There’s no doubt that the Buccaneers have had a lot of success so far on offense and most of it has been predicated on throwing the football. Starting with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick being thrust into the starting role the first two games and throwing for 400 plus yards and four touchdowns in both wins, the Bucs passing game has been on point.
Even with the return of Jameis Winston to the starting lineup the last two weeks, the Bucs continue to rack up the yards and touchdowns. Even though Winston did not have a touchdown pass last week, the Buccaneers did get in the end zone three times in the 26 – 23 win over the Browns.
So you cannot argue through six games with the Bucs having success on offense. However, if there is a glaring weakness? It is their running game.
Third-year undrafted back Peyton Barber is solid but not spectacular. And even though he had a good game in Atlanta with 82 yards rushing and a receiving touchdown, his touches and his yards have been largely underwhelming this season.
Enter rookie second round draft pick Ronald Jones from USC. Jones, who scored his first NFL touchdown (above) in the second half of the win over Cleveland last week, and saw more significant playing time as the second half and overtime more on. This is in part because Barber had injured his ankle in the third quarter of the game Sunday.
Barber was unable to practice on Wednesday, which is another indication that we may be about to see more of the explosive Jones when the Bucs travel to Cincinnati this week.
It hasn’t all been positive for the guy they call “RoJo,” as he was a healthy inactive for the first three games of the season in favor of rookie free agent running back Shaun Wilson. It was largely because the Buccaneers did not trust him enough to pass block and fully know coach Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken’s Playbook.
Also, Koetter has talked since the preseason about Jones being more decisive on his initial cut or move to get into a hole or a crease quickly. This is critical in the NFL, as opposed to running the ball in the Pac-12, where the holes are bigger and stay open longer.
Jones also has to work on his ability to catch the football and he did have one catch for 15 yards against the Browns last week.
Depending on the severity of Barbers injury, it will probably still be a mix of he, veteran Jacquizz Rodgers and Jones this weekend in the short-term.
However, the more Jones shows the potential that the Bucs drafted him for, the more he’s going to see the football moving forward.
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