Cory's Corner: Aaron Jones Is The Answer

There is no reason to panic. The Packers have the perfect offensive weapon. 

What has been the common theme for general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur? 

It’s versatility. They want guys that can do many things well, while causing plenty of headaches on the other side of the ball. 

The person that is going to force opposing defensive coordinators to reach for the ibuprofen more and more this season will be Aaron Jones. With Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling on different teams and with Robert Tonyan’s availability still in question as he heals from a torn ACL, Jones will be the versatile weapon that most offenses can dream about.

It only makes sense to start using Jones more as a receiver. Last year, Jones was 14th in the NFC in yards after the catch — among all pass catchers. He was only five yards away from Dallas’ No. 1 receiver CeeDee Lamb. 

Jones does an incredible job in space and if a team tries to put a linebacker on him, the 27-year-old running back will run right past him. And even if they line up a corner or safety opposite him, Jones has proven that he doesn’t mind contact and isn’t afraid to run right through people. 

There are also only two players with 4,000 scrimmage yards and over 40 touchdowns the last three years. Derrick Henry is one and you guessed it, Jones is the other. 

“Everything excites me about him,” said Matt LaFleur before the 2021 season opener. His ability, obviously, as a runner, out of the backfield as a receiver, he does a great job in pass protection and just how he is as a teammate. He’s a great leader and provides a great example for all our guys.”

And that leadership has been on full display in camp so far. “I feel like in this league you need two good backs, you need a running mate,” Jones said earlier this week about AJ Dillon. Now, how many No. 1 running backs would be willing to say that about another player that could potentially be at the doorstep of poaching snaps and carries from you? That really shows Jones’ maturity and how much he wants to win. 

So many people have been biting their collective fingernails about what the future holds for a team that lost a major playmaker. 

There’s no need to worry because Jones is on the roster. The sombrero-wearing Swiss army knife is the perfect antidote for a team that is starving for weapons. Jones’ receptions have gone up all five years he’s been in the league and this year I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses 60 receptions this year — breaking last year’s mark by eight. 

I hesitate to say this, but I think Jones could rival Marshall Faulk’s production. Faulk had five seasons where he had over 80 receptions as he became the engine for “The Greatest Show on Turf” in St. Louis. I’m not sure if Jones could get to 80, but he sure can be the heartbeat for the offense in Green Bay. 

And it’s even more of a bonus that Jones is a tremendous team-first player. He has the speed, cutting ability, vision and power to rack up the numbers, but he is selfless enough to put the team first. 

It’s a win across the board for the Packers. With Jones, Green Bay wins either way. 
 

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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 (30)

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NickPerry's picture

August 02, 2022 at 06:44 am

“I feel like in this league you need two good backs, you need a running mate,”

OTHER than the fact that this dude is really F'ing good, he says things like this and actually mean it! It's not lip service, something to make him look like the ultimate "Team Guy". Nope, this IS Aaron Jones and Jones will do ANYTHING necessary to help the Packers win. You just have to love a guy like that IMO.

While I wouldn't compare him to Marshall Faulk just yet, the role he'll have in this offense is very Faulk-like. But I also think this is the year of AJ Dillon. IMO this will be AJ Dillon's break-out season in terms of running the ball. 1200 yards or more seems very reasonable to me for Dillon. Dillon will be the 1A runner, Jones the 1-A pass catcher.

Cory mentioned 80 catches for Jones which I think is a definite possibility. MLF has been designing new ways to get Jones the ball, AND I think Rodgers will lean on Jones heavily this year...Especially early on while Doubs and (SIGH) Watson get up to speed.

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Oppy's picture

August 02, 2022 at 07:38 am

You'd have to go back to Ryan Grant in 2009 to find a 1,200 yard rusher for the Packers.

Dillon is capable, but I would call it extremely unlikely that Dillon touches 1,200 rushing yards when there's another capable back on the roster, and more importantly, Aaron Rodgers is under center.

Rodgers is simply not going to hand off the ball to enough to make that feasible.

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2022 at 09:20 am

1200 yards, even at 5 ypc is 240 carries. That’s a little over 14 Carries a game. Only 6 RBs had that many last year. Jones had 171 and Dillon had 187. I believe both will again be approximately equal again this year and that we might see the total number rise somewhat, but not by a third.

So even if Jones managed a highly unlikely 5 ypc, 1200 yards is unlikely. 1000 yards on the ground by either will be a heck of a performance even if both play all 17 games. I could see both raise their passing yards, but that may act to reduce carries a little.

On a related point, I am not all that excited by Goodson as a runner, at least unless he can find a clean hole, but I’m hearing a great deal of excitement from a few who watched him about his ability in the passing game. This kid could be a wild card, not in my view as a 3rd RB, but as a 4th who really is a catcher who can run. It will be interesting to see if the team take a serious look at him in such a role. I don’t know if he shows in STs. So happy pads are coming on.

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LLCHESTY's picture

August 02, 2022 at 02:29 pm

Agreed, and people forget Jones was more efficient running the ball. I could see Dillon getting 200 carries and Jones 175. That would be about 12 carries a game for Dillon and 10 for Jones. Also helps to remember that Jones' touches went way up in the games Adams missed and in three of his five seasons he averaged 5.5 YPC. You don't stop giving a guy averaging that the ball. Dillon was extremely steady but he needs to produce more explosive runs.

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Oppy's picture

August 02, 2022 at 04:57 pm

Keep in mind even in 2020 when Jones averaged 5.5 YPC, he was only getting 12 carries a game. Rodgers will not willingly feed even a red-hot RB the ball any more than he has to. He loves to get RBs more involved, but he means more involved in his passing stats.

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jannes bjornson's picture

August 02, 2022 at 08:18 pm

Jones is not a bell cow back. If they fed him 20 carries/gm he would be on IR by mid-season. He operates best in space. Goodson may be his complement, Hill and Taylor will fight it out for the second power back behind Dillon.
I see a lot of 3 to 4 wide sets with this group of wides. They're not a collection of stiffs. The Greenhorns have some chops. As we witnessed the past couple of seasons, the O-line will determine how dynamic this offense will
become.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 02, 2022 at 08:49 am

When you have a WR like Adams, the Offense is focused to get him the ball. Makes sense. But he wanted out of Green Bay for whatever reasons.

So the O needs to focus on the next playmaker up to get the ball...and he wants to be here. Aaron Jones.

AJ has been one of Gutey's top draft picks. He runs, blocks, catches and leads so very well, with his "team first" attitude as you point out, Nick.

Listening to AJD, he sounds a lot like AJ in his team first view and a "dynamic duo" two headed monster to stress defenses.

AJ is a great receiver who also is a fine runner. AJD is a great runner who is also a fine receiver. I wonder if ML and Steno dial up more 21 and 22 personnel to get both skilled, proven backs on the field at the same time and more motion...especially early in the season, since there is not yet a clear cut #1 WR.

More illusion of complexity, please!

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2022 at 09:29 am

“More illusion of complexity, please”. Yes, there has to be.

My concern is that Rodgers dislike of formation changes between snaps is at odds with this. Hopefully he is willing to move away from winding the clock down to read Ds so often with the same guys on the field now he doesn’t have Adams.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 02, 2022 at 10:26 am

In order for Matt to adjust the O to maximize its strengths and minimize weaknesses...one weakness to minimize is #12 being slow to embrace the adjustments.

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murf7777's picture

August 02, 2022 at 11:25 am

Since 2015, All Arod has done without Adams and with two different coaching staffs is go 10-1 with a QB rating of 112. He knows what he is doing and will make any necessary adjustments to be successful. Pretty hard to argue with those numbers regardless of how you feel about running down the clock or his dislike of formation issues. Barring injuries, you will see more explosive plays for AJ.

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PhantomII's picture

August 02, 2022 at 08:46 pm

I hope so...Supposedly It helps AR decide what defense they are in and choose the best target to throw to....All it does is rest the defense. That is for certain.

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LLCHESTY's picture

August 02, 2022 at 02:31 pm

Jones was picked on TT's final draft.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 02, 2022 at 04:42 pm

That's right. My miss.

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T7Steve's picture

August 02, 2022 at 07:37 am

Good article Cory. Now that they're into camp we don't have to just have hype. A lot of people comment that the running backs took a step back last year and show the numbers to prove it but, I think it was think it was the O-line that took a step back with all the new faces and/or new places. I think this year with a good (and healthy) camp and the backs working more at the same time, they'll exceed 2020 numbers in all phases.

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Bure9620's picture

August 02, 2022 at 08:10 am

Jones is going to be the primary recevier on many plays. I see him and Dillon on the field together a lot.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 02, 2022 at 08:16 am

Jones will be the biggest key to the offense. Both in the running game and passing game. I don't expect him to get an abundance of carries per game, but touches I think he will have a lot. I think he will have 20+ touches per game. Maybe around 10-12 carries. I think they will be splitting carries between him and Dillon.

I would not be surprised to see a lot of 2 RB looks especially early in the year. But I think Jones will be the biggest key. His versatility and ability to be use in multiple ways will be one of the biggest keys for the offense.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 02, 2022 at 09:05 am

I should have read your comment before I posted mine. Then I could have just posted "see RCPF's comment below."

Matt should have a more balanced run/pass this year, especially early. The Packers ran 40% in 2019, then 44% in 2020, and down to 42% last year. Still a far cry from the 30-35% run rate during MMs last few years. But with this line and these backs, run to set up the pass.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 02, 2022 at 11:55 am

lol.

I don't read other peoples comments until after I post mine.

thanks for the stats. yeah they definitely have ran the ball a lot more under LaFleur. I think think this will be in the 43-44% range.

I would go higher but I think they will throw to the RB's a lot, so it technically isn't a run, but its like a run.

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2022 at 08:56 am

I think there is a chance that the other slot type in this O is Jones. Cobb isn’t going anywhere, but as a player schemed open to run with the ball after the catch, Jones is the guy. With players like Watson likely to run some plays, Cobb and Jones, I’d be very happy with the slot type receiver options when we aren’t using Lazard/Watkins/Doubs there. This is another reason why I’m struggling to see how Rodgers fits, at least this year.

A certain amount of Irony in the timing of this piece, because Dillon yesterday made perhaps one of the best catches by a big RB in a long time up the seam, adjusting to the pass, snaring it and retaining momentum. That man can flat out catch and I expect to see him earn more passes too. We are going to see 2 RB sets and I think plenty of passing yards out of them. Put Watson on the field too and I think LaFleur could really have fun.

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LambeauPlain's picture

August 02, 2022 at 09:10 am

Dittos. The last few years the O ran through Adams...I feel running it through the RBs will open up opportunities for the WRs and TEs, especially when teamed with play action, motion, jets, screens.

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EnemyTerritory's picture

August 02, 2022 at 01:17 pm

I’m also having trouble seeing Amari Rodgers in the lineup. I try to follow the daily blogs and frankly his name is pretty absent on most remarks about the offense and WR. I know it’s just camp but …

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PatrickGB's picture

August 02, 2022 at 09:26 am

I hope that the optimism from this article proves true. Yet Jones is approaching the backside of his career. A two headed monster is great but a three headed monster is even better. Taylor is Ok but I was really hoping that Hill would be the next one in line. His injury came at a bad time. I read that some of the other RB’s have looked good catching passes. So maybe the next RB will have to have that ability in order to stick on the team.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

August 02, 2022 at 11:08 am

The answer for this offense is to spread the ball around and stay balanced between pass and run. Get away from focusing on one or two guys and get everyone involved. Become unpredictable.

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splitpea1's picture

August 02, 2022 at 11:28 am

I still think we're better off with last season's arrangement in roughly splitting the touches between Jones and Dillon. It's a long season and we really don't need Jones to get dinged up by trying to match Faulk's production. Faulk, by the way, never had a complementary back of Dillon's caliber as a teammate either with the Rams or the Colts.

The Packers may choose to lean on Jones more in the passing game in the early going, which is fine, but the ball distribution needs to be evening out as the season rolls along.

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T7Steve's picture

August 02, 2022 at 03:08 pm

I agree, throw in some rookies when we're winning too. The backs like to build up their numbers in a win, but "team first" keep them fresh. I also agree with Return to Sanity. Not do the run, run, pass, punt deal. Mix it up. That is another thing that hurt last year. I could guess most of the run /pass plays by their personnel packages and if AR is under center or not. If I could guess, you know the other teams' defenses could. Unpredictable personnel packages are going to help our D too this year.

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Vforrest's picture

August 02, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Marshall Faulk comparison….cool 👊🏻 can’t wait to see that! It’s amazing for a team with so many key people returning you’d expect to see much of what worked in the past…but I’m so fired up to see what the first four games look like and what are the difference’s are with this team on both sides.

Clearly they will have ideas right out of the gate what they think they can do! Can’t wait!

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Bure9620's picture

August 02, 2022 at 01:08 pm

And Doubs continues to make plays with the pads on.......apparently they are not in his way

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Coldworld's picture

August 02, 2022 at 06:40 pm

Doubs had a true blinder today in full pads on a very difficult corner end zone catch (terrific throw from Love, just very difficult catch to make and stay in bounds) per Nagler and others.

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canadapacker's picture

August 02, 2022 at 04:23 pm

We all know that times are different and the game is different - but we are set up to have the same Csonka Mercury Morris combo - or the Bleier Franco - combo - with many times with both on the field at the same time. Jones had an off year as far as breaking the big ones and other aspects. Some of that might have been by the lack of motion along the line of scrimmage that Lafleur had in the game plans last year - But I look forward to both that, the Jones down the sidelines passes and the Dillon up the middle for big gainers. All of that takes the pressure both off of the Oline when AR is forced to stand back there for 8 seconds. We are in an excellent position to be more of a multiple discipline offense this year rather than simply relying on Davante. We know when teams shut us down it was because they managed to hold Davante/AR to minimal damage. Even last year's playoff loss - Jones didnt finish the big play near the end of the first half like he normally has done.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 04, 2022 at 11:22 am

Dillon Jones had over 2300 yards of total offense, rushing and receiving, and put 17 TDs on the board. If Dillon Jones was one person, instead of two, it would have been one of the greatest seasons by a RB in NFL history. I see absolutely no reason to not keep doing what we're doing, because it's working really well and keeping people healthy for the season.

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