Not a single 100-yard game yet
Are you one of the many fans that have the Bucs drafting a franchise tailback on their Christmas Wishlist? Then my comment on that would be, “What for? We already have one?” I know what you are probably thinking, and it’s probably something along the lines of, “Some franchise back, not a single one hundred yard game so far all season.” With logic like that, it’s hard to make much of a case for Jones being that guy. Bear with me, though, and hear me out.
The perfect storm for running game failure
First, keep in mind the offensive philosophy that has been in control for the last six to seven years would be the throw it, throw it, throw it again, fake a run, chunk it again, game plan. Following that line of thought, the few offensive linemen that were brought in over that span were players that were better pass blockers than they were at opening running lanes. The next ingredient to this invisible running game stew and this isn’t a knock on Winston – it just is what it is – Winston throws a lot of interceptions, no secret, which puts the offense in catch up mode quite often. Not much room for running the ball when you’re down a couple of touchdowns. Another point is that we really haven’t had a stud/franchise back since Carnell Williams or Warrick Dunn – you could also add a Doug Martin or Earnest Graham, Errict Rhett, Michael Pittman. Point is, it’s been a good while since we had good reason to run as a game plan.
Don’t talk about it, show me
There has been lip service paid to run the ball more. In all actuality for my definition of running the ball, you need 25-35 touches a game. I don’t mean that as a spread, between three backs and the quarterback, I’m talking about giving your RB1 at least 25 to 30 of those touches. A true franchise back, in my opinion, is one that gets stronger/better as he goes on. In Jones’s case, it isn’t only that, but speaking in terms of experience, this is really Jones’s rookie season. He’s not as good as he’s going to be. Game experience is the only thing that is going to help him develop and reach his potential. A better run blocking line would also help immensely.
Make no mistake about it, Jones is going to be a beast if he is allowed to do so. He’s the kind of runner that can bust it out and take it to the house from anywhere. If the Bucs were to go out and draft another high profile running back, we would still be in the same spot we are now with Jones. If Jones is given the environment to succeed at a high level, he has the skills to do so and to be that franchise guy we need. The answer isn’t drafting another back; it’s giving the one we have the commitment to succeed. Do that, and he will. Go Bucs!!