Ronald Jones Has Tom Brady to Thank for His Breakout Growth

Lining up behind Tom Brady has likely helped make Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones a happy man this season.

Jones, a third-year running back from Southern California, is enjoying a breakout 2020 campaign. Even with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a down stretch, Jones is on pace to potentially earn Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career.

The news gets better for Jones. At his current pace, he has a chance to put together one of the greatest seasons by any running back who spent that season with Brady.

Ronald Jones is having a breakout 2020 season

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Fantasy football owners who took an early chance on Ronald Jones II this year should be feeling proud of that pick.

Through the Buccaneers’ first 12 games, Jones ran for 820 yards and five touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry. That included a historic 98-yard rushing touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10.

Jones has also hauled in 27 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.

Tampa Bay appears in line to make the postseason for the first time since 2007. Jones has been a major reason why the Buccaneers entered December still alive in the standings.

Tom Brady has played with some productive running backs

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For years in New England, a narrative existed that Tom Brady never had enough running back help.

It is true that Brady lacked a bell-cow, Pro Bowl-caliber running back for most of his time in New England. But, it is incorrect to infer that Brady’s running back core was always mediocre.

Corey Dillon won two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots and served as Brady’s first excellent back. Danny Woodhead, James White, and Kevin Faulk all went from undrafted to providing an impact on the ground and as a receiving threat.

LeGarrette Blount became a touchdown machine in four seasons and two stints with the Patriots. New England won two Super Bowl titles with Blount in the backfield from 2013-16.

Where does Ronald Jones rank among Brady’s running backs?

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Ronald Jones is on pace to finish the 2020 season with 1,093 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. 

For reference, the New England Patriots only had five instances of a 1,000-yard rusher in Tom Brady’s 20 seasons: 

  • Corey Dillon had 1,635 yards and 12 touchdowns on 4.7 yards per carry in 2004. 
  • Stevan Ridley totaled 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry in 2012. 
  • LeGarrette Blount ran for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns on 3.9 yards per carry in 2016.
  • Antowain Smith had 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns on an even four yards per carry in 2001. 
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns on 4.4 yards per carry in 2010. 

Of those five, only Dillon earned Pro Bowl honors for that season.

Ronald Jones has a lot of work to do in the Buccaneers’ final four games if he wants to finish with an all-time running back season, at least when it comes to Brady’s teammates.

Jones likely won’t pass Ridley for second place, but he is on pace to have the most yards-per-carry of the six. 

Here is more pressure for Jones. Three of those seasons ended with New England winning the Super Bowl, and the other two saw the Patriots at least make the AFC divisional round. 

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