Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines a run from Ronald Jones’ preseason game against the Buccaneers and explains why more patience is needed for the second-year running back.
Ronald Jones has been one of the significant storylines from the NFL preseason. He’s added weight, cut down on mistakes, and he’s playing with greater decisiveness than seen last year when he didn’t meet lofty expectations to immediately unseat Peyton Barber for the starting job.
Jones’ preseason tape is better than last year, but as Tampa running back coach Todd McNair has indicated, Jones remains a work in progress. Jones’ added strength has shown up well on tape and he’s catching the ball better.
The place where Jones must excel to overtake Peyton Barber is between the tackles. This is where Jones’ performance is up and down. Here’s an example where Jones could have done a better job to set up his blocks and turn a 10-yard gain into a potential 1-on-1 with a safety in the open field. Instead, Jones’ lack of patience squanders a strategic success and a big play into an athletic display of play-ending push for 10 yards.
It’s a good outcome but the process still needs work.
Jones will produce this year because of his speed, his hands, and his new-found power. However, he’s still too often a straight-linish back who doesn’t understand how to use his footwork and change of direction to set up blocks. He must trust his blockers more and when he does, bigger and more consistent gains will come.
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