09/11/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/11/2019 09:29
If you tuned into Sunday afternoon's slop-fest between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers odds are at some point you squinted at the screen, wondering who was this new guy wearing No. 27 ripping off runs?
It's the same as the man who wore it last year, just an upgraded model.
Ronald Jones looked nothing like the hesitant, slow, discombobulated runner we saw during his rookie campaign. Sunday, he was quick to the hole, decisive, planted and blazed through arm tackles like they were sticks in a forest.
After looking like a plodding donkey for all of 2018, Jones flashed the galloping fortitude of a mustang, the traits that made him a second-round pick out of USC.
Like a caterpillar who needed an entire rookie season in a cocoon, Jones emerged in Week 1 as a soaring butterfly. It took a half for that larva to soar. Through two quarters Jones looked like the same player tethered to the ground by slime, earning just 7 yards on four carries, including two totes that went for -1 yard each.
Then in the second half: Flight. Jones ripped off chunk after chunk, including gashes of 11, 11, 9, 7, 9 and 16 yards.
'I don't know if [his hand] could've gotten any hotter unless he [would have] run through the last one and scored a couple times,' coach Bruce Arians said of Jones' performance on Sunday, via the team's official website. 'But he was very decisive and there were a lot of holes for him to be decisive in. He was running through arm tackles and that's exactly what I expected out of him.'
Jones thrashed the 49ers defense for 75 yards on 13 carries (5.8 average) which easily surpassed his entire 2018 campaign: 44 yards on 23 totes (1.9), and one TD in nine games.
Arians spent the offseason praising Jones' improvement, but until that praise became tangible, visible production on Sunday the world remained suspect.
Starting with Thursday night's tilt against the Carolina Panthers -- airing on NFL Network -- we expect Jones to play a bigger role in the Bucs offense. Jones owns the natural talent to leapfrog starter Peyton Barber. The question with the younger back was consistency and production. He flashed both Sunday. If he can stack another performance, Arians will undoubtedly ride Jones.