As we all know, Tampa Bay’s running game had been abysmal for the last two years. Doug Martin, the starting Running Back for the most part of last season, barely made it over the 400 yard mark, as he rushed for 406 yards on 138 carries. That resulted in an inexcusable average of only 2.9 yards per carry and he added only 3 Touchdowns. His numbers from the 2016 season are unbelievably similar (421 yards, 2.9 yards per carry, 3 Touchdowns).
Jenna Laine, ESPN Buccaneers reporter, recently published an interesting, yet highly concerning, read about Tampa Bay’s running game. See article here
“The Bucs were the only team in the NFL last year that did not produce an explosive rushing touchdown, with “explosive” defined as a rushing play of 12 yards or more. In fact, with Doug Martin, Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Barber and Charles Sims, the Bucs had one explosive rushing touchdown in the past two years, the fewest of any team in the league.” – via Jenna Laine, ESPN
Granted, Martin is not the only player to blame for this terrible output, but those numbers should definitely serve as a warning sign.
The Bucs‘ front office obviously received this message, as it decided to use a valuable second round pick in the draft on Running Back Ronald Jones out of Southern California. Laine also gave a prediction for Jones this year, as she predicts the following stats for him: 972 yards rushing; 4 rushing TDs; 35 receptions; 281 yards receiving; 1 receiving TDs
This would not be too bad. Beyond that, she provided further information about Ronald Jones,
“The Bucs believe they have found the home run threat in Jones that they had lacked over the past two years… Jones’ 19 rushing touchdowns in 2017 were tied for fifth most in college football. Jones had 39 rushing touchdowns in 40 career games at Southern California, with 18 of them coming off explosive plays. “You can see the guy has got juice,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “When he touches the ball, he’s got a gear that we don’t have on our team right now.” Barber started four games for the Bucs last year, so he also will challenge for a starting role, while Rodgers and Sims will battle for the third-down job.” – via Jenna Laine, ESPN
Hopefully the “juice” Koetter sees in the newly acquired Running Back, will translate to big running plays when it counts. However, without a doubt, Ronald Jones seems to be a ball carrier Bucs fans can finally be ecstatic about again.