Cory's Corner: It's AJ Dillon's Time

Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL MVP.

But now it’s AJ Dillon’s time. 

He is built for postseason football at Lambeau Field. The meaty thighs, the powerful gait and the never-say-die attitude. Nobody wants to tackle the 6-foot, 247-pound freight train in good conditions. How willing will defenders be when temperatures are well below freezing? 

He showed what he can do a couple weeks ago when the weather gets chilly. Against Minnesota, he had 14 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Dillon also had a couple catches. In that game, Dillon had 10 touches in the second half. 

One of the main reasons Tampa Bay beat the Packers last year in the NFC title game wasn’t just because of Tom Brady. It was because of a running game that was just good enough. The Bucs had 24 carries for 76 yards and a score. Now those numbers are nothing special, but it kept Aaron Rodgers and the offense off the field.

Conversely, the Packers rushed for 67 yards on 16 carries in that game. Jamaal Williams had the most carries with seven. 

A winning formula in the playoffs begins and ends with the running game. Aaron Jones will be leaned on, but he has had a different year this season. He has topped 100 yards rushing only once this year and his usage has also been down. In 14 games last year, Jones had 201 carries and in 15 games this year, he has had 30 less totes.

Running Dillon between the tackles early doesn’t just set the tone for the type of game the defense is going to see. It will also set things up for the play-action later on.

I don’t care how good of a defensive front seven a team has. It can be Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Samson Ebukam. (Yes, I think the Packers will host the 49ers a week from now.) That defense is excellent by every measure. But after a while, it isn’t fun trying to tackle someone that big in the cold. 

But Dillon has proven that he isn’t just a grinder between the tackles. He can catch it out of the backfield and also make people miss. He just needs to nail down a nickname. Is it “Quadzilla”, “Quadfather”, “The Sauce” or my personal favorite as well as the Door County Chamber of Commerce’s favorite: “Chairman of the Door.” 

This is perfect. The playoffs are at home. The temperatures are going to be teeth-rattling. Whatever team has to come to Lambeau Field, they are going to be coming to a place that is about as unwelcoming as possible. There’s a legitimate chance of frostbite, the Packers have gone 8-0 this year in that building and you must be tasked with tackling someone like Dillon that gets three yards when he just falls forward.

The Packers are dynamic because of everything that Rodgers does. There is a need for a guy to do the dirty work and Dillon is that guy. Just give him the rock and watch defenses give tutorials in arm tackling. 

-------------------

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

NFL Categories: 
3 points

Comments (26)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
CoachDino's picture

January 15, 2022 at 06:56 am

I agree with a focus on more runs but I wouldn't do it at the expense of Jones but through a little more balanced offense. The defense was excellent in the 2nd half last year (NFCCG). It was all the fumble then 3 and outs down the stretch with AR insisting on passing at times on all 3 downs. So ya, mix in a run if nothing else but to rest the D. Both these backs are capable of kicking runs from inside to outside and not just running into wall at the line. So to your point GB can still run against stout run Dlines. IMO, I'd like to see the run setup a bit more through misdirection or even taking snaps from under the center. Seems most every pass play starts with players in motion, faking jet sweeps etc. The Packers Oline isn't built to just blow people off the line, its more beating them to a spot. Make sure the run call has the best chance for success. Mix in that misdirection more, I see AJD as a complete game RB but his value jumps late in the game when guys are tiring.

I would love to see more runs for both AJD and AJ carries but it still depends on the Defense as to its combination of personal and formation that will determine the best option. That's on AR to determine. My hope, as I see it as the best chance for success,is setting up the run with the pass, forcing defenses into lighter boxes and then running. As good as AJones and AJD are, AR and DaVante Addams are the strength of this offense and need to be the focus and perform in order to win.

What team other than maybe the Eagles are going to depend more on the run in the playoffs other than their QB (DAK,Brady,Murray, Stafford, and AR) Maybe SF to a degree.

Sure weather plays a factor and if its extreme weather it starts to make a difference but just like last years The best teams have the best QBs and depend heavily on the passing game in the playoffs. The Bucs didn't even combine for 100 yards running last year.

The SB is played in Warm weather or a dome. The days of playoff football beginning and ending with the run are over, Doesn't mean it can't happen where a team just ran the ball and won while scoring less than 20 points, but it would be an outlier/anomaly, the better the teams the better their QB/WRs usually are, The rules of the league now greatly in favor a Passing game.
Just look at where QB and WR s are drafted and paid vs RB. The most important attribute for an O'Lineman is by far Pass blocking over run blocking. Look how much smaller and faster LBs have become and how much speed and coverage determines CB value.

All that said yes, use AJD more just be sure to use him more at the right times.

3 points
3
0
Coldworld's picture

January 15, 2022 at 11:00 am

The key, I think, is more than just balance. It’s how the run element is used. Particularly in inclement cold weather the run isn’t just about yards, it’s about attrition. It’s paying it forward for later in the game, keeping Ds on the field. Power running is crucial to that. It’s also much harder to stop power in such conditions: when the ground is slick, momentum is magnified.

In those circumstances, a Dillon type can open opportunities for a Jones type just as much as in the passing game. I hope we see 2 back sets, I’d also like to see Deguara or Dafney used creatively with either. Tire and pull Ds up to the line and, critically for us, into the middle and Jones and the other catchers should thrive. Last year the Bucs spread flat and wide and it neutralized Jones and Adams.

If MVS is back, then we can also capitalize deep, as we did then. We have the weapons, can LaFleur involve them effectively and that starts with Dillon early I believe. Last year was an example of how not to approach that team on both sides of the ball.

3 points
3
0
Tundraboy's picture

January 15, 2022 at 09:56 pm

👍👍this.

1 points
1
0
Cubbygold's picture

January 15, 2022 at 07:16 am

I know this thinking is wrong and out of date... but I'd like to see this team play angry... play with a mindset that they're not going to allow a bad break or a bad call from the refs to ruin their season. I want them to come out punching and I want to see them looking to dominate like they can, not just win.

Even though that 'play angry' mindset is old school, I do think Dillon can play a big role in bringing that physicality to the game, especially in allowing the o-line to play aggressive rather than on their heels. I just hope someone on the defense can set that tone as well. Who is our Ray Lewis? Who is going to set the tone and motivate the group to rise to the moment?

Rodgers laid back leadership approach has some benefits/advantages, but I'd like this team to have a few other leaders emerge who bring a different energy to games like these.

5 points
5
0
PeteK's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:11 pm

Rodgers glaring at a WR who did not run the correct pattern is anything but laidback. As far as him laughing with some defenders, that's more of, "are you kidding me trying to get in my head". That's the part of his personality that I love.

2 points
3
1
Cubbygold's picture

January 15, 2022 at 02:57 pm

Any time the Packers are losing, the camera will always show Rodgers sitting on the bench alone. That's as passive a leader as they come.

1 points
1
0
Crankbait's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:13 pm

Yyour thinking is neither wrong nor out of date. The Packers as a whole have lacked this for a decade.

2 points
2
0
Tundraboy's picture

January 15, 2022 at 09:57 pm

Yep.

0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Nothing wrong with playing hard, playing aggressively, and playing to half a beat past the whistle.

4 points
4
0
Coldworld's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:37 pm

As long as one plays smart as well.

3 points
3
0
Spock's picture

January 15, 2022 at 08:05 am

IMHO QB12 (AR) needs to use all the teams weapons and not just do the "empty backfield" look on 2nd, 3rd or 4th down near the goal line. We've got two (2) backs who can pound the rock (AJ doesn't get enough credit for his toughness, IMO). Use them! I wouldn't mind some two back sets with one RB going out for a pass and the other ready to run the ball or pass protect. Keep the defense guessing!

3 points
3
0
Crankbait's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Precisely why we haven't been as successful in the red zone we always advertise what we are doing we don't fool anybody.

1 points
2
1
Swisch's picture

January 15, 2022 at 01:51 pm

If we at least have Dillon in the backfield, it keeps the defense honest.
If we then fake a handoff to Dillon, it's likely to draw a couple or more defenders away from another player to score the touchdown.
It's good to mix things up on offense, especially near the goal line, but the consistent threat of Dillon pounding the ball into the end zone is a mighty weapon.
Indeed, most of the time keep it simple and just give the ball directly to him (and, if necessary, push from behind).

1 points
1
0
Tundraboy's picture

January 15, 2022 at 10:00 pm

Like having Hornung and Taylor and not using them on short yardage Just dumb.

1 points
1
0
mrtundra's picture

January 15, 2022 at 08:08 am

It has been Dillon time for the last few weeks of the regular season. Pound the football with 28, often, in the game, and wear out the opponent's defense. Sounds good to me! It's time our offense showed the rest of the league what it can do. Dillon is a big part of that offense, but not the only part! We need everyone involved. Hopefully, Mr Moore will be back for the return game on STs. I love the heart of this team! GO PACK, GO!!!

8 points
8
0
Crankbait's picture

January 15, 2022 at 09:28 am

His time ?
Packers front line needs to run block much better. Dylan rarely gets a head of steam running vertical.

4 points
4
0
13TimeChamps's picture

January 15, 2022 at 09:42 am

They signed Bob Dylan?

4 points
5
1
dobber's picture

January 15, 2022 at 09:50 am

He runs Like A Rolling Stone...

4 points
6
2
13TimeChamps's picture

January 15, 2022 at 09:57 am

He'll have the defenders Blowing in the Wind.

4 points
6
2
jurp's picture

January 18, 2022 at 04:49 pm

And when we play the Rams, they'll be Tangled Up in Blue.

-1 points
0
1
PatrickGB's picture

January 15, 2022 at 06:22 pm

They got him for a song.

1 points
2
1
PeteK's picture

January 15, 2022 at 12:16 pm

It might help to spread the D out and then run Dillon. He has been successful this season, but I thought that I would see a few games similar to Titan game of last season.

1 points
3
2
Swisch's picture

January 15, 2022 at 10:02 am

(CAUTION: A long comment of questionable worth. Skeptical fans are urged to scroll past. Estimated time of scrolling is no more than five seconds.)
***
I'm rooting for Aaron Rodgers to put it all together as a quarterback and lead the Packers to a win in the Super Bowl -- but paradoxically, that may require him to have the humility and patience to do less.
Here's an article that may be good grist for discussion among fans here at CHTV:
https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/packers-friday-musings-fourth-quart...
***
The idea is not to tear down Rodgers for the past, but to prepare him for a better future.
It's not to dismiss his many great accomplishments for the Packers, but to elevate him to something more.
The key to me is for Rodgers to work with his head coach while realizing he's under his head coach. That doesn't mean Rodgers can't add some significant ideas during a game (discreetly), but ultimately the head coach sees the bigger picture with more clarity.
In any case, the head coach is the head coach, who is Matt LaFleur.
***
We don't know what happened between Rodgers and LaFleur last season against the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game late in the fourth quarter when it was first-and-goal from the 8-yard-line.
Did Rodgers basically go along with what LaFleur wanted in those three crucial plays that gained zero yards, or did he overrule him?
Perhaps at least one handoff to Dillon would have been advisable. Perhaps it would have made sense to run a play designed with Adams as a decoy and another player set up for a reception.
I like going to Adams, who is truly great. What I don't like is only going to Adams.
***
Another consideration is whether to go for it on fourth downs. It has to be LaFleur making the decisions without any negative reactions by Rodgers.
In all things, Rodgers must support his coach. If he has already been doing this all along, then great, If not, then Rodgers has to grow as a player and a person to understand his particular role and carry it out to the fullest.
***
It seems to me naive to ignore at least the possibility that Rodgers may not be the most coachable of quarterbacks.
As fans, we aren't likely to be told the inner dynamics between Rodgers and LaFleur in the biggest moments of the biggest games -- so we're left to make our best assessments. We may not be able to draw firm conclusions, but we can at least ask probing questions among ourselves in the best interest of the Packers as a team.
Most of all, we can urge Rodges to do things the right way, for his sake and ours. That doesn't guarantee a winning outcome, but does encourage its likelihood. If we lose, at least no regrets as to the process.
I'm truly hoping that whatever the various scenarios in these playoffs, Rodgers puts things together as a complete quarterback for his second Super Bowl, and for the good of all the Packers and their fans.
***
P.S. Building off my controversial comments from a recent article at CHTV: It struck me that hall-of-fame head coach Don Shula seemingly had his best success with the Colts not with Johnny Unitas but with Earl Morrall; and had his best success with the Dolphins not with Dan Marino but with Bob Griese and, again, Earl Morrall.
It's at least some evidence that it may be better at times when quarterbacks do less.
Quarterbacks with less spectacular skills may be less inclined to take the game too much on their own shoulders, and more inclined to rely on all their teammates to get the best result.
Those lesser quarterbacks can be excellent craftsman in their own right, including highly effective passers, who achieve great success individually and as team leaders (e.g. Griese, Montana, Brady).
Bart Starr wasn't just a game manager, He developed his passing to an outstanding level, and won the NFL MVP in 1966. A year later, he won the Ice Bowl relying not on Hornung and Taylor, but Mercein and Anderson. The in-season free agent Chuck Mercein, accounted for half of the 68 yards on the historic winning drive.
Along with his consistent success against formidable opponents in the Colts, Lions, and Bears, look at his stellar record in the playoffs against others like the Giants, Browns, Rams and Cowboys, including his touchdown-to-interception ratio.
I don't think the players of those teams would say the Packers overwhelmed them with superior talent. They likely went into those games thinking they should beat the Packers.
With that said, Starr's amazing win-loss record in the playoffs is 9-1 (without any wild-card weekends) -- the most impressive result being an unparalleled three championships in a row, and five in seven years.

4 points
8
4
Lphill's picture

January 15, 2022 at 04:28 pm

Dillon was under utilized last NFCCG can't make that mistake again, Super Bowl or bust!

4 points
6
2
TheBigCheeze's picture

January 15, 2022 at 05:48 pm

More screens to Dillon.... he'd be especially dangerous in the secondary....🧀🧀🧀

5 points
5
0
Avrumi's picture

January 18, 2022 at 03:04 pm

𝐈 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 $𝟏𝟒𝟎 𝐭𝐨 $𝟒𝟓𝟎 𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞. 𝐈 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐛 𝟑 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐨 𝐢𝐢𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐲 $𝟐𝟒𝟔𝟓𝟐 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐬 .

𝐒𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐲 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐇𝐄𝐑𝐄,,..,,... 𝘄𝘄𝘄.𝗟𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗝𝗼𝗯𝟮𝟰𝟳.𝗰𝗼𝗺

-1 points
0
1