Ronald Jones, Running Back Depth And The Pass Game

January 11th, 2022

RB Ronald Jones

Coaches generally don’t like to tip pitches.

(No, Joe isn’t going to use the easy one-liner here about the Bucs running up the middle on first downs.)

And that is a big reason why Ronald Jones had less carries than last year.

RoJo is a pretty good runner, almost more of a fullback. He’s damn good running inside. On pass plays, there’s one problem with RoJo: he struggles to catch.

Oh, Joe knows RoJo catches the ball here or there, but he’s just not a good receiver. He also rarely plays on passing downs because he cannot pass protect worth a s(p)it.

One of Mike Evans’ touchdown catches Sunday  was detailed on Twitter video by former NFL offensive lineman and current NFL Network talking head Brian Baldinger. He thought it was incredible the way the Stinking Panthers tried to play chess with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.

Baldinger noticed how Brady told Ke’Shawn Vaughn where to run and who to block on a blitz. Vaughn, while he didn’t stonewall the blitzer, sure slowed him down enough for Brady to get rid of the ball and into Evans’ hands. It’s a pretty cool breakdown.

Well, Joe got to thinking, if RoJo is in on the play (he was out with a bad ankle), no way RoJo makes that block. Brady is at least leveled and probably sacked. There wouldn’t be a touchdown.

With every play so critical in the playoffs, Joe wonders if RoJo will see the field on pass plays now that Vaughn has proven to be capable, Playoff Lenny is one of Brady’s favorite targets, and Le’Veon Bell can both block and catch. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for RoJo.

Problem with that is, when RoJo does take the field, unlike with Playoff Lenny, Vaughn and Bell, that’s a tip to the defense that a run is likely.

26 Responses to “Ronald Jones, Running Back Depth And The Pass Game”

  1. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Ron has had 4 years to improve his receiving and blocking “skills”, he’s still not adequate in those areas. Bell is.

  2. richbucsfan Says:

    Brady is the on-field coach. He truly is the GOAT

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Agree totally that RoJo can’t ‘pass protect worth a s(p)it’ & IMO THAT is why he’s riding the bench. RBs doing blitz pickups are the last line of defense to keep TB12 happy & healthy (and to keep the Bucs as contenders). Jeopardize that & playing time seems to go WAAAAY DOWN.

    But RoJo’s not as bad at pass catching as many make him out to be. He struggled with Brady last year (28 catches in 42 targets for 66.7% catch rate) but has done better this year (10 catches in 13 targets for 76.9%); he just hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities. With Winston in 2018 & 2019 RoJo caught 38 out of 49 for 77.6%, about the same as he’s doing this year. That’s not a real high percentage, but it’s not terrible either.

    In comparison, Fournette has a career average receiving of 78.4%. Bell has a career average of 79.5%. Bernard a career average receiving of 75.1%. RoJo’s numbers aren’t very much out-of-line with those; his problem receiving seems to be that he doesn’t pair well with Tom Brady. And that’s the kiss of death it seems.

  4. Bobby M. Says:

    Let’s be super clear…..blitz blocking is a mentality. Its a commitment to getting the job done regardless who’s in front of you. Vaughn is smaller in size then Rojo, yet he sticks his head in there and gets the job done. IMO….Rojo is done in Tampa. I think if Bell gets into game shape, we could bring him back next year to rotate with Vaughn and hopefully we keep Fournette around.

  5. Daryl Green Says:

    I Edited movies in Burbank Ca., when I read this article, I harken back too
    the movie “Traffic” when the girl first did H.
    The boy said “u see, Now u see.” Every time Ronald,
    Splits out wide or Tom Terrific throws the ball to him
    I lose my ish.

    Soft hands!!! Watch LB catch the ball.

  6. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Bobby, you are 100% correct it is a mind set. You have a blitzing defender coming in as fast as they can with all the leverage and a RB that is pretty much not moving, the RB has to take the brunt of the collision and it ain’t no fun. Rojo is a professional RB in the NFL, throughout his entire playing career as a RB he has had to block, he chooses not to It’s not that he can’t.

  7. Youngbucs Says:

    Vaughn gave up a sack on the first play of the game.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m confused……a couple of days ago the suggestion was to “ground & pound” because of our depleted WR corps… it’s sit our best RB in favor of pass protection……
    And,I watched that Vaughn block and fail to see how Rojo couldn’t make it.

  9. lambeau Says:

    RoJo is just dumb about who’s blitzing–he doesn’t see them coming.
    And he really can’t catch, no matter what the stats say.
    But if he could protect, he could play–Sony Michel never was thrown to when he played with Tom.

  10. THOMAS PFALZ Says:

    IMHO I would rather see Lenny, Bernard & Bell before Rojo or Vaughn. Rojo & Vaughn are not starting RB. The Bucs will probably draft a RB at some point in the draft. And speaking of the draft again CB should be a top priority.

  11. ModHairKen Says:

    Actually, you have to go back to game 16, 2019, and the pass by Jameis to Atlanta in OT, pick 6.

    If not for that play, Bucs don’t get that TB TD last week either.

  12. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Fournette is the obvious #1. Vaughn just needs more experience on game day. I think he can be a very good RB. Vaughn is fearless, and wants to be great. Rojo is fine as a change of pace back but not a #1. Rojo is like OJ at TE. He has some skills, but too inconsistent when it comes to football smarts and overall desire. Bell and Bernard are fine at what they do, but obviously not the future.

  13. Coburn Says:

    Youngvuxs nah that wasn’t on Vaughn. Brayd held on to long. He stopped the guy intiially and then his second or third effort is want got Brady. You don’t expect a running back to stand there and hold his guy up like an offensive lineman. Just stop their initial momentum

  14. Bird Says:

    We will be alright if lenny back …and rojo out in boot
    Vaughn is fine

    And leveon bell with his studder step. Plus his hands need to be involved moving forward. He wont take to house. But the dude is getting first downs
    Definitely no shady mccoy who was washed

  15. Dick LeBeau Jr. Says:

    It doesn’t matter if it is a tip or not. The other team’s job is to stop him. And from what we’ve seen, ,we know Rojo can take off and grab significant yards on any play. I think his abilities was wasted this year. Let the man run. He is a running back. You reward the man who damn near put up 1,000 yards by not using him. Use all of your weapons, especially when they give you an advantage.

  16. David Says:

    That breakdown is great.
    Watching the game I did not realize that a half second more and it’s probably a sack

  17. unbelievable Says:

    Meh, Vaughn isn’t much better at pass blocking than RoJo to be honest.

    He does have Better hand though. At the same time RoJo has been deadly on some of those swing passes too.

    If we’re being totally honest, many of s Brady’s throws to running backs this year have been off.

  18. rrsrq Says:

    2020 and 2019 – ROjO over 1000 yards from scrimmage. He must do a better job picking up blitzes, it wasn’t as evident when JW was there due to his better mobility than the GOAT, though the GOAT knows how to slide to the left, slide to the right…

  19. unbelievable Says:

    Tackleblockwin Says:
    January 11th, 2022 at 9:36 am
    Rojo is fine as a change of pace back but not a #1. Rojo is like OJ at TE.


    Dude RoJo has been 10x more effective and useful than OJ ever has. Lol.

  20. tampabayallday Says:

    Keep Vaughn and re sign Bell, maybe draft a better RB in the draft.

  21. SKBucsFan Says:

    An RB that can’t block and doesn’t catch well isn’t very useful in a passing league. Give Vaughn a chance. I do not want to see Licht waste another high pick on an running back. We have top many other needs. LB, DL, corner and WR come to mind. Maybe even safety depending on how free agency goes.

    But first: Let’s win the Superbowl again!

  22. bucschamp Says:

    Bell blocked that blitzing #7 guy in the 2nd q. it was a big play that led to a long pass to Mike Evans . he maybe our slowest RB but probably the best blocker in the RB lineup

  23. PassingThru Says:

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: RoJo is a poker tell whenever he’s in the game. You don’t want him in the backfield during passing plays. As Joe noted he is not a reliable passing target and he is life-threatening in terms of pass protection.

  24. Rod Munch Says:

    Rojo is not that bad of a blocker, you don’t assume he’s going to get ran over.

    Rojo is, however, a very good running back, just with no hands. If he goes to a team where they just ask him to run on 1st and 2nd, and feed him the ball, he’s going to have a lot of production. Take, for example, when Henry was injured, what if the Bucs and Titans make a trade for Rojo, drop him into that offense and people would be talking about how stupid the Bucs were for trading him.

    With that said, Rojo is a very poor match for this offense. He was also a poor match for Dirk’s offense. The pick never made any sense unless you’re going to be a power running team that doesn’t throw much to the RB.

  25. Tackleblockwin Says:

    unbelievable Says:
    January 11th, 2022 at 10:22 am
    Tackleblockwin Says:
    January 11th, 2022 at 9:36 am
    Rojo is fine as a change of pace back but not a #1. Rojo is like OJ at TE.


    Dude RoJo has been 10x more effective and useful than OJ ever has. Lol.

    Very true, but Rojo like OJ are still not #1’s. By now they should be, but they lack in football smarts.

  26. Eddie Marz Says:

    Great breakdown of that play. That’s one reason Brady’s the goat. Not every QB can do that. They see ghosts.GOBUCS!