If you’ve been following the Bucs for any length of time this off-season, it comes as no surprise that Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has the utmost faith in his running back group. In fact, he’s made a point to speak very highly on them despite the general consensus everywhere else that it’s lacking. SBNation goes as far as to name the Buccaneers RB core the worst in football.
It’s hard to dispute this if you don’t know who the players are like Bucs fans do and being abysmal on the ground in 2018 did absolutely no one justice. Especially, not Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II.
Ronald Jones had possibly one of the most horrifically unforgettable rookie seasons of any running back coming into the league with 44 yards on 23 carries(1.9 YDC) on the season (yeah, you read that right) and a TD. Jones’s longest run? 9 yards.
Barber, however, did much better on paper than play tape averaging 3.7 YPC with 871 yards(19th ranked among all RBs) on 234 attempts with 5 TD’s(tied for 24th overall). It isn’t great, but it’s not bad. You would expect more out of the guy that stole the starting role from Doug Martin just a few years ago. He’ll be looking to prove his worth after inking his 1-year deal earlier in the year.
Those are our 1-2 punch guys. No coaching staff is sweating game-planning those kinds of numbers.
It should come as no shock that everyone from fans to experts said that the Bucs running game needed to be upgraded drastically – especially, with the best passing offense in the NFL. So, Bruce Arians got with Jason Licht and added Andre Ellington, who was questionable as far as health was concerned. Much to the collective “meh” of fans if they even knew who he was.
Still, the critics (see: fans) said the Bucs needed more help in the run game. But, as I said above, Bruce Arians disagrees.
He went on to give very decent praise to them. Not just Jones and Barber, either. Wilson, Ellington, and Ogunbawle were given credit as well:
“I am fine with what we have. I think Peyton came in at 229 and looked fantastic. Is he going to hit home runs 70 yards? Probably not, but he’s going to pound people, and that’s what we like. Because that sets up the play exit pass, I’m really anxious to see Ronald Jones. He progressed so much through the spring. He looks in great shape, and I think he’s hungry. He told me Todd McNair’s done a great job with both of those guys. Andre Ellington is healthy for the first time and he adds a little something different. I’m fine with those guys. I think for what we like doing, I think Rojo can be really explosive, and I think Peyton is gonna be really steady. They’re good pass blockers. Dare is in that mix too, physical and a really good route runner.”
For those who wanted a new running back or new offensive line are sorely disappointed for another season. Perhaps the new coaching is the fix to the issues. Here’s to hoping.