General manager Jason Licht said Jones has impressed the new coaching staff more than any other player so far this spring, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
The 2018 second-round pick barely played as a rookie and struggled with his rare opportunities, but coach Bruce Arians made it clear Jones would have a chance to prove himself in a new system. While he could face more competition after the 2019 NFL Draft, the 21-year-old currently finds himself in an underwhelming backfield alongside Peyton Barber, Shaun Wilson, Andre Ellington and Dare Ogunbowale. The Buccaneers do seem to be fond of Barber, who managed just 3.7 yards per carry and 4.6 per catch as a 16-game starter in 2018, finishing with 963 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns on 616 snaps (254 touches).
It's hard to make a serious comparison between the two players, with Johnson at a clear advantage in nearly every aspect besides straight-line speed. To be fair, Jones didn't have much chance to succeed as a rookie second-round pick in 2018, seeing just 23 carries and nine targets in nine games behind a bad offensive line. While he still offers some promise as a big-play threat, the USC product hasn't displayed much aptitude in the passing game, which is a serious obstacle to earning playing time. Arians is hoping Jones can take advantage of a full, healthy offseason to develop some of those skills. Regardless of what happens with the Tampa Bay backfield this offseason, the 21-year-old Jones will enter training camp with a lot to prove.
For the final quarter of his rookie season, Jones earned only one touch on offense while being mostly relegated to a special-teams role. It amounts to a disappointing conclusion for Jones, who was expected to vie for the starting role when he was selected with a second-round pick back in April. Instead, Peyton Barber served as the top ballcarrier throughout the season while Jacquizz Rodgers handled much of the passing-down work, even though neither player was particularly efficient with his opportunities. The Buccaneers' overhaul of their coaching staff this offseason should give Jones a clean slate, but the 21-year-old will still need to impress in spring workouts, training camp and the preseason to secure a meaningful role heading into 2019.
Just another forgettable game for the rookie, who's seen his first year in the NFL become a total washout. Jones' sole touch Sunday was his only one of the past two games, and he logged a meager four snaps from scrimmage for the second straight week. With his primary usage coming on coverage units, Jones has next to no fantasy value in any format.
Jones saw only four snaps on offense in Sunday's 28-14 loss to the Saints but didn't log any touches.
The rookie's complete lack of involvement on offense speaks to his spot in the current pecking order. He does continue to put in time on return units, as he logged a total of 14 plays in that capacity Sunday. Given that veteran Jacquizz Rodgers has been a much more productive complementary option to starter Peyton Barber, Jones' fantasy outlook remains bleak.
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9||0||23||44||1.9||9||1||0||2|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9||0||7||33||4.7||15||0||0||0||2|
|2018||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|