Reporting Progress

November 12th, 2019

Ira goes inside the Bucs locker room to talk player development. Click through here to shop Black Friday deals at


As an organization, the Bucs haven’t exactly been cutting edge when it comes to player development.

That may be about to change.

Two young players who have already dealt with their share of adversity are emerging as key contributors going forward. That bodes well for a franchise and a fan base that can write a 12-volume treatise on adversity.

In case you haven’t noticed, Ronald Jones is living up to the offseason hype after a dismal rookie year that could have left him buried on the depth chart. Buoyed by the steady encouragement of Tampa Bay’s coaching staff, Jones has displaced Peyton Barber as a starter in the backfield.

Ronald Jones

Jones ranks 24th among league rushers with 410 yards, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize he has 8 more yards than Saquon Barkley on 2 more carries. His 4.0 average is more than double his
2018 output and on Sunday, Jones provided a graphic example of how much he has improved as a backfield target.

He caught all 8 passes Jameis Winston sent his way and even a careless fumble on his final reception shouldn’t overshadow Jones’ effectiveness in the screen game.

Jones gained 17 yards on a 3rd-and-15 screen and added another 17-yard catch on a 2nd-and-15 screen. A 14-yard reception gave Jones three receptions that moved the chains and helped end a 4-game slide.

“The thing I like about this coaching staff is they are very positive and encouraging,” says Demar Dotson. “With Ronald Jones, they were patting him on the back, letting him know you’re going to be a good football player. That does a lot for a young guy like that.”

Jones has repaid that faith with hard work and a fierce determination to prove last year was a youthful aberration. He ended last season with a reputation for a tentative running style and stone hands.

Through nine games, he’s staking a powerful claim as Tampa Bay’s most improved player.

Man In The Mirror

Then we have the case of cornerback Jamel Dean, a third-round pick out of Auburn who had played sparingly in four games before playing 58 snaps at Seattle due to a pre-game injury to Carlton Davis. Although Dean registered 5 tackles and 4 pass breakups against the Seahawks, his inexperience was on full display as Russell Wilson shredded Tampa Bay’s secondary.

Rookie cornerback Jamel Dean

Dean could have lost his confidence and shriveled up against the Cardinals. Instead, he turned in a signature play in the closing minutes with an interception that triggered the game-winning drive.

“Dean’s poised,” says Lavonte David. “He never gets too high or too low — and that’s what I love about him. He stepped up big time for us.”

Once again, Dean was credit with 4 pass breakups. That’s a big number. Departed Vernon Hargreaves had four all season.

“Dean came back after a struggling week,” Dotson says. “Last week, I know the guy was hurting, but the guy came in Monday and put it aside. He was the first one in the building, telling everyone he needs to get better.”

Young players, especially young cornerbacks, can go south in a hurry when they endure a long day like Dean experienced in Seattle. Todd Bowles and cornerback coach Kevin Ross took turns keeping Dean’s spirits up throughout the week — and that extra attention paid off.

Dean responded very well, but here comes a heck of a challenge. Drew Brees and the Saints are rolling into town, still hacked off about a lethargic loss to the last-place Falcons.

Dean will need all of his skills and poise when matched against Michael Thomas, who tops the NFL in both catches and receiving yards by a large margin.

The Bucs dropped a 31-24 decision at New Orleans in Week 5 and another shootout could be looming Sunday. Jones and Dean will need to extend their impressive learning curve while Winston continues to write his own progress chart.

“Jameis is fighting man, he’s hungry,” Dotson says. “He’s one of the guys walking the sidelines, saying we’re gonna win this game, trying to keep everyone locked in. That guy’s got a heart like a lion.”

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Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the league and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at The Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. You can hang out with Ira during every Bucs road games at Buffalo Wild Wings. His schedule is linked here.


30 Responses to “Reporting Progress”

  1. JimmyJack Says:

    Ira I feel like you could throw Cappas name into this report also.

  2. tmaxcon Says:

    i find it hilarious using dotson for quotes on anything has to do with progress or winning. asking dotson about winning is equivalent to ask a politician to define ethics. dotson knows about as much about winning as the glazers do about fielding a competitive team year in and year out… if you want to ask about losing, basement titles and draft talk by October dotson is your guy

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    rojo proved a lot of folks wrong…..good to see….continue to feed him…

    we may be able to resign JPP and Shaq now that we’ve cut VHG along with not resigning suh….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  4. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I feel so cozy and comfortable now. What’s the over/under on Winston TO’s this week? …I know, I know ..I should be more optimistic ..oh wait, I had been up until the last year and a half. Sick of the Fumblin’, stumblin’, bumblin’ sloppy football. We need a field general not a gun slinger.

  5. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Make that a pot shot wannabe gunslinger

  6. bucafaninchina Says:

    Vita Vea
    Ronald Jones
    Jamel Dean
    Chris Godwin
    Alex Cappa
    Donovan Smith

    All young guys who have taken / are in the midst of taking major steps forward this year with the new coaching change.

  7. 813bucboi Says:



    “they’ll” get you…lol…

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  8. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    If Jameis can keep playing well I am hopeful that we can use that first pick on the offensive tackle from UGA, draft some defensive linemen and pick up an experienced CB in free agency. No rookie QB can come in here and succeed if we don’t address the trenches and defensive shortcomings. I know the haters want somebody like Dalton or Keenum, but those guys won’t perform at the level Jameis does. The defense is a sieve and Jameis gives us the best chance to win in a shootout. You think some game managing scrub is going to help the team win when we are giving up 30+ points per game.

  9. Troy Says:

    Jean, we have to wait another 5 years to draft another QB because JEM (Jay-Miss Excuse Machine) is unwilling to admit what every impartial observer knows: Winston cannot play competent football in this league.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I am hopeful that Carlton Davis will continue to improve along with SMB……perhaps Edwards will turn out to be a good pick….

    So, we will have as DBs…….Dean, Bunting, Davis, Whitehead & Edwards…..all first or 2nd year players… can only hope at this point…..too early to toss in the towel on any of them.

  11. Stanglassman Says:

    BA was an impartial observer and chose Jameis over Mayfield and all the talent they have on the browns. I guess he doesn’t know as much as you and the 30% of Bucs fans that agree with you.

  12. Mike Johnson Says:

    .Say Ira, it was felt good period to see our Bucs get a win. Because all buc fans were in that sinking place. For a change, a few calls actually went our way. Saints are pissed though. Bucs gotta Ruck up come Sunday.

  13. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Stanglass – very encouraging to see the poll on JW. 70% of voters want to see him return either with a 1 year franchise tag or a long term deal. At least now we know there is only 30% of the fans want him ousted. I am sure not all of them are haters either. So the haters that blast all things JW on every post they make are a very small minority, they are just the loudest. Much like I am a never Trumper, they were never Winston from the beginning and have been waiting for him to fail since the day he got here.

  14. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    Man what is it with people in this comment section dragging politics into it. I used to be pro Winston based upon what I have seen we have to move on.

  15. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Tampabuscsbro – what is that you have seen that makes you think we “have to” move on? We have the 7th ranked overall offense in the league. You think those numbers improve with Dalton, Keenum, or Jalen Hurts?

  16. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    JPP’s play is superlative.  His leadership and intangibles are invaluable for a struggling franchise trying to manage a substantial and real culture change.  You won’t find a better total package.

    By all means do WHATEVER it takes to bring back JPP and and Barrett.

    If our young DBs can learn fast enough and grow into the defense Todd Bowles wants to field we can finally break into the playoffs and be truly ready to compete and make a run for the big dance. 

    P.S. Beef up the OL during the off season and our offense will be even better.

  17. NPRSageBoy Says:

    Heart of a Lion, arm of a Turnover Machine; that’s JayMiss.

  18. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    I forgot to mention the progress we have seen for our special teams also this year.

    Even though our record is what it is you can see progress in many areas if you simply look. There has been progress made.

    Whether you call it a retool or a rebuild doesn’t really matter. We are headed in the right direction now.

    In BA I trust!

  19. Jason S. Mclaurin Says:

    Aah I haven’t been on in a while surprise to see the same people here saying the same thing. Dean if he can stay healthy will come up big. Hargreaves was done in my book. He was called out in training camp and thought he did just enough to keep BA off his back but he was wrong. I can see him having a big year with another team but his antics will grow from here that’s for sure if that happens. That entire draft was a miss only 3 years later. Oh yeah BucsRealist and tmaxcon are still telling y’all the real. This will be a fresh start trust me.

  20. Buccfan37 Says:

    Some transplants pretend they like the Bucs. Yeah they like them to lose.

  21. Pickgrin Says:

    Dean is coming along really well.

    Devin White is starting to show signs of why he was drafted so high.

    Edwards and SMB are both apparently not yet where the coaches hoped they would be – but both are very talented and will get there sooner than later I believe.

    Nelson has made a few plays this year with limited snaps.

    Gay has made 17 out of 20 field goal attempts through 9 games (85%)

    Even Scotty Miller made a nice catch on Sunday.

    The 2019 rookie class could really turn out to be a good one.

    Sure helps to have competent teachers helping to coach and guide all these talented young players the Bucs have. This includes all the 2nd and 3rd year players as well. Look what a huge jump Godwin made in his 3rd year. Vea looks good. Whitehead, Cappa, Rojo, Davis – all seem to be progressing nicely. Even Stewart looked improved in TC and pre-season.

  22. firethecannons Says:

    Cappa has improved mightily also
    would really like to see scotty miller and SMB make more progress and Nelson(d-line)

  23. TeethingBrat Says:

    When will the new indoor facility and 1 Buc yield results? Haven’t won a playoff game since they moved from the old practice facility in the trailer.

  24. ATLBucs Says:

    Did anyone see anything in the article where Dotson was asked anything about winning?

  25. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Your logic is flawed…

    30% want him flat out gone..

    21% want a long term deal

    68% are willing to let him have , “just one more try” gluttons for punishment

    So really 20% are JW supporters. The rest are done and nearly done with JW.

  26. Billy_45 Says:

    7th overall offense doesn’t take turnovers in to account only gains and yards.

    Yes I think Keenum or just about 10 other free agents could hit the best duo in the league.

    Howard finally scores. DUH.

    Think about what we could score without the one QB with the most turnovers in the entire league.

    I have been a Jamieis supporter for 5 years now and it shouldn’t have to even be a discussion if he was the right man for the job.

    You think the Chiefs and Bills are having this discussion?

    There are 4 QBs in next year’s draft who are better day 1.

  27. Cobraboy Says:

    No one has improved as much as Alex Cappa.

  28. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    The Bills??? Was that a typo???

  29. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    TeethingBrat Says:
    “Haven’t won a playoff game since they moved from the old practice facility in the trailer.”

    “The trailer.” LOL
    It was at least a double-wide.

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