By: Phillip P-Mac McGruder @ChiefsFocus
Super Bowl 55 Champion running back Ronald Jones appears to be on the way to Kansas City to ring chase. The Chiefs are planning to sign the former Buccaneer to a one-year contract, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Jones also will reunite with college teammates with new Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. The two were playing for the USC Trojans from 2015-2016. Both players in 2016 were named to the Maxwell Award (College football’s top player) watchlist.
As reported by @ChiefsFocus on Chiefs Focus 1st & 10 Show on Thursday. Jones has been on the Chiefs list since the end of the 2021 season and agreed to terms. I have been making post about Rojo’s fit since the first week of February. The other reason how I knew that this would happen is when I noticed that Patrick Mahomes and Ronald Jones share the same agent, Leigh Steinberg.
The 24-year-old Jones has played his entire career for the Buccaneers, who chose him with the 38th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He made progress after a shaky start and had a strong season in 2020, carrying 198 times for 978 yards and adding 28 catches for 165 yards. But in 2021 he was largely phased out of the offense.
How does Rojo fit and what it means for Clyde Edwards-Helaire? Listed at 5-11 and 208 pounds, Jones boasts 4.4 speed. For the Chiefs, Jones is a slashing back who is a threat to rip off a long gain on any carry. He has excellent first-step quickness to fire out of the backfield. Jones explodes to the second level in a blur and looks to get North-South as quickly as possible. Yes I even said this and even scouts say Jones’ running style and his speed to rip off yards in chunks is reminiscent of Jamaal Charles during his glory years with the Chiefs. Charles was 5-11, 200 pounds and Jones are almost identical in size as well. In the 2008 NFL Draft, Charles was a third-round pick out of Texas. Both are Texas natives as well.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah on Ronald Jones during the 2018 NFL Draft process:
“Jones is one of the most explosive players in the draft. He’s similar to Jamaal Charles in size and style. On inside runs, he’s very aggressive in attacking the line of scrimmage and can avoid defenders in tight quarters. He has tackle-breaking power as a result of his lower-leg drive and he mixes in a violent stiff arm. He has a good feel for the cutback lane and displays exceptional lateral burst. On outside runs, he easily gets to the perimeter and is elusive in space. Once he gets a step, Jones has elite breakaway speed. He has improved as both a receiver and blocker. He fought the ball as a sophomore, but was more comfortable as a pass-catcher this fall. He is aware in pass pro, but still gets caught on his heels at times. Overall, Jones is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and I love his toughness and upside in the passing game.”
Also Matt Nagy who was then the Bears coach in 2018 met with Jones and new Chiefs WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling informally at the NFL scouting combine. I believe with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the roster, the two serve as complements to one another. CEH will offer a more complete skill set, including his ability as a route runner and pass blocker, able to detect defenses and recognize blitz packages, Jones boasts big-play bursts. In other words, Ronald Jones and Clyde Edwards-Helaire give the Chiefs a very reliable 1-2 punch at running back.
Over the last few seasons, we’ve seen teams transition from a bell-cow running back to a committee of two or three running backs. The committee typically consists of a lead back who handles the work on first and second down. A receiving back will come in on third-down because it’s usually an obvious passing situation. It also helps keep the lead RB fresh for the whole season.
Jones and CEH will likely be utilized the way the Chiefs used the combination of Jerick McKinnon and Darrel Williams where the pair totaled 156 rushing attempts which will be Jones’ specialty while CEH gets the majority 77 targets in the passing game that Jerick and Darrel combined for in 2021. We can expect Jones to get around 10-15 touches per game as the Chiefs will look to give Clyde Edwards-Helaire a break and keep him from suffering another late-season injury.
This move will also take a lot of pressure off Patrick Mahomes by forcing the defense to honor the run, leading the phenom QB to play some of his best football. Both Jones and Edwards-Helaire pose a major threat to defenses when running inside or outside the tackles or catching the ball out of the backfield. The combination of speed, power, pass-catching ability and versatility in each back is going to make the Chiefs duo one of the most fun to watch in the league. The pair also has the most potential to break out this season, with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes trying to balance out this off-season and so far the plan is working.