“I Was Still Taking The College Mindset”

May 29th, 2019

Enjoy Ira Kaufman’s Wednesday column, of course, presented by Ed Morse Cadillac Tampa and Ed Morse Cadillac Brandon.


Beware of the list. Steer clear of the list.

Ronald Jones finds himself in the danger zone. He’s on the list at the moment, but only in pencil. By the end of the 2019 season, we’ll know whether to take out an eraser and remove his name.

Bucs fans know the list. They look at it with dread. It’s the roll call of failed second-round draft picks since 2010, encompassing two general managers and four head coaches.

Here goes: Roberto Aguayo, Noah Spence, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Da’Quan Bowers, Brian Price and Arrelious Benn. Huge expectations for all coming out of college. Huge disappointments for all as a pro.

It’s a new Ronald Jones in 2019

Spence still has a chance to escape. The Todd Bowles scheme figures to be a better fit for Spence’s skill set, but after three NFL seasons, this is his last shot in Tampa.

It’s hard to imagine a more dispiriting rookie season than the one Ronald Jones just experienced. Coming out of Southern Cal, he was supposed to provide explosive plays in the run game while working to improve his hands.

It never happened.

Peyton Barber kept lunging forward for 4-yard gains, but the long runs from the complementary back never came. Instead, Jones averaged a miniscule 1.9 yards per carry. He was hit in the backfield so often, the sticks kept moving backwards at an alarming rate.

Enter Bruce Arians, who studied tape of the 2018 Bucs and kept wondering why Jones was so ineffective. Hardly a week goes by without Arians talking up No. 27 and his potential impact in Year 2.

“I’m very blessed and honored to be in this position, really pumped,” Jones told me after practice yesterday. “I’ve got a new playbook and I’ve got to throw last season out the window. It wasn’t what I wanted, it wasn’t what the team wanted or anybody wanted.”

“I’m ready get the pads on. You get a clean slate around here. It was never a question of talent, it was about putting it all together and playing to the speed of the NFL. I was still taking the college mindset — you can’t do that at this level.”

Jones is only 21 and few can blame him if last season aged him a few years. He didn’t get a carry until Week 4 in Chicago and his final carry came in the 12th game.

In between, his lack of productivity stunned Buc Nation while Jason Licht squirmed from the executive suite. Jones never managed to earn the trust of Dirk Koetter, even while Tampa Bay’s ground game plodded along and a once-promising season unraveled.

Counselor Jameis

Make no mistake, Barber will still get the bulk of the carries this fall. Arians loves Barber’s tenacity and physical approach, but there’s plenty of room for Jones to make an important contribution.

“You’ve got to react, you can’t think,” Jones says of his learning curve. “Jameis (Winston) was telling me all year that struggles are part of being a pro player. I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty rough.

“I was looking for an opportunity, waiting for it and not getting it. This year is more in my hands now. In practice, I get some reps and they see flashes, but I want to bring it to the home crowd and Buc fans.”

Jones said he’s been working on improving his pass-catching skills in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the offseason. He finished his three-year college career with only 32 receptions but averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 42 touchdowns for the Trojans.

Jones was humbled last season, but he wasn’t defeated. A new coaching staff has him juiced while teammates like Winston and Lavonte David have noticed the difference.

“Ronald Jones doesn’t look like the same player,” David said. “I expect big things from him.”

The Sage, Ira Kaufman, talking to Bucs running back Ronald Jones yesterday

23 Responses to ““I Was Still Taking The College Mindset””

  1. jmarkbuc Says:

    always liked Arrelious Benn…injuriesare what did hm in right?

  2. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Nothing Jones could do about getting hit in the backfield on most of his carries

    Fix the o line and this offense will finally have balance

  3. TJ Says:

    Ira Kaufman talking to Ira Kaufman? Subtext on photo

  4. Bingo Says:

    Won’t really know till mid-season if ROJO is worth talking about as a “turnaround” in general. Plus Barber will mute alot of it with his target share as starter.

    Incidentally, with June 1st rolling around soon on Saturday, have you all happened to take a look at Over The Cap to see how our options in player/cap flexibility is pretty friggin’ sweet for TRADES??! Man, we have so many players we could trade away for NO dead money cap hits whatsoever.

    Hope buffoon Licht has at least Brate lined up going elsewhere, and hopefully OTHERS too. Bills and Pats need starting TE’s each with suspensions and injuries there, plus Licht better unload others come Sunday or later. Save your paycheck Licht-weight!

  5. Ghingus Kwon Says:

    Chester Jackson, Sabby the Goat, Johnthan Banks, Aaron Sears

  6. JimmyJack Says:

    Loyal don’t rule out the possibility of our OL getting fixed with the players we got. Especially looking at our 3 Big dollar guys. D.Smith, Marpet & Jensen. These guys got potential and have shown flashes of it.

    There is talent on the OL. They just leave a lot to be desired.

  7. The Fighting Schiano's Says:

    I think you mean “Dexter Jackson”…

  8. gp Says:

    Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:
    May 29th, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Nothing Jones could do about getting hit in the backfield on most of his carries

    Fix the o line and this offense will finally have balance

    You post something I can agree with!

  9. Todd Says:

    RoJo, “This year is more in my hands now.”

    From your mouth to God’s football stats. I just pray the end of the sermon isn’t, “This year was more NOT in my hands now.”

    Catching football speaking.

  10. DooshLaRue Says:

    Last year must have taken a toll….. cause that’s a mighty gray beard for a 21 year old to be sporting!

  11. Cobraboy Says:

    What a massive boost for this offense and Winston if Jones potential is reached…

  12. Race to 10 Says:

    Eraser not on your life for a second round running lol that is crazy talk IRA. Cut never traded maybe but someone else would have to be coming in. So weird people act like what someone did as a rookie under a crappy coach is players ceiling

  13. Doctor_berto Says:

    Not optimistic about ROJO but really hope I’m wrong. Dude just doesn’t have NFL strength to break enough tackles.

  14. Crack3rK Says:

    Dang, Ira needs to lay off the Reisling and eat more Beet Salads!

  15. Destinjohnny Says:

    Jason Jason Jason……
    How do u keep your job bro….

  16. Erik Hesson - Fine Artist - City of St Pete (formerly known as 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs Fans') ***Rhealist, louden annoying, & tminimum are the worst posters ever!!! Says:

    Ronald Jones will be Jamaal Charles 2.0.

    Mark it down

  17. Rob Tanner Says:

    “DooshLaRue Says:
    May 29th, 2019 at 2:12 pm
    Last year must have taken a toll….. cause that’s a mighty gray beard for a 21 year old to be sporting!”
    Those aren’t greys, that’s rocket exhaust ash from flying so fast on the field.

  18. Larry Says:

    I wish they would bring Roberto Aguayo back in for a tryout. I read that he seems to have gotten his confidence back and actually performed well for San Diego before he was cut last pre season. I saw how Chris Baker got on his case in Hard Knocks which didn’t help him. Be nice to salvage that 2nd round pick.

  19. BucsBall80 Says:

    When Rojo to step up. You can tell when a player is nervous. He needs starter reps. He will be a decent back up this year to Barber.

  20. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I grew up around the age of 50. Thanks heavens I made it to 71 to enjoy a couple decades of maturity.

    People grow up and mature at different rates. JW has been slow to mature…think this is the year for him he seems poised now.

    We have a BUNCH of candidates who could turn it around big time. Not slamming JW but he can play a LOT better and IMO he will this year.

    I would make the same statement about Spence and I have high expectations or hopes for him.

    VHG could finally figure out the NFL this year.

    Our OL has some guys like Cappa and Lietdke who could also blow up this year.

    And there is the star of this article….ROJO could really make a difference if he can figure a way to use his speed…catching swing passes…catching the ball period would really help.

  21. SenileSenior Says:

    In addition to working on his passing game RoJo has worked on toughening his calf and thigh muscles so that he can bounce off his first hit and keep going.

    Let’s also see if his playing weight his any higher than 208 pounds this year.

    He made a big mistake in coming out EARLY for the draft last year. He underestimated the leap. He probably should have stayed in college for one more year.

    Lindy’s Sports, Pro Football Draft (2018) said this. “Weaknesses: Tall and lean-muscled, lacking an ideal build for the position. Lacks move-the-pile power. … NFL Comparison: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs —With the body types, explosive runs, … the Charles comparisons are unavoidable.” They graded him 8.2 (out of 9.0), Pro Bowl Caliber, anyway.

    The Bucs (Licht and Koetter) made a mistake too. They should have had a plan for “redshirting” him but it appears they did not. The practical result is almost the same but it would have gone better if they had an actual plan for his development.

    I think BA and staff will “fix” that mistake. I look for a bright future for Ronald Jones II after all.
    Go Bucs!!!

    P.S. Just maybe, our running game will be a surprise to many people this year. Every action by BA says he is satisfied with the Bucs’ pool of RBs. Very low key.

  22. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I never gave up on Rojo. I knew he would step up with an inner drive to succeed, and I knew that Monken did not us him enough.

    That said…Rojo might just impress if Barber goes down. Barber is maybe a 1K runner at best. We need a 1.4K runner. Maybe Rojo will become that.

  23. adam from ny Says:

    yeah why does he have so much grey chin whiskers for a 21 year old…not a good sign right there