Cory's Corner: A Steady Diet Of Jones and Dillon

The Packers might have the best running back combo in the league. 

It seems so simple doesn’t it?

The easiest path for a Packers win on Sunday will be on the legs of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

But yet it remains so complicated. Tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins may not play and it looks like supposed No. 1 wideout Allen Lazard may be out as well because he got stepped on in practice.

The Packers had enough questions heading into this season, now they have even more as they get ready to write another chapter with the Minnesota Vikings. 

But that’s why this team must get back to the basics. Between those backs, they must have a combined 30 touches. That seems like a big number, but when you have two versatile running backs that can not only run it proficiently but can also catch it with ease, you have a deadly combination. 

And these aren’t just your running backs that will catch screens and swings either. Expect Jones to line up on the outside and dare a defense to put a linebacker on him — and then scorch him en route to a big gain. 

The passing game is going to take some time to mesh, and I would be saying that even if Lazard was 100 percent on Sunday. There will be growing pains with these receivers. Aaron Rodgers is most likely going to get annoyed a time or two early on this season before a couple of wideouts will rise up and lead that group. 

Even with Vikings defensive end Jonathan Bullard listed as questionable, the rest of the defensive line with nose tackle Harrison Phillips and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson are above average at stopping the run. 

Which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if coach Matt LaFleur throws a changeup at Minnesota rookie coach Kevin O’Connell. Throw short, high percentage passes on early downs in an effort to make third down easier to swallow. If the Packers see a majority of third downs with five or less yards to go, that’s a win. But if they start staring at a lot of seven or eight yard third downs, that’s a lot to ask from a passing game that is still trying to find itself. 

Jones averaged 11.4 carries and 3.4 receptions a game last year and Dillon averaged 11 and 2. At first glance, 30 seems like Mount Everest, but 30 is actually realistic and will be needed to keep this offense afloat.

And the best park about getting the run game going is the Packers have a quarterback that is a magician when it comes to the play-action. The Vikings, led by offseason addition Za’Darius Smith, really want this game and Green Bay could really capitalize on that intensity by getting them to over pursue.

Jones and Dillon are going to set the table on offense so pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.  

 

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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 (15)

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 07:44 am

i am looking forward to seeing what MLF and AR have come up with as a strategy for this 2022 version of the GBP offense.

We can use players names and last years stats all we want to, it doesnt tell us a thing about what stew has been cooked up in the minds of the strategic leaders.

I certainly hope that wiping the slate clean by letting DA go has allowed a great deal of imagination to permeate the meetings held this off-season and that a scheme emerges that maximizes use of the talents available and also allows contributors to grow their roles as the season progresses.

It is time for some meaningful football and i am ready!

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 10, 2022 at 10:54 am

Does the money go to Doubs or Watson to take one to the House, first vs. the purple plague?

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Johnblood27's picture

September 10, 2022 at 03:22 pm

I'm a big Watson guy.

I love Doubs, but Watson is just a "different animal"!

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coolhand's picture

September 10, 2022 at 08:10 pm

I think Watkins will surprise everyone tomorrow and be ARod's go to guy

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

September 10, 2022 at 07:45 am

Personally, I expect a very balanced attack. I think MLF will throw the kitchen sink at the Vikings, both to keep them off balance and to give future opponents more to prepare for.
I think the game could come down to the success or failure of some “shot plays.” I expect Watson and Doubs to each get at least one shot.

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mrtundra's picture

September 10, 2022 at 08:25 am

According to the vikings play by play announcers, they feel they can beat the Packers with uptempo plays from their offense. That should mean that Kark has to get rid of the ball, quickly, because our D Line will be playing uptempo, as well. I can see our D Line controlling the LOS, all game long and can see a very frustrated Kark, tossing up a few balls for potential picks, just to avoid being sacked. Our Davante -less WR room will surprise the viking secondary, as the vikings think our WR room isn't good, just because Davante is gone. Our RBs will punish the viking D Line all game long, as well. Here's hoping Bakh and/or Elgton can play, and if they do not play, that our back ups can create holes for Jones and Dillon to exploit the viking defense.There's always a way to beat the vikings. MLF, his coaches and ARod will find a way to do exactly that! GO PACK, GO!!!

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Tundraboy's picture

September 10, 2022 at 09:11 am

The Defense will be our key to victory and a resounding one at that. Looking forward to only a horn blow or two. Immediate Viking anguish is the right way to kick off the season!!! GPG.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 10, 2022 at 12:45 pm

If the Vikings think they are going to win this game, make them earn it. The Packers have a new punter and he looks like a competent one to go along with a stout defense.

Run that ball and be smart with the football. I'm expecting Kirk Cousins to get sacked and hurried. Let our outstanding defensive front put on the pressure while out ball hawks in the backfield pick him off. The winner of the turnover battle often wins the game.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 10, 2022 at 01:27 pm

I don't think either teams running game will be that effective tomorrow. The OL might be playing together for the first time for the Packers and it sounds like the Vikings spent a lot of time in TC on installing the passing offense and have a questionable OL.

Kenny Clark brought up stopping the run this week and it's definitely been a problem for them in the LaFluer era:

"There are reasons to be concerned, starting with the play of last year’s defense. During the final seven games of the regular season, the Packers allowed at least 28 points five times. That was tied with Minnesota and Carolina for most in the NFL. The 49ers, who knocked the Packers out of the playoffs, and the Rams, who won the Super Bowl, had a league-low one such game."

"When coordinator Joe Barry’s defense should have been peaking down the stretch, it was a miserable 28th in points allowed. It ranked 24th in total defense, 22nd on third down, 28th in yards allowed per carry and last in touchdown passes."

"The Packers’ defense will dominate a game filled with third-and-longs. To get there, they’ve got to stop the run. In terms of yards allowed per attempt during the Matt LaFleur era, the Packers ranked 30th in 2021, 21st in 2020 and 24th in 2019. There won’t be many third-and-longs in a game when you’re giving up 4.5 yards per carry.

Judging run defense is difficult during training camp because there’s no live tackling and it’s often impossible to gauge whether or not the runner was stopped. However, it appeared the Saints ran the ball well during two days of joint practices. The Vikings, with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison in the backfield, will provide an early litmus test."

https://www.si.com/nfl/packers/news/packers-season-preview-three-reasons...

I think the defense can do some exciting things this year but I think people are looking at how they looked against the 49ers and forgetting there was some ugly showings the 2nd half of the year. If they're going to be a top 5 defense they need to do better against the run 1st and get teams into long down and distance situations.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 10, 2022 at 02:43 pm

I'm going to agree with this. At least 50% of it. It IS hard to gauge your run defense without real hitting, but it's also hard to practice tackling without real hitting. The difference between a 2 yard run and a 15 yard run is often just one missed tackle.

The best RB will average 5.0 yards/carry.
An Average QB will average 7.0 yards/attempt.

If we are snuffing the run and constantly leaving them in long yardage, why wouldn't they just throw more? Why would you want them averaging 7 yards per play instead of 5?

IMO, stopping the run in short yardage is important. The rest of the time? Not so much.

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 10, 2022 at 04:38 pm

This is why the Packers brought in Reed, Wyatt, and Walker. Lowry had a career year last year, and Slaton is looking MUCH better. The run D should be much better this year.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 10, 2022 at 02:42 pm

Stop/limit Jefferson and hold off their pass rush and we will do ok. My guess is that they will test both.

On our offense I think that Rodgers will find a way to connect with some of the rookies. Sammy and Cobb will be reliable on third down. As for as Jones and Dillon, I expect that they will gameplan for them. As others have said, if they do well, so will our offense.

On ST’s they have some real good returners. I will consider it a win if they can simply limit their explosive plays. I have yet to see or hear about how accurate Crosby has been with a new holder and snapper.

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jont's picture

September 10, 2022 at 03:35 pm

I'm feeling good about this game.

JA can handle Jefferson; he'll catch a couple but won't take over the game. The front 7 will get after Cousins. Just keep Cook from breaking anything, and the vikes won't score a lot-- maybe 16 or 17 points.

On offense, the Packers can run the ball, and short, quick passes and some throws off motion will move the chains. A few downfield passes will be dangerous as Doubs and Watson get behind the corners. The pack wins with 24 to 27 points.

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PackyCheese500's picture

September 10, 2022 at 04:36 pm

Behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Jones and Dillon are the best RB duo in the NFL. I really want to see the Pack run the ball more this season, because they’re good at it and it will help the passing game too.

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Crankbait's picture

September 11, 2022 at 07:41 am

The Packers have never consistently run the ball well under MLF.... O line is just not a good run blocking line and I feel that the Vikings are going to be extremely jacked up and dominate this game at least in the first half. I am very excited about the individual talent of our defense but Barry has not improved much on the field since his hire and I am still doubtful but hopeful at the same time.
Going to be a very close hard hitting game and I'm predicting the Vikings will win it on a last drive field goal,
but at the end of the season we will crush them.

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