“He Struggled Mentally To Get Over It”

September 10th, 2021

Ronald Jones had a costly fumble last night, but it was more than that, Bucco Bruce Arians said this afternoon.

RoJo kind of dissappeared after his first-down run at the Bucs’ 22 yard line was punched out by DeMarcus Lawrence midway through the second quarter.

Arians was asked about his running backs’ division of labor and said RoJo’s mind wasn’t quite right so that’s why he was a bench-dweller for most of the remaining 36 minutes.

“He struggled mentally to get over it,” Arians said of post-fumble RoJo.

That’s quite an admission by the head coach. RoJo is a fourth-year player with experience fumbling. It wasn’t like this was a crushing blow in the playoffs; it was opening night in the second quarter.

Joe hopes RoJo can shake it off. He wouldn’t be the first running back (including some greats) that ran into lingering fumbling issues that were as much mental as physical.

80 Responses to ““He Struggled Mentally To Get Over It””

  1. Patrick in VA Says:

    I know we don’t have access to this sort of information and I’m not sure it wouldn’t be a HIPPA violation to put it out, but it seems like he’s a prime candidate for some time with a sports psychologist. Seems like every year there’s a story about him having a significant mental hurdle to overcome when something doesn’t go well.

  2. Jmarkbuc Says:

    This happens every time he fumbles. People blame it on BA, but the truth is ROJO curls up in the fetal position.

    I’m surprised TB12 hasn’t been able to get him past that.

  3. Dew Says:

    Off subject but has there been any information on why OJ didn’t play (or played little?)???

  4. Youngbucs Says:

    What the need to do is define the roles better. Make a decision as to who is the lead not this we have 2 nonsense. 1-2 punch is great but this rotation every series is trash. Let the backup spell the starter more effective that way.

  5. Buc1987 Says:

    Well dayum.

  6. Nicholas Carlson Says:

    It was an epic Peanut Tillman ball punch. Sometimes the defender deserves more credit than the ball-carrier deserves blame.

  7. Medicated Pete Says:

    Fumbling is a thing that u have or don’t. Pete used to fumble on the sandlot in 3rd grade & never got past it

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Rojo has always had confidence issues……like a bad swing thought in golf….he needs to focus on a good one….like a 98 yard run.

    He’ll be back……I don’t think he fumbles that often…..compared to Keyshawn….and Fournette should have caught that pass……

    The killer fumble was Godwin’s …..about to score & turn it over.

  9. Coburn Says:

    Agree it was a good play by the defender, but I do have to say I didn’t really like the way he was carrying it before that either. Too much arm movement for the one holding the ball, did tuck it on more before contact, but the lunch out was good

  10. SOEbuc Says:

    This run game with Lenny ALL DAY is quite ridiculous and it happened last year, also. Fournette had nothing huge, except a bounce of the hands turned interception. You give RoJo more carries I guarantee he gets more yards than Lenny. If I was RoJo I would definitely consider moving on from the Bucs next year and I’m sure they will too. It’s a shame he’s a good RB.

  11. 813bucboi Says:

    BA is a str8 shooter lol….

    And I agree with him…after he fumbled he went to the bench and his body language screamed it’s over don’t put me back in coach….

    I would’ve like to see him stand on the sideline ready to get back in….

    I hope GB is ready…lol…


  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Nice thing about having 3 quality, experienced RBs like RoJo, Lenny & Gio is that if one has an ‘issue’ (like fumbling or maybe not catching the ball) the team has the luxury of just swapping in another back. Plug n play.

    I’m sure that RoJo didn’t stay awake Weds night dreaming of starting off the season by fumbling in the 1st half of Game 1. Some players, however, are obviously better at shaking off miscues like that than some others are. He’ll get over it and move on. Actually Patrick I think RoJo has a sports psychologist already … named Bruce Arians. BA won’t let him linger on it.

  13. Jason Says:

    Bite the football!

  14. Miller5252 Says:

    This will be Rojo’s last year here. He’s been a head case since the draft. And since Arians doesn’t believe in paying big bucks for backs Rojo will be let go. Got a good culture going and don’t need him messing it all up.

  15. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Defense Rules – I would agree with you but you have to wonder about the effectiveness of it. BA was his psychologist last year too and here we are with him still struggling with it. There’s something to be said about being able to confide in someone the roots of what it is that’s putting you in that kind of a headspace when that person isn’t also the guy that determines whether or not you stay on the team. Your point is well taken that BA is a great player advocate and a very personable guy, but the results bear out that it’s worth considering him having a new sounding board to help keep him with some new ways to get himself in the right headspace.

  16. HeyItsAdam Says:

    You know who doesn’t have these problems?

    Dalvin Cook.

    But Oj Howard played a great game last night… lots of potential.

  17. Robert Says:

    they both looked average last night. maybe it was the line or the cowgirls D. what happened to playoff lenny around the edge???

    all this up the gut stuff….they go no where with that.

  18. Robert Says:

    I don’t blame rojo for giving up though….. it’s a given he was coming out when he fumbled. i’d put it more on him giving up on getting back in the game than wanting to get back in. after lenny turned it over i would have thought rojo would have been standing on the sideline with helmet on, but i did not notice it.

  19. JimmyJack Says:

    Our RBs gag up the football way too often and its becoming an issue.

  20. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Gotta wonder if they’re saving Gio for later.

    Got the feeling they didn’t want to put too much on tape last night.

  21. PassingThru Says:

    RoJo is the same promising RB that he was at USC… but that’s a promise that is but seldom kept. I don’t see him becoming what was prophesized.

  22. mark2001 Says:

    But Pete.. I used to fumble with some ladies underwear. I practiced, got better, and got pretty good at it. Until some arthritis started kicking in.

  23. Duane Says:

    There is little margin for error at the RB position on this team. Lenny has hands of stone, but doesnt cough it up on the carry. Rojo is running out of chances, and if you cant make it as a feature back on this team when everyone wants you to be that guy, then its time to move on. I dont think he is ever going to pan out as a high level player because its not a running league anymore. You have to run, block, and catch to be high end caliber player, and Rojo is none of those. It is a long season, so he will get opportunities, but its becoming obvious that this team has no time to wait for Rojo to get his mind and his game straight.

  24. TheBradyBunch Says:

    I’m not buying that story. BA benches RBs when they fumble. I’m sure he wanted back out there. Pretty sure BA was insinuating that he wasn’t mentally with it because he didn’t protect the ball well enough.

  25. Rod Munch Says:

    Come on? BS, Arians.

    You benched him because he fumbled.

    Personally I think that’s pretty stupid to do that in the first game of the season, early in the game. But that’s what happened. Other coaches have done this same thing so it’s not like it’s unique to Arians, but it also wasn’t like Rojo was being lazy or stupid, the ball getting knocked out was a good defensive play.

    Now, lets just say Arians isn’t lying and Rojo is a emo cupcake who was crying on the sidelines — in that case, cut him. If you’re that mentally weak, you should not be on the team. But of course that is not what happened.

  26. Joe in Michigan Says:

    HeyItsAdam: Dalvin Cook had 5 fumbles last year. So yes, he does have the same problem.

  27. webster Says:

    Anyone crying for the oft injured dalvin cook and the bucs already won a superbowl with rojo and howard is an idiot

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    No question in my mind that RoJo (in his 4th year) has a fumbling problem (6 fumbles in 391 career rushes plus 66 catches is 1 fumble every 76 touches). Not that sterling.

    Bernard (in his 9th year) has only 7 fumbles in 921 career rushes plus 344 catches, equating to 1 fumble every 181 touches. Much better.

    Fournette (in his 5th year) in comparison has only 3 fumbles in 772 career rushes plus 175 catches, equating to 1 fumble every 316 touches. Better still.

    And then there’s poor Ke’shawn. He’s actually only been tagged for 1 fumble, but with only 26 career rushes and 5 receptions that 1 fumble every 31 times he touches the ball.

    As bad as that sounds, it’s just stats (limited stats at that). Kinda like OJ Howard. OJ’s caught 105 balls in his 5 years here, and fumbled 4 times for an average of 1 fumble every 26 touches. Ke’shawn & RoJo are looking better & better huh.

  29. BT Says:

    Wirfs was blocking Lawrence on this play and let him get to the ball. It wasn’t all on RoJo.

  30. Rod Munch Says:

    You know how had a fumbling ‘problem’ — Mike Alstott.

    If this message board was around back them all you dopes would have been calling him a bust, overrated and demanded that he but cut.

    You’re all over dramatic drama queens who have the mental stability of a 17-year old on her period.

    Rojo doesn’t have a ‘fumbling’ problem – the ball got knocked out. A problem is when you’re careless with the ball – he was not careless with the ball last night.

    What is annoying is Arians making it worse by saying Rojo is a basketcase — unless that is true, and if it’s true, then cut him. But it’s not, Arians just can’t stand fumbles and so he benched him. Again, many coaches do that, and I personally think it’s stupid to punish a player because the defense made a good play. If Rojo did something wrong, then sure, punish away — but defenders are paid to make plays too.

  31. BucEmUp Says:

    last year he fumbled and then he came back into the game the next series and tore it up.


  32. firethecannons Says:

    Rod Munch says
    You’re all over dramatic drama queens who have the mental stability of a 17-year old on her period.

    Goddam dude you are funny! Lol!
    I agree with your comment about Arians — he is inappropriate–he needs to stf up sometimes

  33. Wild Bill Says:

    I thought Lenny looked slow on his only try around the left end. He did fairly well on a couple quick hitters straight ahead. Caused an interception bungling a pass. All the starters needed more preseason reps. Even Wirfs got shoved back into Brady’s lap. Hope they shed some rust and have their asses kicked into game shape before the next game.

  34. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I can tell how old I am by this topic. Back when I was playing football with the Flintstones the coaches always taught us to secure the football when contact was looming, especially going through the line with power.

    We were taught to use both hands in that situation…both arms wrapped around the ball…covering it while your hands secured the ends. That obviously cuts down mobility but when diving through the line with everybody punching at it….like I said I played with Fred and Barny.

  35. Bucsfanman Says:

    If it’s true that he was “in his head”, that shows a lack of toughness. IMO, that’s NOT the type of player we want on this football team.
    I figured BA just benched him. I wasn’t a fan considering how well he was running to that point if this was the case.

  36. mark2001 Says:

    stpete…while you were playing with Fred and Barney, I was trying to play with Wilma and Betty.

  37. Dlavid Says:

    A bunch of sloppy ass play all around last night ! Out three veteran hired guns came through completely ! Brady , Gronk & Brown ! The secondary ….. goodness ! Brady makes this team a winner ! He is the BOSS! I was not thrilled when the Bucs picked him up 2020 but it has proven to be solid gold!

  38. Wild Bill Says:

    Forgot to mention Mickens. Some strong returns last night.

  39. PassingThru Says:


    Yeah I know, we ran the Power I and within that formation I mostly lined up as a split-end. Receiving was secondary, that formation is all about blocking and running the ball. Ball protection was everything, you cover both ends of the ball with crossed arms brought close to your chest. We also spent countless hours in the weight room building that arm and forearm strength. You cannot run as fast that way, but when done properly it is almost impossible to have the ball punched out, or have it dislodged when a defender pulls your arm.

    Ball security is everything, I don’t see how someone can make excuses for a ball being punched out.

  40. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Joe In Michigan

    The difference is Dalvin Cook is actually good

  41. crazybucs_CL Says:

    never liked him…

  42. Karma Says:

    How was it not a penalty when Lavonte David took his helmet off and slammed it into the ground in frustration of missing an interception?

    It happened while he was in the filed of play, in the middle of the field no less…Unless I am not understanding how the unsportsmanlike penalty is enforced.

  43. BigMacAttack Says:

    What a bunch of whiny bishes. First game and a W, and it’s full blown panicking, psychologist, cut em loose. Do any of you think about what you’re going to say before you say it? And who cares about Dalvin Cook? Get over it dude. Sometimes this site is just all ate up with the dumba$$. Everyone here is a GM though and I often forget that 😂.
    Go Bucs

  44. Marine Buc Says:

    Typical. These guys are such fragile snowflakes.

    Can you imagine John Riggins crying after a fumble?

  45. gotbbucs Says:

    This is just another case of Arians not knowing when to shut up. He’s notorious for saying way too much to the media.

    Maybe it’s in Ronald Jones head because history has proven that if he does any little thing deemed wrong he’s benched for the rest of the game, meanwhile Fournette is bouncing balls off the top of his helmet and into the hands of defenders and doesn’t loose a touch the rest of the game.

    Arians always has to have a player in the dog house, always.

    On a side note, did anybody else see how many times Brady had to violently shake off Leftwich’s calls last night? I’ve never seen that in my life in an NFL game. Where’s the story on that Joe, or are we still being led to believe that Leftwich has any clue what he’s doing out there?

  46. Marine Buc Says:

    @ gotbucs

    I also noticed Brady shaking off Leftwhich’s calls from the sideline. He looked like an MLB pitcher shaking off poor pitch calls.

    That was very interesting… I wonder how many times Brady just called his own plays last night.

  47. JimmyJack Says:

    Worth noting that Arians is a former RB coach. And has also done quite well handling all different types of attitudes.

    So yeah, does he treat Lenny and RoJo differently? Looks like it…….And they both have 2 very different mindsets.

    I bet most coaches out there wouldnotbe able to handle Lenny last year without big problems but whatever Arians did worked great and we were rewarded when ot mattered. Trust this guy knows whats hes doing here…..Hes pretty much earned that.

    Some of yall saying Arians dont know what hes doing. Do you even realuze how dump that sounds?

  48. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Four years in the NFL and he’s still having a problem getting over a fumble??? Fournette messed up more than he did, turning a sure fire reception into an interception yet he kept on and made an incredible reception near the end. Sure he sulked last year but showed up in the playoffs. ROJO is a better runner than Fournette but not a better football player. Cut bait and move on

  49. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Rojo thought he was running the ball in a underwear football scrimmage. He did not have the rock tucked, and as soon as he hit the line of scrimmage he should have covered up.

  50. Rod Munch Says:

    firethecannons – I do my best.

  51. teacherman777 Says:

    Trade OJ Howard and Rojo and a 1st round pick for Stephon Gilmore.

    We need a legit shutdown CB to win the next two Super Bowls.

    Stephon Gilmore #1 CB
    Carlton Davis #2 CB
    Jamel Dean #3 CB
    Murphy Bunting #4 CB

  52. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    I’m with Bunch and Munch and calling BS on BA! Rojo was benched plain and simple. In a fair world, Lenny and Godwin should have been sitting right next to him.

  53. BerrickDrooks Says:

    he’s not getting re-signed. Maybe we pick up a RB in the draft.

  54. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Give the kid the rock. He’s the best back on the team.

  55. webster Says:

    Lord we have idiots talking brady was shaking off BL calls. No one saw that but you so take your alternative facts some where else.

  56. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    I’m with you..



    June 14th, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Sidebar Joe

    Do you think the Bucs should trade for
    All-Pro CB Stephon Gilmore?

    His new team will only be on the hook for $7.4M this season. I’m sure Jason can restructure someones contract (converted to bonus money).

    I say its a win win

    To shutdown corners on the outside. Plus improved debt at the position.

  57. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    What’s good Bredren!

  58. Rod Munch Says:

    If Arians is going to put Rojo in the dog house, then I have an idea. Trade him to the Colts for Marlon Mack.

    Mack would fit nicely into the offense, he can catch better than Fournette, and is a bit more of a finesse runner.

    To be clear, I’d still keep Rojo, with as much as I personally like Mack, he’s coming off a big injury. However if you’re going to play games with Rojo anyways — then maybe try something else.

    From the Colts standpoint, they’d be getting the better player for a #3 RB they’re not going to use much, and Rojo probably fits their offense better than Mack.

    Just an idea. Again, not saying to do it, but if you’re just going to ruin Rojo anyways with head games, then just ship him out and get something that is better than Vaughn.

  59. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    “You know who had a fumbling ‘problem’ — Mike Alstott.”

    In this “sound bite”, “video game” speed era it is hard to compare eras.

    For those who have been fans long enough to have observed, let us see if we can compare. How did Alstott’s coaches handle him? How did the pundits and fans react then? How will BA and Goodwin handle Rojo now? Who is right among the commenters now?

  60. Buczilla Says:

    Our running game was pathetic last night and unless it improves dramatically, I’m hoping that all of them are gone this time next year. Dallas’s defense played their butts off, but our backs were downright putrid.

  61. Rod Munch Says:

    JimbobBucsFan – The pundits on TV talked every week about how Alstott is doing too much, he’s going to have to try and do less or he’s going to always have fumbling issues.

    They were wrong. He just worked on ball security, and over time, the rep of fumbling went away – however his running style did not change.

    Also with Alstott, his fumbles never cost the Bucs a game that I remember, it’s not like Adam Humphries fumbling at the Bucs 20 with 2 mins left in the game to lose it.

  62. Natural Selection Says:

    Bruce openly admitted to benching RoJo. Said Jones was running the football well before the fumble. That he hadn’t lost confidence in him overall, but didn’t like how he responded on the sideline after. Mentioned the tight game situation influenced the decision to give Lenny the rest of the work.

    I don’t get you RoJo true believers, but I guess you need somewhere to focus your anger other than Ronald. Bruce constantly builds him up in media sessions. Gives him chance after chance. Even though Jones still can’t catch and blows protections way more often than Lenny. Two things that are completely in Ronald’s control to improve on steadily. All he provides as a positive is running the football, but he can’t do that securely. So we can’t even rely on his one strength.

    I didn’t want to see RoJo back on that field, and I won’t if he lays it down again in the next few weeks. I’d have liked to see Gio get regular down work. That’s what I will want if Jones can’t hold onto the football. I’m not here to make sure RoJo gets EVERY opportunity to become a functional NFL player. So if Ronald is feeling sorry for himself, I damn sure don’t want to put his redemption above our chances of winning a close game.

  63. Rod Munch Says:

    Buczilla – It’s 2021, you don’t need to run the ball.

    Pass the ball first, put up 35 points in the first half, then you can run the ball to meet your 1954 coaches manual that says you must have at least xx rushing attempts per game.

    However they were running the ball early, but after the Rojo and Fournette plays, they went away from it — thankfully. With this team you pass to open up the run, which will happen if the Bucs aren’t so insanely predictable early in games.

  64. Rod Munch Says:

    Natural Selection – Rojo had 1000 yards at a 5.1 average on just 42% of the snaps. Bump that up to a lead back, which will get around 70-75% of snaps, and that’s a 1600-1800 yard rusher. That’s why people like him. No issues with a 3rd down back because he can’t catch at all, but neither could Adrian Peterson.

  65. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    Lock him in his safe space already. Sick of this.

  66. Irishmist Says:

    You’d curl up in a fetal position too if you got punched in the ball.

  67. Natural Selection Says:

    He was the “lead back” for much of last year. Would have gotten closer to those rush totals if he was available for 16 games. Wasn’t just a rotation issue. It also was impacted by the same ball security issue that got him benched yesterday. As well as getting Tom hit/hurried by blowing blitz protections multiple times. It’s not just that he can’t catch. That in combination with not blocking effectively makes him a liability to have on the field when passing. Remains to be seen if he’s finally taking real steps forward there. I watch games around the league and don’t see him as special. Most teams have a back or two with similar or better running ability. To even mention him with Peterson is illustrative of the delusion I think has set in with some.

    We have seen Bruce put Jones back in after fumbling (or other mistakes that had him visibly down) in other games. Some of those Ronald has come back in with fire and played well. I just don’t understand lashing out at Bruce like it’s some conspiracy to keep Ronald down. Bruce has shown RoJo a lot of patience imo and still went out of his way today to soften his benching.

  68. August 1976 Buc Says:

    Agree with you Natural, you are making fair points. I and was glad ROJO stayed on the bench. All the talk about last year and why this and why that, and how he is so much better than Fournette.

    But it is never just about actual ability, it is about TRUST.

    ROJO was not featured in the playoffs because BRADY and the BA flat out did not trust his ball security and MOST importantly do not miss assignments and let the Brady get hit.

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  69. HeyItsAdam Says:

    Dear WEBSTER & Joe In Michigan:

    ❗️ After which of Cook’s 5 fumbles last year, did he have to come out of the game because he was emotionally distraught?

    ❗️Cook has played in more NFL games total than OJ Howard so if availability is a concern of yours, OJ should have been gone seasons ago.

    🛑 I don’t care if another player fumbled or had a fumbling issue in his career. Alstott never went to the bench with emotional issues after a fumble. This isn’t about hands… it’s about heart.

  70. gotbbucs Says:

    Apologies, didn’t see your story on the “no, no” call.

  71. Kgh4life Says:

    Rojo is the more talented runner,however, he’s not dependable. It’s a long season, so there’s time to improve.

  72. PassingThru Says:

    As I stated elsewhere, you do not want Gilmore. He is still injured, he’s on the wrong side of 30, he wants a massive new contract, and there’s an excellent chance that he won’t be the same player he was two years ago.

  73. mark2001 Says:

    Karma…that concerned me a little, too. Of course, it was because he might of Intercepted that pass and killed that drive, or if he hadn’t touched it Edwards was in prime position to intercept it. The action wasn’t directed at the other team or an official. And maybe they didn’t see it. But really, it was that kind of a night, wasn’t it?

  74. PassingThru Says:

    You need to look for CBs who are on cheap contracts, presumably on the last year of a rookie contract, who for whatever reason don’t fit into the long-term plans of their current team. I’m sure there are other situations, but that’s a good place to start.

  75. David Says:

    I don’t buy it. For some reason Lenny can have an easy pass go through his hands and cost them an interception and he stays on the field.
    The moment Rojo fumbles he disappears, BA benches him, just like last year.

  76. Buxszntkt Says:

    Joe’s post on Sept. 7 per TB12:
    “The intensity gets ramped up. The competition gets ramped up and it really weeds the people out. It weeds the weak-minded out. It weeds the physically weak out,” Brady said.
    RoJo has to show more confidence all the time.

  77. Joe in Michigan Says:

    HeyItsAdam Says:
    September 10th, 2021 at 8:02 pm
    ❗️Cook has played in more NFL games total than OJ Howard so if availability is a concern of yours, OJ should have been gone seasons ago.

    Dalvin Cook has missed 21 games in 4 years. OJ Howard has missed 22 games in 4 years. One more game. Neither of them are very durable.

  78. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    ROJO holds the record for the longest run in Buc history and likely may forever. ROJO is the deep threat out of all Buc RB’s. BA is blowing smoke with this BS about his mental state. Zip your Lip BA.

  79. Goodbuc'nlife Says:

    @SOEBUC….great point. He’s a better back. He will be on top at years end. Guaranteed. More natural runner and more explosive. Lenny just gets paid more. When I realized Lenny got the first series I immediately though dollars.

  80. HeyItsAdam Says:

    So J0e in Michigan posts to show my post was correct.

    Thank you.