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Arians: No carries for Ronald Jones if he 'can’t protect the quarterback’

The Bucs running back was benched Sunday after missing a blitz pickup assignment.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians was emphatic again Monday about running back Ronald Jones' responsibilities as a pass blocker. [PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  AP]
Bucs coach Bruce Arians was emphatic again Monday about running back Ronald Jones' responsibilities as a pass blocker. [PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP]
Published Dec. 2

TAMPA — Ronald Jones has made major strides as a pass blocker this season, but his costly whiff on blitzing Jacksonville defender led to the Bucs’ only turnover Sunday and landed Jones on the bench.

On Monday, Bucs coach Bruce Arians made it clear that mistakes like that 13 weeks into the season will send Jones to the sideline.

It might seem abrupt, especially given how the Bucs coaching staff loves Jones’ potential and lauded his improvements as not only as a rusher, but also as a pass catcher and a blocker.

“He works his ass off, and he’s going to get better at it,” Arians said. “But we need him running the football. But you can’t run the football if you can’t protect the quarterback.”

Jones scored touchdowns in three of the previous four games and began to cement his role as the team’s primary running back. Against a Jaguars defense that had yielded more than 200 yards a game, Jones was projected to have his best of the season.

He netted a season-low eight yards on six carries and was lifted after quarterback Jameis Winston was sacked and lost the fumble.

According to Arians, Jones missed a blocking assignment switch. And on the play, it’s clear that Jones was confused, looking to provide blocking help to his left while an untouched blitzer closed in on Winston from the right.

The Jaguars blitzed often on Sunday, and Winston was sacked four times and hit seven other times.

“That was a big (play),” Arians said. “We had the game in hand. It was something that had been switched. They were going to block something because of the blitzes. He went to block the guy he used to block. That wasn’t the plan.”

Peyton Barber took Jones’ carries in the second half and was the team’s leading rusher with 44 yards on 17 carries, but take away his 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Barber averaged just 1.8 yards a carry.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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Sports Day Tampa Bay: Bucs-Jaguars rewind


  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is injured after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    ESPN reports a hamstring injury will sideline the receiver. How will his absence impact the offense?
  2. In Sunday's win, Jameis Winston finished with four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, three interceptions and more than 400 passing yards. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to hit those marks in a single game. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  Associated Press]
    We’re talking about Tampa Bay’s grit and resilience but overlooking the reason why it fell behind in the first place: the quarterback.
  3. Quarterback Jameis Winston (3) reaches across the goal line for a touchdown during the first half of the Bucs' 38-35 win over Indianapolis Sunday in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Linebacker Lavonte David lit into teammates at halftime Sunday and the Bucs rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit.
  4. Bucs receiver Mike Evans signs a Texas A&M jersey during his charity bowling event in Tampa on Monday night. Proceeds go to the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which provides college scholarships to low-income students. [EDUARDO ENCINA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    In it’s first year of existence, the Mike Evans Family Foundation has helped send low-income students to college.
  5. The Eagles and Carson Wentz, above, overcome the Giants and Eli Manning for a home victory. [MICHAEL PEREZ  |  AP]
    Philadelphia scores the game’s final 20 points, ties Dallas for first in the NFC East.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) sustains an injury while scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts defense during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Both players were injured in the Bucs’ home win against the Colts.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) celebrates as he runs off the field after an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio) [MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP]
    The Bucs quarterback was examined by a hand specialist Monday as a precaution.
  8. The sight of Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston throwing a pass has been equal parts disaster and joy for opponents and Tampa Bay fans. Winston is second in the NFL in passing yards (with a team record 4,115) and is first in interceptions (with a career high 23). [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    John Romano’s Gimme 5 | Winston’s boom-or-bust season, Ryan Griffin’s passing debut and a special thank you to Hall of Famer John Elway.
  9. Plus, Vikings stay relevant, don’t count out the Patriots and a playoff spot for losers? All on the road to Miami Gardens
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Justin Watson (17) celebrates scoring a touchdown during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    John Romano | After a 2-6 start, the Bucs are on a hot streak. Is it enough to convince you they’re for real?