Arians benched Jones, was it justified?


Opinion Editorial

Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians never minces words. After the Buccaneers 28-11 win over the Jaguars was no different.

No Quarter

The Buccaneers have been using the running back tandem of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones all season. Arians is on record several times saying “whoever has the hot hand plays”. So when Arians was asked about Jones’ lack of playing time in the 2nd half you expected Arians to simply say ” Barber had the hot hand”. Well, he did say that, but he added something to it.

“Peyton had the hot hand, he was out there making plays and he did a better job in the blitz pickup. RoJo missed a blitz pickup and that’s it. You don’t get to play no more. It’s simple.”

When, Where And Why?

While Arians didn’t identify the play he was speaking of it’s quite obvious which one he was talking about. With a 25 point lead midway through the 3rd quarter Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston dropped back to pass. The Jaguars blitzed on the play and Jones failed to pick up his responsibility in protection. The play resulted in the Buccaneers’ only turnover. Jones did not see the field after that.

Yea, But…

Now I’m not going to pile on Jones too much. You do have to be able to pick up the blitz to be an RB in this league. The 2nd year back has shown vast improvement this year. Mistakes do happen and a coach holding players accountable is a refreshing change in Tampa Bay.

My issue with this is about consistency from the coaching staff. Players are going to make mistakes, we all know that. But it seems like a different set of parameters for different players. Dare Ogunbowale has made multiple mistakes in nearly every game, not benched. Jameis Winston makes mistakes in nearly every game, not benched. Vernon Hargreaves made mistakes in nearly every game, wait… bad example.

Double Standard? Nope!

That could be construed as a double standard right? Not so fast my friend. Ogunbowale is a 3rd string RB, there’s a reason for that. Winston has the ball on his hand every play, that increases the chance of mistakes. But Jones’ benching is a bit different. In a game where you are up by 25 in the 3rd quarter, you HAVE to know the other team is blitzing. You have to be aware that at this point in the game the defense’s only strategy is to force turnovers. That is why Arians benched Jones and he was right to do so. You can’t let your QB get pounded because you failed to do YOUR job. It’s inexcusable and Arians, you and I know it. Now Ronald Jones and the rest of the team knows it too.