Lost Chemistry/Connection Battle

June 5th, 2021

If you called plays in the NFL for over a decade, including a Super Bowl, and live in the Tampa Bay area, Joe’s inclined to pay close attention when you talk Bucs.

That was the case this week with former Cardinals, Chiefs, Steelers and Browns playcaller Todd Haley, now enjoying early retirement calling plays for Riverview High School in Sarasota.

Haley also is a frequent co-host on SiriusXM NFL Radio, where he spoke this week about how he often was puzzled last season by how the Bucs seemed to get away from Ronald Jones in the running game at times.

Haley said his trained eye leads him to believe that Tom Brady feels he has a better connection and chemistry with Leonard Fournette, and that’s the reason RoJo came up short last year on the big stats many believed he could have had.

Initially, Joe was skeptical of how much Haley watched the Bucs, but Haley went on to explain that he was a regular viewer and even had RoJo on his fantasy team all season. Haley is a big fan of RoJo’s running style.

(On a funny side note, Haley admitted believing for many years that fantasy football was stupid and worthless — and then he recently started playing and fell in love with it.)

Joe agrees with Haley. Does anyone think if Fournette was a handoff or two or three from a 1,000-yard season that Brady wouldn’t have made sure Fournette got the mark?

Joe believes RoJo’s suspect pass-catching hands lost him a little Brady trust and affection, despite him having the most efficient season in the history of full-time Tampa Bay running backs. Hopefully, RoJo can earn back that little bit of lost trust this season.

33 Responses to “Lost Chemistry/Connection Battle”

  1. DaBux Says:

    RoJo can’t pass block and is horrid at catching the ball. If that doesn’t improve this season, he’s ejectable.

  2. Cobraboy Says:

    But Jones is a top runner with vision, burst, and power.

    You don’t get rid of that. You use it as needed.

  3. Medicated Pete Says:

    Rojo belongs in the Ring of Honor at The Licht House from the 98yd TD run alone & put Jensen in there at the same time for the amazing 2nd level block on that play.

  4. No Risk It No Biscuit Says:

    Not scoring a rushing touchdown inside the 5-yard line at the Super Bowl that all he had to do was extend the ball over the line definitely does not give confidence to Brady on Ronald’s mindset.

    Jones was too worried about not fumbling that ball.

    When fear takes away from your ability to think, bad things happen.

    I’m sure Ronald dreamt a few times with that play since the Super Bowl.

    This is when you turn fear into conviction and impose your will on the defense.

    Let’s Go, Ronald!!!!!

  5. Kentucky Buc Says:

    There were a lot more reasons than one game that Rojo didn’t get 1k yards. Missed games due to COVID and injuries. Played sparingly due to injuries in a couple games. Got pulled from a couple games because of fumbles. Saying one game cost you 1k is like saying you lost a bb game because of one missed shot.

  6. Iron Wombat Says:

    on a scale of 1-10 Rojo’s catching ability is at best a -2, but he’s the best pure runner on the team.

  7. Jonzey Says:

    Tojo is better than Fournette , Fournette was tip toeing through the holes all season, Jones had a better Average per carry, and we were about to send Fournette on his way

  8. Jonzey Says:


  9. Alanbucsfan Says:

    If it’s 3rd and 5, I’d rather see Brate or Miller or Bernard or even Tyler Johnson on the field than RoJo or Fournette.
    If it’s 3rd and 1 or less, I’d rather see RoJo or Fournette. Pound it ! But don’t use Vea as lead blocker.

  10. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    It’s the hands and the blocking.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I think AB had more to do with Rojo not getting 1K than chemistry with Brady….

    When you share carries with a RB like Leonard Fournette, you’re likely not going to get 1000 yards.

    But, I actually agree that Rojo is a better runner…..

    As for 3rd & 5…..give me Gio Bernard.

  12. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    Can you imagine if Brady had a guy like Alstott in his prime? Checkdown monster!

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    Chemistry may have had a lot to do with RoJo’s pass-catching woes this past year. Interesting to compare his 2019 pass-catching results with Jameis Winston to his 2020 pass-catching results with Tom Brady.

    In 2019 RoJo was targeted 40 times and caught 31 of those (77.5%) for 309 receiving yards. Interestingly he made 12 first downs receiving that year, and averaged 10.0 yds/reception. Not too shabby for an RB. Most interesting to me, his YBC (the total yds passes traveled in the air 0before being caught) was 19 yds, and yet his YBC/R (yds before catch per reception) was only 0.6 yds, but his YAC/R (yds AFTER catch per reception) was a whopping 9.4 yds. IOW, sounds like Jameis was hitting RoJo further out in the flats, and RoJo was picking up some very good YAC as a result.

    Fast forward to 2020. RoJo was targeted 42 times but caught only 28 of those (66.7%) for 165 receiving yds. Interestingly he only made 2 first downs receiving last year, and his average dropped to 5.9 yds/reception. His YBC (the total yds passes traveled in the air before being caught) was only 8 yds, and yet his YBC/R (yds before catch per reception) dropped to 0.3 yds, and his YAC/R (yds AFTER catch per reception) also dropped to only 5.6 yds. IOW, sounds like Tom Brady was hitting RoJo much closer in than Jameis had (using him differently), and RoJo had trouble dealing with that as a result.

    Don’t know if others noticed this last year, but I thought that Fournette also had trouble coming up with those close in dump-offs from Brady. Some of them were in-your-face bullets that even WRs would’ve had trouble holding onto, and many others were strategically placed to make sure no one would INT them. Smart move obviously, but I have a hunch it takes an RB with exceptional hands and quickness to really make much out of passes like that, assuming of course that they catch the pass at all. James White was certainly one of those RBs IMO, and hopefully Giovanni Bernard will also be.

  14. lambeau Says:

    YBC= Total distance all passes from LOS

  15. BucEmUp Says:

    Bernard will be the back in both fantasy and real life production

  16. Rod Munch Says:

    Rojo can’t catch, but let us not forget that it was Fournette who popped a ball up in the air for an INT in the SB, which was overturned on a PI call away from the play. There’s a reason that Giovani Bernard was brought in, but it’s also why it was a bit questionable to bring back Fournette as well. If Giovani Bernard is your 3rd down back, and I’d assume he will be, having Rojo as your primary carrier would have been ideal, I think. But, then again, if you can add quality depth on the cheap, and Fournette was mostly great in the playoffs, then why not keep him around.

    At the end of the year the stats for everyone in the backfield are likely not to be that great, but that will also make it cheaper to resign if the Bucs wants to. Maybe that’s what this was all about — getting depth now and making the resignings cheaper next year.

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    Lambeau you’ve got me confused. If you go to Pro-Football-Reference.com they define YBC as ‘Total yards traveled in the air before being caught’. They’re obviously talking ‘average’ because 8 yards TOTAL in the air for the 40 passes Brady threw to RoJo in 2020 would be a ridiculous 1/5th of yard per pass YBC as opposed to 8 yds YBC. That’s the definition that I used (and the numbers that I used).

    The main point though is that RoJo was used much differently in 2020 than in 2019 as far as pass catching goes. Watching some Tom Brady’s check downs/dumpoffs throughout the season gave me the impression that all of our RBs had problems handling those short, quick passes. Actually the best was McCoy, although he didn’t get many opportunities.

  18. lambeau Says:

    RoJo’s 0.3 YBC/R was because he caught his average pass 1 foot beyond the LOS; Leonard caught his average pass 0.1 yard or 3 inches beyond the LOS.

  19. Tony Says:

    Even if Jones were to end up going they’d probably be alright still because they just drafted Vaughn & Fournette & Bernard seem to be fitting in just fine with them. Brady would be just fine with Fournette & Bernard & then depending on how they’d wanna use Vaughn, too!

  20. lambeau Says:

    Brady simply has to stop throwing to RoJo. It can be done. Ne never threw more than 8 times to LeGarette Blount, and in two seasons with Sony Michel he threw to him 31 times total over 32 games. He now has a receiving back in Gio. But both Blount and Michel are good backs, like RoJo.

  21. Tony Says:

    Maybe they might end up with Keyshawn GIMME THE DAMN BALL #2 if they don’t use much soon.😀

  22. ElioT Says:

    jbf – always gotta hate on Rojo.

    Why can’t we root for them all?

  23. Oneilbuc Says:

    If you take those 989 yards away from Rojo do the bucs win 11 games?

  24. Oneilbuc Says:

    Eliot . The only player who get credit for the team is Brady. If you say Rojo is a good runningback without saying because of Brady then they don’t want to hear you.

  25. Executive Concerts & Management Inc. Says:

    Ronald did a great job. He was wise to hold on to the ball in the Superbowl. He truly has become a thinker and an educated football player is a better player. Hold on to that ball Mr. Jones. See what happen to Green Bay running back fumbles. They turned in to Bucs scores. Just sayinggggggg……..

  26. The Deflator Says:

    Alan, that’s not saying a whole lot. What you’re describing is called situational football. Not a new concept.

  27. Oneilbuc Says:

    Executive . Brady threw 3 picks in the championship game and the defense bailed him out and people act like it never happened . So they gave him pass but they nick pic Rojo all the time. And never give him credit for nothing. Rojo was on pace for a 1500 yard season. He was out 4 are 5 games and still had 989 rushing yards.

  28. Youngbucs Says:

    Oneilbucs stfu get a life you picking the wrong hill to die on!!!!!

  29. Youngbucs Says:

    Jameis Winston fu*king sucked as a buc oneil. Let it go you have lost the battle we kick him to the curb and won it all!!!

  30. JimmyJack Says:

    I say its a mistake to look at the percents of passes caught to determine if a RB is good a recieving. To me its not all about drops.

    We dont have manny recieving backs in Tampa to compare to so I gotta point to McCoy. Rewind and look at some of his receptions. He hauls it in cleanly and in one motion collects the ball while turning upfield. Its very natural……..Rojo just simply dont have this ability. He is clunky, he dont recieve it cleanly. He doesnt look to make his move until he completes the reception. It puts Rojo more then half a step behind a natural passs catcher, like McCoy. That half a step can often be the difference from extending the drive and punting. In other words Rojo stink as a reciever.

    I do love Ronald as a runner. I think he will have a really nice career.

    Leonard is a bit better at recieving but nothing too special.

    All in all we got a nice little backfield with several solid backs that can all bring something to the table.

  31. JimmyJack Says:

    Oniel that because Brady put us up by 3 scores in that game. Unreal, its almost like you dont even know what happened in that game.

    So yeah, when Brady throws a pick(or even 3) that didnt cost us a game nobidys gonna really be too upset about it.

    So go back under you rock and come crawling out when Brady got the ball in his hand with the game on the line and he ends it with a boneheaded pick…….Just like when Winston threw 5 pucks and still found a way to beat the Colts, nobody really cares when he won us the game…….Fans seem to only really care about winning or losing. I guess its some kind of phenomenon or something.

  32. Oneilbuc Says:

    Again if any one give credit to any other player on the team without saying he’s good because of Brady all yall get mad lol 😆😂🤣. Stop worshiping Brady he’s just 1 player on the team . What happened when we were 7 and 5 yall blamed every body but Brady. And when things got better it was all because of Brady lol 😆😂 . I can’t wait until Brady leaves so all you Patriots fan and Brady fans can go . I’m a bucs fan not a one player fan like the rest of yall ESPN , Fox sports sheep are !!! Lol 😆🤣😂

  33. Oneilbuc Says:

    Youngbucs from the sound of things I have waay more life than you. You worship Brady and he is your god . Lol 😆🤣😂