to the puzzle is how well Jameis can shift protection in case he has Rojo (gotta get a better name like: RonJon for Florida’s sake), out there and he needs to change the play. Mr. Winston has a lot on his plate this next year.

  3. Pickgrin Says:

    “What is Koetter to do?”

    Get the kid 20 runs a game and then simply “DO” the same as the rest of us at the appropriate moment – upward fist pumps while shouting –
    “Go ROJO – GO ROJO – GO!!!!”

  4. Tval Says:

    if hes a BIG darren sproles hes worth it…and then some. dont try to pound a square peg into a round hole.. see what you got, then utilize it to its fullest

  5. Tval Says:

    and stop feeding jameis trolls and theyll die of malnutrition, under a tampa area bridge, by the time hes extended midseason…:)

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    Of course….

  7. ChanEpic Says:

    Rojo has to go but if it isn’t
    “RonJon” which is a no-brainer for Florida, how about: “Wreck it Ronnie”?

  8. 813bucboi Says:

    dirks needs to be less predictable!!!!!….we all know if sims is in the game its a pass… does the defense…..

    being less predictable will solve a lot of issues……not abandoning the run would work too!!!!…..

    run the ball….get creative….be less predictable…simple as that!!!!!


  9. DB55 Says:

    I’m sure he’ll do what he did to freeman. It’s unfortunate but I think the game might have passed koetter by in the same manner that it passed Lovie.

    These guys might be too old school for their own good. If you’re not thinking about camouflaging his lack of pass blocking by setting up quick slants to the rob out of the slot then you just haven’t been watching football since 2010.

    Brady has taken his team to the Sb by mostly throwing slants routes. Not many OCs setting up 5-7 step drops anymore but hey koetter still looking for a fullback so there’s that too.

    The real question is what will Monken do? I hear he’s all about scoring points. Should we look forward to the greatest show on tuff?

  10. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    Koetter has two very talented TE’s. That’s seven dudes available for blocking duty. If the 8th…an RB is not the star blocker it shouldn’t matter with the proper play calling and positioning of the guys who CAN block.

  11. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    Whats wrong with Rojo?

  12. AlteredEgo Says:

    The offense has never been this loaded with Talent….never…give me an E…for execution…

  13. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    I believe that title still belongs to Charles Sims.

    “Here is your winner and still the heavyweight third-down back, Charles Sims!”

  14. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    What’s Koetter to do? Here is a novel idea….get him COACHED UP!

  15. passthebuc Says:

    Hope Springs Eternal In The Human Breast

    According to the dictionary, hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

  16. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    What @St.Pete said.

    If Rojo can break off explosive runs and serve as an effective catcher of the football out of the back field but struggles to pass block, then don’t make him pass block.

    Wanna throw the ball with Rojo on the field? Put an Tight end/Hback or Fullback type player in the back field to pass protect, and send Rojo on a route.

    I like Peyton Barber a lot, and the Quizz can be solid in spot duty, but if Jones is the better runner out of the 3 of them, he should be the one being fed the rock.

  17. Dave Pear Says:


    RonJon definitely has a good Florida ring to it.
    Heck, I already have his jersey and hat.

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    All that is left is to see how these guys do in camp.

    I have a very strong feeling that Jason Licht hit on more picks than ever in this draft, but the players have yet to prove it.

  19. AlteredEgo Says:

    For all the Koetter critics..he lives and breathes offensive football….his time has come

  20. ChanEpic Says:

    @Jolly – Rojo is just lazy, IMHO…

    @Dave – I’ll be getting mine ASAP.

  21. Gambelero Says:

    In a situation where he was a freshman playing with two upperclass-men who would both go on to play in the NFL, Freeman started and got 60-70 percent of the plays. That was because he was an all-around back, catching, blocking and one-cut running in Trickett’s zone blocking scheme. He also graduated early from Miami Central, a place where no one graduates early and most not at all. So, he enrolled early and learned and understood Jimbo’s pro-style system.

    I think Koetter just used the blocking as an excuse. He didn’t give Free a chance. Change to Kyle Shanahan and he’s a superstar. Everybody remembers the block he missed in the Super Bowl, but Freeman is a very good blocker for a running back.

  22. BigMacAttack Says:

    Koetter may want to take a class on quick slants. He still hasn’t seemed to be able to figure that one out yet.

  23. BucEmUp Says:

    No reason he can’t have explosive plays on first and second down. Barber will only be better with an upgraded line and he did ok with pass blocking in the second half of the season. Look at Ingram and kamara….it all boils down to good coaching, something I’m starting to fear Koetter can’t handle unless it strictly calling plays.

  24. BigMacAttack Says:

    Pretty good looking roster and so sure hope Derp doesn’t screw this up again.

  25. ChanEpic Says:

    @BigMacAttack – as of 2017, neither has coach Smith.

  26. BigMacAttack Says:


  27. Jjones Says:

    @Chan, where do you see Rojo as lazy? Just curious tbh, no sarcasm intended.

    Only things I could see from Rojo that I feel he can improve on were awareness(needs to whip his head around faster in the flat), blocking and patience. Now I could be wrong but I think most of this can be coached up. He wasn’t my first choice at RB but the one thing I can’t deny is how explosive he is. Out of all the RB’s in this year’s draft he has the best homerun hitter quality for sure.

  28. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    If DK refuses to play him because of a blocking issue only, he will be looking for a new job next off-season. This kid has tons of talent, so to not play him would be crazy.

    DK has proven in the past to not play his rookie RBs so it’ll be interesting to watch this play out.

  29. Blake_Bucsfan Says:


    Explain how RonJon is any less lazily thrown together than RoJo? You literally just slapped on 2 N’s. The kid’s twitter handle is RoJo, he want’s to be called RoJo.

    It’s a better nick name than Douggernaut or Muscle hamster.

  30. tnew Says:

    Rojo had more catches last year than the “all mighty” complete back that is known as Sony Michel. I lost a bet on that the other day. The way everyone was fretting about Rojo and pimping Sony, I was sure that Sony had to have huge numbers in the passing game.

    Koetter, can play the blocking game all he wants, but if he doesn’t run the best back this season, he should be fired. The strategy of sticking with Martin cost the Bucs two games minimally. Lions and Carolina at home. Those games are squarely on his shoulders for sticking with Martin even when Barber had proved to be more effective.

    The way that he handled McNichols was horrible. Third preseason game (after running well in preseason game 2) to yank him after the second play for a missed blitz assignment to put in Russell (I have no chance to make an NFL roster) Hansborough was a really, really poor play solely from a personnel evaluation standpoint. Yes, pull him, coach him, reinsert him should have been the course of action. Instead it was pull him.

  31. DB55 Says:


    We’ll find out on 11/25.

    But I couldn’t agree more, McNichols did the right thing and left imo. Let’s see who was right.

    I think McNichols has break out potential but of course the Tampa brain trust has already labeled him a bust. We shall see!!!

  32. ChanEpic Says:

    To all: Rojo sucks, RonJon and/or anything else doesn’t suck as much. I know HE WANTS to be called Rojo but that was before he came here to Florida and since I am the official, unofficial nickname giver for the Tampa Bay Bucs it is now a mandate that Rojo goes away! STAMP. 🙂

  33. Not there yet Says:

    Pardon me if I don’t take the word analyst seriously before rookie training camp. We don’t know what he knows our how long it will take to learn it. If Barber couldn’t get on the field last year because of pass blocking after two years how much did he improve? Can’t wait to see what these guys can do in preseason

  34. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    You may call him whatever you like, my self and others will stick with RoJo.

  35. Jjones Says:

    McNichols will probably do okay as long as he has time to pick up the playbook anywhere he goes and the organization he’s with has that kind of patience or has the luxury of being that patient.

    He didn’t leave by the way, he was sent packing.

  36. Jjones Says:

    Rojo is much better a nickname than RonJon for sure. I wouldn’t want my nickname to be associated with a poser surf shop for tourists.

  37. Blake_Bucsfan Says:


    No he left, we cut yes but wanted to sign him to the practice squad, and then he ditched Licht at the alter and signed with the 49ers

  38. Jjones Says:

    You’re right, McNichols was offered a spot on the practice squad and declined, my bad.

  39. Nick2 Says:

    If Koetter keeps this guy on the bench for his pass blocking hes not the coach we need.

  40. Steven007 Says:

    If he has a good jump cut we need to call it a RoJo hop. You heard it here first.

  41. Dave Pear Says:

    I wouldn’t want my nickname to be associated with a poser surf shop for tourists.


    RonJons did not start out as a poser surf shop, it was started by 2 local Cocoa Beach surfers in a building just a little bigger than a 7-11.
    They sold new and used surfboards, t-shirts, flip flops, surf wax, incense and a couple of 8 track tape players.
    It has obviously grown into a very commercialized business but they were a couple of “Dudes” who didn’t want to work for somebody else.
    A true American success story.

  42. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Run him between Marpet and Jensen until the other team is able to stop the run but hopefully by then we are throwing it. GO BUCS!

  43. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The team has talent at qb, receivers, TE and now running back.
    If the OL is as good as everyone seems to think, then Koetter has no excuse-
    I want to see 10 or more rushing td’s this year and 1500 yds combined rushing yards gained .
    Defense will be better, which means more offensive opportunities- 25 pts per game! Run the ball, set up play action, keep the other teams guessing.
    Jameis is not Brady or Rodgers – he needs an effective running game!

  44. John5 Says:

    The panthers just signed CJ Anderson to a one year deal. I can only wait for Joe’s response to this lol.

  45. Jjones Says:

    @Dave, I know the story of Ronjons, I’m from the area but, NOW it’s anything but a true surf shop, they peddle to the tourists and everyone in Melbourne and Cocoa that I used to surf with knows it.

  46. Dave Pear Says:


    Gotcha. Born and raised in Indialantic. I get that they sold out, but it does have a World Wide name recognition and it rolls of the tongue as easily as RoJo.
    Just saying.

  47. Jjones Says:

    I get it Dave.

  48. Guzziep Says:

    Rojo is a family nickname, cause his dad has the same name his family calls him Rojo, read that in an article somewhere, he’s always been Rojo not some made up nickname for Bucs fans to change or even comment about, his momma calls him Rojo it’s not changing lol

  49. Dave Pear Says:


    So, did Doug Martin Mother call him the Muscle Hamster?
    You don’t get to pick you’re own nickname.

  50. BucTrooper Says:

    I’m getting really sick of this “alternate talent” BS the Bucs have even layoffs on us lately. OJ Howard doesn’t have rexeptions but he can BLOCK. Martin can’t run but he can BLOCK. Nick Folk wasn’t a good kicker but HANG TIME ON KICK OFFS!

  51. Waterboy Says:

    Ro-Jo the Texas Tesla are the names I’ve seen floating around for him. Makes me think of Flo-Jo the old track star.

  52. ScottyinFatAntonio Says:

    How about the nickname…..Muscle Gerbil?

  53. BucHead5588 Says:

    Man I really hope we can get our run game going this year if we can get barber an RoJo going our offense will start clicking An be pretty darn good boys that’s what we have been missing during the end of the year when barber was running the ball you could see how much better Jameis looked much more comfortable all around better execution I can’t wait GoBUCS Go ROJO Go Peyton

  54. unbelievable Says:

    RonJon is worse than RoJo in my opinion. Plus he’s already been called that for a while, he didn’t just pick it himself out to of the blue.

    @DB – agree about Koetter’s old school playbook. Guess we’re hoping Monken has some real influence this year. No more 7 stop drops please.

  55. Stanglassman Says:

    RoJo pass pro as described by scouts and analyst. He is aware in pass pro, but still gets caught on his heels at times. Willing blocker but needs refinement.

    Tryout Rb Jordan Huff from Northern Illinois 5-10, 220. As Mike Mayock would say he is “quicker than fast”. Kid is a tight package that has some shake and bake. He had an ankle injury and missed the last 3 games of the season, but still managed 798 yds and 5.8ypc. Maybe he’s got a chance to be KR/PR.


  56. Blake_Bucsfan Says:


    Uh, O.J. was about the most explosive weapon we had in 2017. Yes he only had 26 receptions, but he was only targeted 39 times, and for the most part it was obvious that Koetter (for some reasion) was reticent to use him as a full time receiving weapon down field. Despite averaging 16.6 yards per catch and scoring 6 touchdowns on those mere 26 catches.

    That literally equates to a touchdown every 4.3 catches. Which is bonkers. Who actually does that?

    If Koetter doesn’t prioritize using O.J. as a weapon downfield more in 2018, I won’t be surprised, but it will be a grave mistake.

  57. Joeypoppems Says:

    Peyton Barber cant pass block either. Hell the only RB on the roster decent at it is Jacquizz Rodgers.

    RoJo is easily the most talented runner on the team now so he should get the most carries. It should be that simple, but it wont be.

  58. Destinjohnny Says:

    At his size how is he not an3rd down back?

  59. Dave Says:

    Platoon with barber

    A new wd40

  60. Trench War Says:

    With all the other weapons to divvy up throws too I don’t think it’s really important for us to use a RB to throw to on 3rd down. Use your best pass blocking RB on 3rd and long to block and then throw to one of your other great targets. Problem solved. I would imagine that C.Sims and JRodgers would work just fine. Give 1st and 2nd down duties to RoJo. Make Barber, RoJo’s back-up and the featured goal line back. This keeps everyone involved and fresh. Now, if RoJo shows in camp he can be a 3 down back then all bets are off.

  61. Lamarcus Says:

    I just don’t want him to be a bust. A garbage player. That’s all. Just want him to be good.

  62. Ndog Says: Says:
    May 7th, 2018 at 2:38 pm
    The man wasn’t picked in the second round to get 12 snaps per game. Better believe he will be in there in first and second down. and if it is Fitzy handing it off to him, we have a chance at a deep playoff run. Top 10 NFL QB.
    GO BUCS!!!!!

    You ok bro I just want to make sure cause your comments sound like your crazy or confused about what team this article is talking about. You know that we have the best QB that has ever been on our roster don’t you? And I not talking about a guy who has been on 10 different teams.

  63. Elita Vita Says:

    Peyton Barber will be the starting running back, at least for a while. RoJo should not be gifted that position. Let him develop the right attitude and earn that position.

  64. Jjones Says:

    If you regulate 2 backs to specific assignments such as pass blocking you’re going to(at some point)show your hand and limit what your dynamic and most explosive RB on the roster is best at, that shouldn’t happen, ever. Now, I say that but, it doesn’t mean Dirka Dirka won’t do it. If he does pull something that boneheaded only thing that will save him is dumb luck for which some will call genius but we all(most of us)know different.

  65. BucTrooper Says:

    Dear Blake,

    I really don’t care about excuses. “Explosive weapons” aren’t targeted only 39 times in the NFL. The fact that you had to type a paragraph explaining why he’s an explosive weapon tells me he wasn’t an explosive weapon.

  66. Stanglassman Says:

    Look up any rookie TE and compare their stats to O.J. Howard’s. It’s not hard to do you don’t even need to consider the fact that the Bucs had to spread out the targets more than almost any other player you look up.

    Greg Olsen. 39 catches 394 yards 2 tds

    O.J. Howard. 26 catches 432 yards 6 tds (14 games)

    Not a bad start.

  67. Blake_Bucsfan Says:

    “I don’t need to know the facts because the truth is whatever I want it to be.”

    That’s what you sound like @BucPooper

  68. ChanEpic Says:

    So RoJo sticks, I wasn’t aware that it was a familial nickname, makes way more sense now. Mandate lifted, STAMP.

  69. delson Says:

    Watch rashaad penny block then watch ronald jones block. Ronald jones is not the best but far from the worst. Should be a non issue for him. My only fear is his durability. We got us a winner in rojo the type of back that i wish we had for the past 2 seasons. I thought sims would pan out but damn he juked in the backfield and into awaiting arms too often.

  70. Bculaw Says:

    Mix in some quick hitters in the passing game and the RB’s pass protection becomes less of an issue. It would make our O-line look better, too.

  71. unbelievable Says:

    lol Blake, spot on.

    Got em!

  72. Buccfan37 Says:

    RoJo is the perfect nickname, better yet that it rhymes with go.