Ronald Jones Vs. Late-Bloomer RBs

July 16th, 2019

Is RoJo the next C.J. Anderson?


Calling Ronald Jones’ rookie season a disappointment would be the understatement of the year.

But how did it stack up against Pro Bowl running backs who did not tear up the league during their rookie campaigns?

Jones, the young gun from USC with more burst than any back the Bucs have seen in a long while, was supposed to revive this abysmal Bucs running game. Instead, the second-round pick fell flat on his face and had one of the worst rookie seasons ever.

He was so bad that a handful of fans were ready to run him out of Tampa after just one season.

That’s Roberto Aguayo territory.

Could Jones do what Aguayo couldn’t and have a bounce back season?

The way Bucs coaches are talking about him, he’s ready to lead the league in all-purpose yards and make the Pro Bowl.

Bounce back seasons are common among running backs. Since 2010, there have been a handful of Pro Bowlers who had disappointing rookie seasons before ultimately turning it around to become respectable running backs.

Among the worst 10 rookie seasons among eventual Pro Bowl running backs since 2010, players like Michael Turner, Arian Foster, Devonta Freeman and Mark Ingram are on the list.

The main reason for their turnaround?

More playing time.

Each didn’t look like a Pro Bowl player until he got more snaps in his second season or later. Once that happened, Arian Foster became Arian Foster and Devonta Freeman became Devonta Freeman.

Now nobody is comparing these players to Ronald Jones but it’s certainly a thought to entertain.

Can RoJo really bounce back from that awful rookie season?

Put him on the field and find out.

Top 10 worst rookie season among Pro Bowl RBs since 2010

C.J. Anderson (2013) – 7 rushes for 38 yards and 0 TD
0 receptions for 0 yards and 0 TD

James Conner (2017) – 32 rushes for 144 yards and 0 TD
0 receptions for 0 yards and 0 TD

Darren Sproles (2005) – 8 rushes for 50 yards and 0 TD
3 receptions for 10 yards and 0 TD

Michael Turner (2004) – 20 rushes for 104 yards and 0 TD
4 receptions for 8 yards and 0 TD

Arian Foster (2009) – 54 rushes for 257 yards and 3 TD
8 receptions for 93 yards and 0 TD

C.J. Spiller (2010) – 74 rushes for 283 yards and 0 TD
24 receptions for 157 yards and 1 TD

Lamar Miller (2012) – 51 rushes for 250 yards and 1 TD
6 receptions for 45 yards and 0 TD

Mark Ingram (2011) – 122 rushes for 474 yards and 5 TD
11 receptions for 46 yards and 0 TD

Devonta Freeman (2014) – 65 rushes for 248 yards and 1 TD
30 receptions for 225 yards and 1 TD

Latavius Murray (2014) – 82 rushes for 424 yards and 2 TD
17 receptions for 143 yards and 0 TD

70 Responses to “Ronald Jones Vs. Late-Bloomer RBs”

  1. casual observer Says:

    Hmmm, Maybe there’s hope.

  2. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    OK, that picture confirms what Koetter said about Rojo. He does have a rocket up his azz!

  3. Costa Rica John Says:

    Let’s hope it’s as simple as that and better blocking up from. Go Bucs!

  4. SmoothBayRider Says:

    Go compare Peyton Barber and Mark Ingram’s combine results and first few seasons in the league . Eerily similar . Nobody is complaining about Ingram these days now are they ?

  5. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Just needs more/better opportunity.

    Better comp would be Melvin Gordon who was a 3.5-3.9 YPC type back early on, which is about what Rojo’s average would have been last year with just an average amount of yards gained before contact per the NFL averages as a %.

    Sample size so small tho. Some of the best backs in the league have had 15-20 carries for 30 yard type days before

  6. D-Rome Says:

    Great article. What’s interesting about this list is that some of these players were behind current or future Hall of Famers and some of these players were behind each other! Sproles was behind LT, but Ingram was behind Sproles. Michael Turner was also behind LT. James Connor was behind Le’Veon Bell.

  7. got to be effing kidding me Says:

    Rookie running backs do not succeed in a Dirk Koetter offense…

  8. SCBucsFan Says:

    What needs to be dissected more in here is Rojo’s first year and the hope for improvement in year 2.

  9. KingCrabbLeggs Says:

    Lord Cornelius great comparison. I’m glad I read the comments I was about to say what you said.

  10. Destinjohnny Says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it

  11. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    The problem with this comparison is that RoJo as opposed to the others could have been THE GUY here from day 1. He never showed an inkling he would be anything in a preseason game & that should be a spot he could have success. The melvin gordon comp is good but gordon did it against some tough between the tackles defenses in the BIG10, rojo played against no defenses in the wack pac

  12. Buc4life Says:

    We also must remember Jones was probably the youngest player in the league. Add that this was his first time away from home. A year of offseason and strength training will make a ton of difference.

  13. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    There is a key diff here.

    Only 2-3 of these players averaged below 4 ypc (3.8s) and some of these were averaging 5-6 yards.

    Yes they were “dissapointing” seasons due to lack of opportunities, and def small sample sizes… But Jones averaging 1.9 is what really scares me.

    Not saying he cant bounce back, Jones being a small speed back was an awful fit for one of the worst running Olines in the league that led the league in letting RBs get hit in the backfield. ‘

    Heres crossing my fingers

  14. JimmyJack Says:

    Their are decent RBs still avialable in Free Agency. Ajaiy springs toind.

    Not sure what the plan is but a decent one would be to give RoJo a chance to shine in preseason. If he can’t hack it and nobody else steps up, like Bruce Anderson, then you can make a move.

    Always decent RBs avialable in these league. Not the worst weakness to have.

  15. Race to 10 Says:

    At least he’s not putting the ball on the ground, there’s a positive for the day.

  16. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Well hell, we’re giving JW 5 years to prove his worth so I guess ROJO deserves at least 2 years, right?

  17. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    ” Jones being a small speed back ”

    At 6’1″ and a 4.65 40, that would make Jones a large, slow back.

    A small speed back would be Darrell Henderson,5’9″ 4.37 40.

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I really enjoy Zach’s writing.

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Duthsty Rhothdes Says
    “The problem with this comparison is that RoJo as opposed to the others could have been THE GUY here from day 1.”

    That is completely wrong. One of Koetter’s faults is is undying loyalty to certain players and coaches. He was fully committed to Peyton Barber, and it showed throughout the season. He viewed Barber as his best chance to keep his job so far as RB.

    If what you say were even halfway true. Rojo would have had more playing time.

  20. 813bucboi Says:

    better coaching=better results….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  21. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I think it’s irresponsible for local media types to slam a rookie RB on a team that struggles immensely on the offensive line to block and open creases. To expect him to be like “Gale Sayers” coming out the gate, is simply being intolerable and unfair. I think we have the horses to adequately compete from Barber to Anderson, as long as we fix our crappy run blocking O-line.

  22. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    Bonzai I know you live in a bizzaro universe but what did rojo show you in preseason? I mean the top 10 RBs in preseason games last year all showed a flash and most took that to the regular season including 2 undrafted RBs that set league on fire. Blame koetter all you want because its easy in america to blame personal failures on anybody but the person in the mirror

  23. Ndog Says:

    Ghost ROJO ran a 4.48 at his Proday as he had a hurt hamstring at the combine.

  24. BA FAN Says:

    Watch Rojo go for TDs this year as our change of pace back!

  25. Pittsshore Says:

    Big difference: RJ runs scared, always has and always will. He was fast enough in college to get away from some of the hits. NFL linebackers are just as fast as him and he just simply does not want to get hit. Just look at his college film and pre-draft analysis. Another busted draft pick.

  26. geno711 Says:


    Henderson may be better than RJII. I have no idea really.

    But why quote Ronald Jone’s time at the NFL combine and then not use Darrell Henderson’s time at the combine (Henderson’s 4.37 that was 1st reported at the combine was justified to be a 4.49 there instead)?

    In 2016 in the USC vs UCLA game, RJII ran away from Fabian Moreau in that game who by the way had a 4.35 combine result in 2017. He looked plenty fast enough for game speed. His question will be whether he will be strong/tough enough in my opinion.

    P.S. You know RJII pulled up with a hamstring injury at the combine. So I guess what we should take out of that statistical reference is that he is slower when he suffers a hamstring injury.

    P.S.S. Both combine and Buccaneers have Jones at 5′ 11″. Also, Henderson decided to stand on his combine results for his 40 yard dash during his pro day. So I know of know official 4.37.

  27. BigHog Says:

    With opportunity…this ROJO guy needs better support at the line of scrimmage!! GO BUCS GO SUHY GO ROJO GO FAMOUS!!!

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent research Zach. There is another side of the coin though. How about all those RBs who had similar seasons to RoJo (and those others you listed) but who had even worse 2nd seasons. Yes they do exist … lots of them.

    JimmyJack hit the nail on the head. No rush to add RBs AT THIS POINT in the season. Clear some salary Cap space (which we’ve been doing) and let’s see in preseason what we’ve got. Let’s see who steps up to the plate in the various position groups, figure out what our biggest weaknesses are BEFORE Game 1, then grab the best of the players cut by the various teams who’ll fill our most pronounced NEEDS. RB MAY be one of those NEEDS, or Barber, RoJo, Anderson, Ellington, etc MAY step up big-time and we MAY find that DE is our greatest NEED (yes I threw that bone in for Joe). Actually I’m thinking OLine will turn out to be our weakest position group. But only time will tell.

  29. even 1-15 is a dream Says:

    One of these things is very very very much not like the others:

    1.9 | Ronald Jones
    5.4 | CJ Anderson
    4.5 | James Conner
    6.2 | Darren Sproles
    5.2 | Michael Turner
    4.8 | Arian Foster
    3.8 | CJ Spiller
    4.9 | Lamar Miller
    3.9 | Mark Ingram
    3.8 | Devonta Freeman
    5.2 | Latavius Murray

    Nice try tho

  30. Barbosa Says:

    I hope you are wrong Pitts. Unfortunately I don’t think that you are though. You can’t coach toughness and willpower

  31. Chris K Says:

    @Ghost… Do not post things you don’t know about. That is not ROJO’s time, not even close. So your whole comment gets tossed out the window when post an obvious lie like that.

  32. AwShbucs Says:

    Ghost of Schiano.

    As it’s been reported numerous times, the only reason Jones ran a bad 40 at the combine was due to a bad hammy. He ran a 4.41 at his pro day. He’s plenty fast.

    Someone who likes to pretend they know what they’re talking about should probably actually know what they are talking about.

  33. Buc50 Says:

    One of these things is very very very much not like the others:


    That pretty much says it all

  34. stpetebucsfan Says:

    There is one thing about sports in general but is particularly true in football.

    Every year we get a new season. In the NFL if I recall, please correct me if I’m mistaken because I’m quoting a Dirk Koetter offhanded statement…33% of virtually all NFL teams are totally new every season.

    Yet so many here simply cannot escape the past. If we had exactly the same team this would be a waste but with the turnover involved it grows even more absurd.

    Other old farts…think Chad and Jeremy’s hit…”That was yesterday and yesterday’s gone”.

    Thank heavens we are just four days from rookies and a few more after that for the vets to arrive.

    Chinese proverb…If you’re depressed you’re spending too much time in the past…if you’re anxious you’re spending too much time in the future…if you’re feeling well you are in the present moment.

  35. doctor_berto Says:

    LOLL these are very humorous comparisons, especially the Melvin Gordon one. This dude ran with his eyes closed and showed no shake, hands or ability to break tackles. What has been shown that gives anyone any type of optimism that ROJO can be like these players?

  36. TampaTown Says:

    Great job Zach

  37. BucEmUp Says:

    Zach, its nice to have one more person around here with some common sense and not a bunch of keyboard GM’s who think drafting a qb will save the entire team when its been coaching all along.


  38. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    The similarity between Devonta Freeman and Ronald Jones?

    Dirk Koetter running the offense in their rookie seasons.

  39. Cobraboy Says:

    ZS brings some solid reporting.

    Give that kid a full-time job…or maybe I will. One could build a solid site with the young guy’s moxie and writing skills…

  40. JimmyJack Says:

    Some experts say you should always give drafted players 3 seasons before derming them busts. There’s a reason they say this. Transitioning to the pros is a learning curve that varies by the player.

    The only knock against that rule is that learning curve is usually shorter for RBs. And even if they dont have a great 1st year they usually at least show show a flash at least once as a rookie. RoJo showed nothing but only getting 20 carries don’t help.

    Either way I do like to follow the 3 year rule as it does spare kneejerk reactions. That said if the guy can’t show any flash during preseason it might be wisest to just cut your losses and upgrade the position. Curious to see how he does on the field against Pittsburg in 3 weeks.

  41. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The entire sample size for Rojo is about one game……let’s see what happens in year 2……His highlights from USC look really good…..and IDGAF if he runs scared… long as he runs.

  42. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    “But why quote Ronald Jone’s time at the NFL combine and then not use Darrell Henderson’s time at the combine (Henderson’s 4.37 that was 1st reported at the combine was justified to be a 4.49 there instead)? ”

    Good point. I didn’t see Rojo run at the combine. I did read about it at Joebucfan. I believe the Joes. Someone made a comment about Rojo being a small speed back, I don’t agree.

    I saw DH run a 4.37 at the combine. The announcer exclaimed, “Wow! Now that’s a home run!” That run stood out among all the RB’s and was clearly the fastest time. They could have shown two of the fastest guys super imposed over the other and compared them but there was no controversy. DH clearly won. It was later behind closed doors that the “Suits” altered it.

    Where did they come up with 4.49? The clock didn’t say that. Why wouldn’t they just let him run again?

    Sounds to me there was some chicanery going on from some one else’s agent.
    Maybe, the Rams complained and adjusted it to the middle of the pack.

    If Darrell had signed with Drew Rosenhaus before the combine or had a lawyer present, the time would have stood and DH would have been an early 1st round pick.

    I think the main problem with Darrell Henderson is that he doesn’t stick up for himself. He just shrugs his shoulders and goes along with the program. He’s more of a team player.

    When he was voted Mr Football of Mississippi in 2014, why didn’t he insist that he be the starting RB at Memphis as a condition of signing a scholarship? Why didn’t he insist that he be the kick returner? He is the most exciting and electric kick returner I have ever seen. Instead, he just shrugged his shoulders and went along with the program and played 2nd string and still rewrote the record books.

    Darrell was a lot better than his tremendous stats suggest.

    It was a freaking miracle from God that the best RB in the history of the NCAA (8.2YPC) fell to the 70th pick and the Rams stole him like taking candy from a baby.

  43. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree! Just like the scene from Forrest Gump when he’s racing down the field and Bear Bryant goes look at that….run.

  44. D1 Says:

    First down tampa bay,

    And…..Neither could block. Both struggled with the playbook.

    I’m guessing you missed Arians speaking to the lack of blocking development in college and the issues it entails when transitioning into the pros. Now, consider arians and koetter run the same scheme then it’s not smart to point to koetter as the issue and arians as the savior.

    If you look at Rojo in his first year at usc, he had the same issues. I’m not entirely sure. .but there’s a possibility koetter wasn’t the usc coach or coordinator at that time.

  45. Jean Lafitte Says:

    The difference between 4.37 and 4.43 is about the length of an arm from the wrist to the elbow in 40 yards. I would be more interested in their cone time. It’s an exercise that measures agility in change of direction in a confined space. How a RB performs in tight spaces, and can break ankles is more effective, and important than hundreds of a second in 40 yards.

  46. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    stpetebucsfan .

    Don’t insult Forrest>.

  47. AwShbucs Says:


    You have to be kidding here right? 4.49 was the actual laser time. And 4.37 was the unofficial hand time for the TV cameras.

    Theres no conspiracy. Just like back when Mike Evan’s ran his 40 unofficially he ran a 4.5 flat. Officially he a ran 4.53.

  48. BringBucsBack Says:

    1-15…Dream slams the nail on the head! Rojo’s output was nothing…virtually NOTHING! NO flashes. Virtually NOTHING! That’s hard to do but, he did it. Nothing is very hard to do! Simply falling forward should have yielded more yardage. How many go from Nothing to great?

    Yes, Dirk’s “run game” & the run-blocking blows but, nothing?

    Rojo’s “statlessness” (nothingness) last year is almost as difficult to obtain as a starting DT that makes only 18 tackles in 16 games!? Today’s word: Nothing!

    Go Bucs! Go Rojo!

  49. BigMacAttack Says:

    He was lost but the O line sucked out loud. So there’s that.

  50. Allbuccedup Says:

    Rojo was a Licht bust. As was a lot of other players this idiot has drafted.

  51. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Out of a total of 24 carries, RoJo was gang tackled 13 times behind the line of scrimmage. Subtract those poor blocking plays from his 24 total carries, and you get 11 positive carries for 44yds. Divide 44yds by 11 carries, and you get 4yds a carry. What’s the problem? Do we expect him to be superman?

  52. TDTB Says:

    Admittedly the Bucs line isn’t the best in the league but neither is the Giant’s. Barkley killed it. Rojo showed absolutely nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. He’s a bust.

  53. Jean Lafitte Says:

    .and another thing to remember. Every time he was tackled behind the LOS, it was subtracted from his total yards. Take away those deductions and he may have had way more than 44 positive yards.

  54. SteveK Says:

    Dude looked lost out there last year. He would’ve been cut from the team had Jason not wasted a second round pick.

    Let’s hope he breaks out this year, and he looked bad last year. I don’t want to hear excuses. He sucked and couldn’t really even catch the ball. Hard to be one dimensional, and not explosive. Looking forward to a much better year.

    I bet Joe would rather have “receiving back” chuck sims instead of RoJo. I know sims was better to this point. Not even close.

  55. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Barkley got a lot more than 24 carries. I will guarantee you he was tackled for loss many times.

  56. Swamp Buc Says:

    Show me a solid RG, and I will show you 2 RBs that look better than last year.

  57. Davy Jones' Locker Says:

    good insight Jean

  58. ToesOnTheLine!!! Says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only optimistic fan here that is using the Melvin Gordon scenario for a comparison. Been saying that for months…that’s my hope (that dirty four letter word!) anyway. I’m also hoping RoJo has been working as hard on his pass catching as he has been working on his physique.

  59. Chris K Says:

    @Ghost…Official combine time is only just that. Maybe the official started the watch to soon? Doesn’t matter. Every team has an NFL scout or two present using their own stop watches and they’ll rely on that for the most part.

  60. Buccaroo Says:

    The 3rd down back will be Bruce Anderson. He, will be the next Charles Simms. Bruce is a really good receiving back. Go check his college highlights. To me he’s as good as Kamara. I can’t wait to see more of him this preseason.

  61. Allbuccedup Says:

    Rojo never broke 4.5 all the other 4.4s is a load of crap. Just like all the other BS coming from this organization. Rojo can’t follow his blockers always runs the wrong way and scared of getting hit. Other than that he’s the best the bucs have. All that skill to go with a great O-line.

  62. OneBuc55 Says:

    Ghost can we stop with the Darell Henderson mumbo jumbo…

    He played at Memphis for crying out loud…not exactly a RB factory, and sure as heck not in a strong defensive confrence…

    Imo Rojo simply wasn’t physically ready for the NFL, coupled with being grossly underused and mishandled by one of the worst coach’s in Bucs history who has a pretty shakey history with rookie RBs to begin with…

  63. BucsBandit Says:


    The kid only got to run the ball 23 total times all year. Give him a break.

    I remember many of those carries and many of them had defenders in the backfield before we could go anywhere.

    And for all you crybabies saying he’s a 4.5+ slow back, you’re idiots:

  64. Ndog Says:

    Dang you guys give up on players to quick. I try to be positive but you all are ridiculous with the bashing ROJO, bashing/hating the Devin White pick, ripping Donovan Smith, saying Licht sucks, suggesting Arains came here to retire, hammering away last year on Vea before he even took a snap, etc……

    You guys are freaking depressing, isn’t football supposed to be fun? At least wait till we lose a game to turn into a bunch of winers, geesh.

  65. Go Bucs 72 Says:

    OB55, Yes Koetter was bad, but he was not one of our worst head coaches by any means. Richard Williamson, Lovie Smith, Leeman Bennett, Ray Perkins, Sam Wyche and Greg Schiano were all much more terrible……… and after thinking about all of those clowns I’m going to go throw up. Thanks buddy. lol

  66. D1 Says:


    Totally agree. ..why ghost is constantly chattering on about a player we didn’t draft is bizarre. That freak will probably be posting love letters to this player on another team, for the entire season . We can only hope his next electro shock therapy goes ….poorly …..

  67. Tc Says:

    The guy runs with his eyes down. (See pics of him taking handoff)

  68. Cobraboy Says:

    @Go Bucs 72: Sam Wyche was a fine coach with little to work with. He started what Dungy molded and Gruden finished.

  69. RODNEY ALLEN Says:

    First Down Tampa Bay Says:
    July 16th, 2019 at 2:54 pm
    The similarity between Devonta Freeman and Ronald Jones?

    Dirk Koetter running the offense in their rookie seasons.

    Say it again for those in the back. What was his biggest thing everyone complained about when he was our coach, “if a rb cant block he can play for me”! 🤷‍♂️🤦‍♂️

  70. DB55 Says:

    Lol, this reminds me of when we used to trash Doug Martin. Now we have no rb. Same thing will happen when you run jw out of town. You’ll be stuck with no qb. Lol.