Ronald Jones a force as a pass catcher, but lets opportunity slip away
Eduardo Encina, Tampa Bay Times, published 11 November 2019

Ronald Jones had his most productive day as a pro in the Bucs' 30-27 win over the Cardinals Sunday. After the game, his emotions ranged from grateful to despondent.

Making his second NFL start, Jones led the Bucs with eight receptions for 77 yards. He scored Tampa Bay's first touchdown on the ground, but all he could think about was his fourth-quarter fumble that nearly cost the Bucs the game. Jones had supplanted Peyton Barber as the team's starting tailback, and coach Bruce Arians predicted his role would continue to increase.

On Sunday, he showcases his pass-catching abilities, something that hindered his playing time during a disappointing rookie season. He caught every ball thrown his way. He averaged 9.6 yards a catch. He caught four screen passes for a team-high 55 yards in the first half. But his final catch of the day, another screen pass that would have likely been for a first down, slipped out of his hands at the Tampa Bay 43-yard line.

"It's good, good to be involved," Jones said. "But ball security is No. 1. Thank God for my teammates and the talent in this room, we were able to get the win still. But I've got to be better."

Jones didn't play again after the fumble, watching from the sidelines as Peyton Barber's 1-yard touchdown run capped the game-clinching drive following rookie Jamel Dean's interception.

"RoJo, he's still a work in progress," Arians said. "He made a great run for the touchdown. He's out there catching balls and making people miss and then he still misses a blitz pickup that he shouldn't miss. We get a penalty because he's running a screen when he's supposed to be picking up a blitzer. So he's still a work in progress, but it's still a hell of a good work."

Jones received a career-high 18 carries for 67 yards in his first career NFL start last week in Seattle. He entered Sunday with just eight catches on the season. Jones said he didn't expect to see many balls thrown his way, but Cardinals were giving the Bucs space in the flat. In their first eight games, Bucs running backs averaged just 4.25 receptions a game, and 18 of the 34 catches went to Dare Ogunbowale, the team's primary third-down pass-catching back.

The new Bucs coaching staff loves Jones. His teammates also see how good he can be. "I told him ‘RoJo, we have your back. I make a lot of mistakes, but you don't see me hanging my head,'" quarterback Jameis Winston said. "You will make a big play for us.' He has been making big plays for us this whole year. It was big for him to be resilient."