Can Jones change minds in his second season?

by Gary Shelton on July 18, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Bucs

Jones had a poor first season for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 4 a.m.

I believe in Mike Evans.

True, he's going to drop some passes. True, he lacks the burner speed you'd like. True, some balls will bounce off of his hands for interceptions.

But by and large, I believe in Evans. I think he'll turn third downs in first downs. I believe he will score a few touchdowns. I believe that when the game is on the line, that's where I'm throwing.

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I believe in Lavonte David.

True, he gets lost in coverage sometimes. True, he can miss the occasional tackle. True, there are times you wish he had a lot more help.

But by and large, I believe in David. I believe he'll be a tackling machine. I believe he'll come up with a few turnovers. I believe he'll fight the good fight.

I believe in Chris Godwin.

True, he hasn't played nearly enough. True, he needs a little better stamina. True, he needs to make you forget about DeSean Jackson's perpetual pout.

But by and large, I believe in Godwin. I believe he'll be a better downfield threat than most think. I believe the Bucs' offense will be just fine with him as the "other" receiver. I believe he's good for 800 yards.

I believe in Godwin.

And so it goes. You can make a checklist of the Bucs' players you believe in, and those you don't. Take Jameis Winston, the perfect argument. Take Peyton Barber. Take Vita Vea.

Then there is Ronald Jones.

I don't believe in Ronald Jones.

Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so. But I didn't see one down in one game last year that inspires me to believe that Jones is anything but an empty jersey.He carried 23 times, and he gained 44 yards, and he averaged 1.9 yards per carry. Your average car salesman could have performed better. He was a second-rounder who played like an undrafted free agent. He gained 44 yards on the season, and he had 29 of those in his first game.

Yet, new Bucs' coach Bruce Arians has talked up Jones this off-season as if he truly has something to give, as if the world had better brace for a brand new back.

“Confidence is definitely key because if you don’t believe in yourself, that you have the ability, these guys, they’re going to show you up,” Jones said. “These are the best players in the world so when you know what you’re doing, you can just react and not have to think, and I think that’s what I’m doing this year. Just reacting and playing ball. I’m not asking myself, ‘Is this zone, is this man? Do I break out, do I break in?’”

Bucs' quarterback Jameis Winston sounds convinced.

“I would say RoJo has been showing out,” Winston said recently. “His confidence, his comfort, RoJo’s a smart guy. He’s getting comfortable in this offense. No one is breathing down his neck. He’s more relaxed and executing at a high level.”

The thing is, though, that you have to ask where all of his flash was  a year ago. Look, most first-year busts don't turn into second-year stars. Remember Roberto Aguayo? Remember Gaines Adams?

I know, I know. Rookies don't always get the time -- or the trust -- to make a dent in their first seasons. But in this league, there is such a thing as flash. If Jones had the same paltry average, but he had broken a couple of 20 yard gains, it would be easier to buy in. But he didn't.

This is the thing about the Bucs. Except for a precious few players, you need to see production. From Vernon Hargreaves. From Noah Spence. From everyone.

Other wise, the Bucs are just spinning their wheels.




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