There are two Buccaneer players that the pressure will be on to have a bounce back season in 2019. You could even call it a breakout season. Those two Buccaneer players are Vernon Hargreaves and Ronald Jones.
Hargreaves entering his fourth year in Tampa has had a disappointing career up to this point. He has been hampered by juries and the scheme that previous defensive coordinator Mike Smith wanted Hargreaves to play in did not match his skill set.
Arians has said all the right things about Hargreaves to this point. Arians believes that Hargreaves will be an impact player on defense this year and can be a leader in the locker room for the young defensive backs.
Hargreaves has already started mentoring some of the rookies and young defensive players to try to impart his learnings to them and make their adjustment to the NFL a bit easier.
Hargreaves was a highly touted cornerback and All-American at Florida, and has yet to reach the expectations that were expected of him at the NFL level.
Hargreaves has played in a total of 26 games out of a possible 48 due to his injuries. The stat that jumps out at you when looking at Hargreaves is he only has one interception in his NFL career. One pick in 26 games played.
For a guy that had 10 picks in 36 games at Florida, this is a very alarming stat.
Arians has said that Hargreaves will start this season opposite Carlton Davis, but we have training camp and the pre-season to get through.
On the offensive side of the ball a lot has been written about Jameis Winston and the need for him to have a big season as he he is on a one year contract, and the Bucs will need to decide wether or not to extend him at around $25 million a season, or let him walk.
The player that has to rebound and really make a contribution to this offense is running back Ronald Jones.
The second round pick out of USC was the one of the biggest disappointments on the Bucs last season and in the NFL.
Not only did Jones struggle in picking up the offense and reading defenses, he didn’t get on the field until week four in Chicago. Jones had 28 of his 44 rushing yards in that game and struggled mightily with all aspects of his game.
The Bucs were counting on him to be an important of the passing game with the loss of Charles Sims and that never came to fruition.
To be fair, Jones did not have to catch the ball out of the backfield at USC a lot as he was used primarily to run the ball.
Arians and running backs coach Todd McNair are very high on Ronald Jones and blamed a lot his problems last year on the poor play of the offensive line as Jones was hit behind the line of scrimmage on many of his carries.
If the Bucs offense is going to have a much better running game in 2019, they are going to have to get a much better performance out of Ronald Jones.
If we see the same old Hargreaves this season and Ronald Jones continues to struggle, this will be two more high draft picks on Jason Licht’s watch that didn’t work out.
The clock is ticking for both Hargreaves and Jones. Arians is a non nonsense guy. He is not the type of coach that will keep sending players out there that cannot get the job done.
For the Bucs to make the improvements that are needed on defense and the running game, these two guys have to be ready to be big contributors in 2019.