Cory's Corner: Jones' Signing Essential; More Work To Do

Jones is a great start to a Super Bowl. 

The Packers know a little about surprises after all. The Packers threw a curveball at the NFL by signing Aaron Jones to a four-year, $48 million deal on Sunday. 

Nearly everyone, including myself, had the Packers moving on from Jones. The dynamic running back that was taken in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft has vaulted himself into one of the best versatile players in the game. 

It isn’t fair to strictly call Jones a running back, because he has averaged over 40 catches a game in the last three years, combined with six receiving touchdowns. The Packers have the luxury of lining Jones up all over the field, as they watch the defense get a splitting headache trying to stop him. 

Just how valuable is Jones? In the last three years, Jones has accounted for 27 percent of Green Bay’s offensive touchdowns. Last year, when he played all 16 regular season games, he accounted for 43 percent.

The criticism on Jones has been the same story. “He’s only 5-foot-9, how is he going to handle the punishment of NFL defenses?” I think he has done a masterful job of proving his durability by starting 42 of 48 games. The one element that has really revolutionized football has been speed. In the past, it was all about big, burly men that could flatten opponents into submission. Now, it’s about having another gear to sidestep those waiting defenders. True, Jones does resemble a Mini Cooper, but he has the horsepower of a Mustang to go along with it. 

And what has been the calling card of the Brian Gutekunst regime? If there is one trait that the Packers general manager has consistently favored over everything else, it’s versatility. Elgton Jenkins is another example of that versatility and a large reason why the Packers will be OK with not bringing back center Corey Linsley. Keeping Jones means the Packers love their fluid offense that includes plenty of play-action with a running back that excels behind a zone blocking scheme. 

However, bringing back Jones likely means that Jamaal Williams isn’t coming back. NFL free agency is when an organization has to make plenty of difficult decisions and watching a productive fourth rounder walk will be hard. But it also speaks to how good the Packers have been at the NFL Draft. Yes, there are mistakes like Josh Jones and Oren Burks, but every team has draft warts. The Packers are proving that those things are an outlier. 

The best thing about the Jones’ signing is that it says the Packers are committed to winning right now. The previous regime had a problem addressing Aaron Rodgers' championship window, but Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur know how precious their 37-year-old quarterback is. That may be hard for many people to understand because the Packers traded up to take Jordan Love last year and we still don’t know what he can do vs. an NFL defense. 

The Packers know they at least have two more Super Bowl potential years left and with Tom Brady coveting more all-star talent in Tampa Bay, getting out of the NFC is going to be even tougher than last year. 

Signing Jones was the first piece of the puzzle. The Packers still need more help on the defensive line and another cornerback to play alongside Jaire Alexander. 

If the Packers want another ticker tape parade in Green Bay, there's more work to do.

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (27)

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 16, 2021 at 07:07 am

I honestly wasn't surprised that the Packers resigned Jones. When they didn't franchise him, I didn't think it was automatic that he was gone. I'm happy he is back. He is a huge part of our offense. He is a true weapon.

I have seen a few complaining about resigning for Jones for the money he got. Lets not worry about the money. That is the Packers job to worry about the money.
I have also seen the people talking about how they are not any closer to advancing by signing Jones. While its true that resigning Jones they are not necessarily better then where they were at, they are definitely not worse. Jones is a weapon. Resigning him provides the playmaker we need. If we lost Jones that is a big hole in the offense. I really like Dillon, but he isn't Jones. What Dillon does do though is compliments Jones really well.

Now that Jones has been signed and Linsley has signed elsewhere, I expect the Packers to be looking for some players. I wouldn't be surprised to see them go after some Veteran OL. I would not be surprised to see them looking at bringing in help at DL, and CB also. Maybe a WR. The next few days should be interesting.

We also have a few of our own FA's that I will be curious to see what happens with them.

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dobber's picture

March 16, 2021 at 08:00 am

" The next few days should be interesting."

I think aside from the Packers own RFAs we're not going to see much FA activity for about a week or so. We're going to want big hits...I think that was Jones. It's possible they'll bring in a bigger name yet, but every time they do, they'll need to go to the well for another significant restructure or a cut. We'll need to be patient: from here on the Packers are likely to be shopping the bargain bin for players that raise the talent floor of the roster, not necessarily for a star.

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PeteK's picture

March 16, 2021 at 09:01 am

Yes, ESPN reported that Pack has inquired about some mid level CBs and DTs. I would be very happy with Guy and Butler and some draft picks at those positions. Breeland is available.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:38 am

It is widely reported that the packers offense is 2nd in the NFL in expected points per play when Jones is on the field and drops to 27th when Jones is off the field. Re-signing Jones means that no big hole opened up. Dillon might have filled it: it he can, great, should look like Brockington and MacArthur Lane. [Well, Lane was not exactly a scat back type, but please make allowances.]

@dobber: I would not be surprised if the Packers wait until May or June to sign free agents.

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stockholder's picture

March 16, 2021 at 07:25 am

I feel Jones could have been extended before this. Why the debate? When a player puts their heart on their sleeve. It isn't brain science to get it done. Was he selfish? I doubt it. I believe it was Gute insulting his intelligence. If somebody is good at what they do. They want to be appreciated and rewarded. Didn't Adams get the big pay-Day? Didn't Bahk? He earned it. And Gute played with his mind. Why did management not see how important he was SOONER? My point is; Gute could have saved the franchise money. Jones wasn't a top draft pick. They didn't invest a lot in him until it was almost to late. And Now GUTE gets praise for going all in? No - Gute hasn't earn it. He's regressed as a GM. If anyone gets the applause, it should be the player/players. Their the ones who are going all in.

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dobber's picture

March 16, 2021 at 08:11 am

"Why did management not see how important he was SOONER? My point is; Gute could have saved the franchise money. "

Stockholder: I need to buy a car...a fancy one.
Friend: How much money do you have in your pocket?
Stockholder: I really don't know
Friend: Didn't you just need to take a new job that pays you less?
Stockholder: Well, yes, but I'm expecting to have a much better paying job in a couple years.
Friend: Don't you have another car?
Stockholder: Yes.
Friend: Well, why don't you wait to see how your finances look before buying another car?
Stockholder: I think I can save money on a car if I buy it now
Friend: So you already own a car, you don't know what your ability to pay for a new car will be, your earning power is cut, and you presume that a car will be cheaper now than it will be when you know what your ability to pay will be?
Stockholder: Yup!
Friend: <<shrugs>>

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stockholder's picture

March 16, 2021 at 10:11 am

No way Jose.

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egbertsouse's picture

March 16, 2021 at 07:51 am

They could have used that money to help shore up that crap defense or get another offensive tackle to keep the Franchise upright. Decent RBs are a dime a dozen. They should be spending money to improve the team. Instead they are spending a ton to stay the same.

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murf7777's picture

March 16, 2021 at 08:21 am

Your argument is a good one, approach not so much. The D wasn’t crappy. I would debate that the O will be better With a healthy Deguara, Funchess and Dillon playing more. My only concern is the OL and that is why I also am concerned we didn’t use the money on the OL or D. I suspect the first round pick to be an OT and the next 4 being D. It’s a very good OT draft.

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dobber's picture

March 16, 2021 at 08:42 am

I agree: keeping Funchess, drafting IOL last year, keeping Jones, and getting a new DC makes this look like a very D-intensive draft coming up.

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PeteK's picture

March 16, 2021 at 08:48 am

I also believe Runyon will be a good addition especially at G.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 16, 2021 at 12:17 pm

He may end up as the RT.

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PeteK's picture

March 16, 2021 at 02:39 pm

I could see it, especially if Stepaniak is ready .

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 16, 2021 at 09:59 pm

Stepaniak is a 50/50 guy depending if his knee isn't shredded beyond recovery. He would fit the backup profile. I don't believe they consider Taylor as a fit to fill the guard spots.

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BartySmith76's picture

March 16, 2021 at 08:52 am

Great move if your a fantasy football team. Problem is, the Pack is a real team playing real football. You know, the kind where the battles are won at the line of scrimmage. It's the kind of league where good tackling, run stuffing linebackers, and a commitment to the running the football wins games. Granted, Jones is a playmaker and he will put up some stats, might even win FedeX Ground player of the week. Heck we already have an MVP quarterback - his stats will be great again I suspect.

However, this team desperately needs 2 things that the Jones signing not only doesn't accomplish, it makes getting them done harder. First, they absolutely need to get tougher on D. Even on defense we get enamored with stats. Z Smith will get his 9.5 sacks, but he can't tackle a running back. Second, we are a passing team. So, we need a running game that compliments a passing scheme. We would have been fine with Dillon and Williams if we commit to giving them ball more than 15 times a game. We need a back that can pound the line, not run around it. Without the ability run hard up the middle, opposing defenses can stay in the same personell group, thus making it more difficult to execute the passing game. All you havbe to do is think about how we couldn't stop the run in crunch time and we couldn't pass in crunch time (we didn't even try to run agianst the Bucs.)

Jones is fun to watch and he brings an honest hard working attitude. He's likable by all accounts. But, I don't see this signing as a a key to win the Superbowl. Not unless the two points I mentioned are addressed.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 16, 2021 at 02:55 pm

Running the ball is on Lafleur. More often than not he bailed on the run game, and went empty and 4 WR. That's on him. Signing Jones is a clear signal that the Packers will want to run the ball. This is not about Rodgers, it's about Lafleur and his scheme. He needs to commit to the run game. Gute has been pretty clear about his draft needs, but he will surprise us, it is in the nature of the draft. He will get the horses for Lafleur's offense, after that it will be up to him.

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BartySmith76's picture

March 16, 2021 at 04:57 pm

I hope your right, but I think you missed my point. It's the style of back that's the problem. You defend against Jones with a nickle defense, same personel as playing the pass. With runner like Dillon (think Eddie Lacy in 2014) you need to commit more to the line, which opens up play action. You either want to pound the ball and beat your opponent or you want to try and trick them with mis-direction.

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flackcatcher's picture

March 16, 2021 at 07:59 pm

No I got it. My point still holds. Yes, I like you want to see more pure run rather RPO. Rodgers makes the RPO/ play-action deadly and makes the run game very effective in Lafleur's scheme. But Lafleur has drifted away from the run, injuries to the H/F Back and loss of Evrin, and like McCarthy riding a hot Rodgers got all to easy for Lafleur. Yes the Packers need to draft OL/OT. The odds those guys see quality time, flip a coin. Still comes down to Lafleur wanting to run to win. For all his talk he hasn't done it.

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 16, 2021 at 10:05 pm

Why would anyone run to win when you have the MVP of the League running the show? The loss was about turnovers and not making the Int prior to halftime. The Pack needs TWO more CBs capable of starting. Sullivan is at best, a dime guy. Need a #2 and #3 from free agency and the draft. At least two CBs from this draft. Jackson is a bust and Hollman was not utilized enough to see if he has any NFL ability.

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Fabio's picture

March 16, 2021 at 09:00 am

Even with all the possible renovations / extensions that we will soon have to do (Adams? Rodgers? ...) I fear that we will not have the money to acquire FA to fill the holes in CB, ILB, OL, ST (if not someone low cost to depth).
So let's postpone everything to the draft once again ....
I keep saying that if we want to go with Rodgers (as with any aging Q - see Brady's example) we have to invest heavily in the D to make it elite. I am thrilled to have AJ back, but we could very well have replaced it with a slot receiver and spent that money on other needs.
And if Arod starts next season, then everything is under construction ..... for LOVE
Hopefully at the end of the season we will not be here to talk about the same problems again
However my faith will never collapse
Go Pack Go
Greetings from Italy

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blondy45's picture

March 16, 2021 at 09:01 am

Gute is doing a masterful job. He has kept the #1 offense in the NFL mostly intact. The Pack has players who want to be a Packer and want to stay in Green Bay. The surprise signing of AJ shows the organization is not cheap and wants to win. The foresight of drafting players who will help down the line is so much overlooked. I did not like the 2020 draft last year. Now looking back, they did a good job. The 3, third day O-line picks are all going to be good, maybe very good. Dillon is the perfect fit with AJ. I hated the trade up to get Love, but he is here hopefully only ready if Rodgers gets hurt. The Pack can develop him. Look at all of the recent drafts where QB's are taken first round, forced to play early, and struggle. We also forget the special blocker Deguara can be. Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes were an upgrade to the LB corps. The Pack needs CB & DL help for sure. If we can find help in the lower bargain tier FA market like Rickey Wagner last year, we can be best player available in the 10 player draft this year. Money? In the NFL you do not get points for saving money. You get points for spending $ on players who fit your system & want to be a part of the TEAM! Go Pack Go!

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MarkinMadison's picture

March 16, 2021 at 09:04 am

I wasn't aware Jones was averaging 40 catches a game over the last three years. That is an amazing stat. Or a typo. One of the two. ;-)

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murf7777's picture

March 16, 2021 at 10:22 am

Yes Jones has and with Dillon carrying the rock probably more than Williams did, I suspect he will exceed 60 this year. I’m excited to see more two back sets this year.

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frankthefork's picture

March 16, 2021 at 11:42 am

Nice Cory thanks. All is good if a draft like the one I just did today on PFN comes to fruition.
29 - Newsome CB; 62 Eichenberg OT; 92 Shelvin DT: 4th rd WR Rodgers, RB Sermon. 5th rd. Surratt, Toney or Rumpf.
6th Rd. S sterns and CB St Juste or TE Bushman. Just a nice fantasy start to the draft.
After those dream picks I'm ok with QB Costello or Elhington at 254. Just dreaming today...GPG

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wildbill's picture

March 16, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Would be happy if your draft ended up being our draft

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 17, 2021 at 12:49 am

Shelvin is an interesting player. He doesn't sound like the type of NT Barry is looking for.

Any player who runs 362 pounds is someone the scouts have to assess carefully to rule out the possibility that he reports to a TC in the future at 390.

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romanadam1177's picture

March 16, 2021 at 06:17 pm

Nice Cory thanks.

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