TAMPA — Ronald Jones has had a good year toting the football, but he couldn’t run from his mistake in pass protection that got him benched last Sunday.
Jones failed to block Jaguars cornerback D.J. Hayden on a delayed blitz from the right side in the third quarter, a mistake that eventually resulted in a sack by Andrew Wingard, who forced quarterback Jameis Winston to fumble on the play.
Jones did not play anymore in the Bucs’ 28-11 win over Jacksonville and finished with only eight yards on six carries.
The second-year running back from Southern Cal has started five games and leads the team in rushing with 482 yards and five touchdowns (3.9 average).
“It was a little wrinkle we had in the game plan and just being on my P’s and Q’s,'' Jones said Wednesday. "It’s hard to explain, but basically you just got to know at the time whether it’s going to be called and we’re making that check or not making that check.
“It just happens like that sometimes, but you can’t afford it. Because like you said, it’s December football so that’s going to make or break the season.''
Like other Bucs rookies, Jones has re-committed to studying the playbook this week. It’s not dissimilar to what rookie cornerback Jamel Dean did after giving up three touchdown passes in his first start at Seattle.
“Just get back on my film, put in some extra time and get on the same page with Jameis and everybody,'' Jones said. "I just got to keep it going. I don’t want to take any steps backward. Definitely just trying to keep on that path.''
Winston says Jones shares only some of the responsibility for the missed block.
“Every week, we all make mistakes and we’re going to continue to get better,'' Winston said. "We’re going to build on the positives and eliminate the negatives. That comes with me and him working, that comes with him putting in extra time after practice. But he has been an excellent player for us this year. We want to keep his confidence, him doing what he does and we’re going to fix that. We’re going to fix that collectively because everyone has their hand in at, it’s not just on him.’’
Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Jones had been improving in pass protection until Sunday’s setback.
“He works his ass off,” Arians said. "He’s gonna get better at it. We need him running the football. But you can’t run the football if you can’t protect the quarterback.”