Five Green Bay Packers Players Who Aren’t Playing Up to Their 2021 Standards

The Green Bay Packers have already lost as many games in 2022 as they did in all of 2021. The difference is the team has played only seven games thus far this season, 10 fewer than they did a year ago.

There are many reasons for the downturn from injuries and mental mistakes to the absence of All Pro wide receiver Davante Adams.

But one of the major reasons for the team’s downturn is that many players on the current roster are not playing as well as they did a year ago. I know this list could be a lot longer than five players, but here are five Green Bay Packers who aren’t playing as well as they did a year ago.

The players on this list are not necessarily the only ones to blame for the downturn in their productivity. I address other factors involved in their play this season as well.

Feel free to name other players who you feel may belong on this list. Rookies are not eligible for this list since they didn’t play in the NFL a year ago.

Here are my top five along with the impact their drop in play has had:

5. ILB De’Vondre Campbell

Campbell enjoyed a career season in 2021 and earned All Pro honors for the first time in his six-year NFL career. He led the Packers with 146 total tackles and two sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

The former University of Minnesota star covered a lot of ground in the middle of the Green Bay defense and rarely allowed runners or receivers to gain yards after they got near his part of the field.

But this year, Campbell has not maintained his elite level of play. He had more missed tackles after four games in 2022 than he did in all of 2021. He just has not been as dominant as he was a year ago and he’s allowed 158 yards after catch in seven games this year after allowing just 203 in all of 2021 according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Campbell has started to play better the last couple of weeks but he still hasn’t been as dominant as he was last season and it has hurt both the team’s run defense and their zone pass defense. The fact that rookie Quay Walker is learning while he starts next to Campbell may be affecting Campbell’s game.

4. RB A.J. Dillon

Dillon gained a team-high 803 yards rushing last season despite only starting two games. He averaged 4.3-yards per carry and ran for five touchdowns.

This season, Dillon just doesn’t seem to be as difficult to tackle as he was a year ago. His average is down to 3.9. The yards after contact are also down according to pro-football-reference.com. Last year, the former Boston College star gained 2.2-yards after contact, this year it’s down to 1.4.

Dillon’s reduced production may be due in part to the offensive line’s struggles in run blocking, but Dillon needs to gain more yards after the tackle and run with more authority to get back to where he was a year ago.

3. OL Elgton Jenkins

Jenkins has the best reason for his drop off in play this season: he is less than a year removed from a season-ending knee injury which required surgery. When he returned, he was moved to a new position: right tackle.

The odds are good that Jenkins will be a very good right tackle once he’s fully recovered from the knee injury. He played well at left tackle in 2021 until he got hurt.

The Packers moved Jenkins to left guard last week against the Commanders. He earned Pro Bowl honors at that position in 2020. While he still struggled a bit, he looked sounder at guard than he did at right tackle.

Royce Newman’s struggles at right guard certainly didn’t help Jenkins’ play at right tackle. Newman struggled to pick up stunts and blitzes and that made life tougher for Jenkins.

The Packers are hoping Jenkins will return to form as he puts the injury in the rear view mirror.

2. QB Aaron Rodgers

The toughest thing for Aaron Rodgers is living up to his own past standards. The future Hall of Famer is coming off back-to-back NFL MVP seasons but his play this year has not matched expectations.

There are circumstances that are working against AR-12. He lost Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling from last season and injuries have slowed the current receiving corps who already lacked an elite WR1.

The offensive line has also struggled to protect Rodgers and he suffered a thumb injury on the final play of the London game that has hindered his accuracy.

But Rodgers hasn’t played well this season. He has missed open receivers or not thrown the ball their way. He has tried to force the ball downfield when he lacks the time and receivers to do that consistently and his audibles at the line of scrimmage have not always played to the offense’s strengths.

Before the season even started, he knew the team had a revamped receiving corps including three rookies but he failed to show up at voluntary OTAs to work with them.

Rodgers also seems to be pointing fingers at his teammates while not accepting responsibility for his own drop in play.

The Packers won’t be able to turn this season around if they don’t get better play from their quarterback even if he’s not to blame for all the issues facing the offense.

1. CB Eric Stokes

Eric Stokes was pressed into starting duty early in his rookie year and surprised a lot of people by performing extremely well in his first NFL season. The former Georgia star has outstanding speed and used it effectively to recover and catch up to receivers who may have gotten a step on him early in a pattern.

In 2021, opposing quarterbacks completed just 49.5 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Stokes and had a quarterback rating of just 71.3. Stokes was great in coverage but needed to improve his ball tracking skills after dropping many near interceptions.

This season, Stokes looks less confident both in coverage and in where he needs to be in the team’s defensive scheme.

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 85.7 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Stokes and have a quarterback rating of 131.2. His yards per target have gone up from 5.3-yards a year ago to 11.7 so far in 2022.

Stokes drop in play has been costly to the Packers pass defense this year. A return to form for Stokes would be a big help to the team.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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10 points

Comments (46)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

October 27, 2022 at 11:40 am

There's a good article out there about Dillon's reduced production which attributes it to the Packers' personnel usage. To sum it up quickly, the Packers are only using their Pony package (Jones and Dillon on the field at the same time) sparingly, and instead using one or the other most of the time. And when Dillon's on the field, they also have M. Lewis in there blocking--so opponents anticipate a run and plan accordingly.

From what I gather, Dillon may be the victim of analytics and a predictable offensive play calling. And maybe MLF should be using that Pony package a lot more often, especially in the second half to establish some continuity on offense.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 27, 2022 at 11:44 am

The problem with rating one's potential is the failure to allow for drop off from the level of performance achieved based on the one year of play. Then ignoring numerous other factors that helped create the play leading to the hyped potential, more often significantly higher than should have been thought.

The rookie plays great.
The vet plays great in contract year.
A 7 team vet seems rejuvenated.
Every WR is 'WOW'.
OL guys will always be what they were, post injury.
Defensive sacks can cloud the picture of defensive failings.

There are other things, but the calculator will always give you the answer you want because of what you decide to enter. There was much overhyped potential calculated based on one year and not the three-year rule typically used. Like draft picks, potential is more a miss than a hit, yet many use it recklessly.

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mnbadger's picture

October 27, 2022 at 12:37 pm

I missed your point?
Gil isn't comparing this year's performance to potential, he's comparing it to last year's known performance. He also touched on a number of extenuating circumstances that had a hand in the drop-off.
I agreed with the article, but would have liked to see it increased from 5 to 20 players.
GPG!

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 27, 2022 at 01:27 pm

The potential that was exuded from team and fan alike this season was high based on last seasons, and prior play, while ignoring my mentioned things as denied possibles.

Stokes was expected to progress, not digress based on the play he offered, as an example.
Many thought Bahkt would be, well, Bahkt.
Reed was to help shut down the run, yet, we get run over,
Rodgers would be MVP for 3rd time in a row.
Lazard would be Adams.

The reasons/issue are blatantly visible now, while the 13 win seasons covered much. We won 13 without Bahkt, and now his low play is a reason for the Offensive failings.

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jlc1's picture

October 27, 2022 at 05:19 pm

I know it's a typo but I love the image of Stokes "digressing" on the field. You know having philosophical discussions with WRs. Stokes the Stoic. Or "Hey, you Kant do that?" as the WR critiques his judgement on taking that angle. Or considering the Existential dread of dropping an easy one. So many exciting ways to reimagine what the hell, why the hell, he thinks he's doing down there.
Nah, the trash talj has to be a whole lot better.

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Roadrunner23's picture

October 27, 2022 at 11:53 am

Bench them all just for fun !

What the hell they have to lose besides another game.

This team isn’t gonna wake up until the shit hits the fan and apparently it hasn’t yet 

1 points
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Packers2020's picture

October 27, 2022 at 12:09 pm

I do agree on Stokes but interestingly enough we are #1 in pass yardage per game and #2 in total pass yardage given up. Part of that is teams run on us more than pass due to our defensive line that continues to give up chunks of yardage on the ground and is 27th in the league.

I would say Savage is another guy that just isn't getting it done. If we had a better safety next to Amos that would also help.

8 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 27, 2022 at 12:36 pm

I agree. Statistics don’t tell the whole story. We have not faced many teams with a good QB or have not been short on receivers. Also, why pass against us when you can run the ball efficiently?

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Swisch's picture

October 27, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Well, let's trade these guys to the Chiefs or Bills, see how they do there ;-).

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croatpackfan's picture

October 27, 2022 at 03:35 pm

You have one example already. MVS plays well, by reports. Better than he was Packer.

What that tells us?

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Since'61's picture

October 27, 2022 at 05:44 pm

It only took MVS 5 seasons to become a decent receiver. He still drops passes, just not as often. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Packers2020's picture

October 28, 2022 at 12:02 pm

Since 61",

I think losing MVS was huge for this offense. He took the top off the defense and we would have some deep pass potential. We have nothing like that now unless somehow Watson starts to elevate his game. I understand he did not have great hands but he still is better than anything we have currently with speed.

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Packers1985's picture

October 28, 2022 at 06:27 am

Lol it doesn't tell nothing because though he is expected to play well as he is a 5 year vet compared to what he was with GB and again looking at the 369 total yds he got so far he might end up the season with just 200 yds more than what he got in 2020 with GB(690).

But his yards per catch and TD were still less compared to what he got that year and also mind you he was injured and missed few games last year other wise would've had similar production like the yr before. To be frank his production with KC isn't much different than what is got with packers.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 27, 2022 at 12:30 pm

To play some Devil's Advocate....

1) If the assumption was that Jenkins wouldn't be ready to play for us until mid-season....and that was the assumption during the offseason....then I'd say he's exceeded expectations. If the assumption was that he'd be ready to play real well early in the season......maybe there was a problem with that assumption.

2) Rodgers hasn't played to MVP standards. There have been protection issues and issues with the receivers. I've always felt that if your QB plays well it's because he's had help. He'll either rally the team, because he's the leader, or he won't. We'll know more in a few weeks. If the team doesn't rally, we'll see Love and it'll be the end of the Rodgers Era. He'll retire, or get retired by an injury, and the cap hit isn't going to be nearly as dire as is being widely stated.

3) Stokes and Campbell are not playing as well as they did last year, you are correct there, too. Add in the usual group of guys that we complain about...like Lowry and Savage, and it's kind of miraculous that we're 14th in scoring defense (including the 14 points scored without the defense on the field) 8th in yards, and FIRST in pass defense.

There's not a team in the league that doesn't have guys starting that are worse than Campbell and Stokes.

4) Dillon. It does seem like the blocking isn't there for him, but it's the same blocking Jones is getting. My personal opinion is that against Buffalo, it should be a steady diet of Jones, Jones, Dillon, Jones. Jones is the best, most dependable playmaker we have and he should be getting the ball....A LOT. If we run 66 plays, about 30 of them should be to Jones. This isn't a knock on Dillon, it's just acknowledging that Jones is our best weapon right now. Maybe at some point, it'll be Dillon. It's a long season.

12 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 27, 2022 at 12:45 pm

I was not a fan of drafting Dillon in the second round. He was supposed to be an Eddy Lacy type back. He was also supposed to be the cold weather knock out punch. I like the guy for many reasons yet think that he was overdrafted. I was hoping that Hill was available after IR. As noted, defenses know it’s probably a run when Dillon is in the lineup. Add to that , he seems a tad slower and doesn’t break as many tackles as in the past. When we had Williams they did not know if they should key on the run. I kinda like the pony formation but it’s a lot of wear and tear on our only two RB’s

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Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2022 at 04:58 pm

We don’t do anything out of the pony except run or some form of shallow route to the edge. Ds just shrug and defend the run and horizontally as they do for our other formations. Good potential pointlessly used.

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T7Steve's picture

October 27, 2022 at 01:07 pm

I think Campbell will continue to improve as Walker improves. Last year he HAD to do it all although the now injured ILB (help me with the name -Burns?) improved as the season progressed and was pretty good on the run. He was the prefect #3 ILB starting the season, so it was too bad he was hurt.

Stoke and Savage have the speed and athleticism that you can't coach but don't seem to have the coaching they need. Stokes is better one on one and is starting to show attitude that also needs to be coached in the right direction.

Dillan is doomed if they can't do something with the MLF offensive scheme. They need to use him with AR under center even if he doesn't get many yards to start with to get the play action going. Do you remember the last time they ran play action? Think if they'd run that on the Douds pass against Washington. How many different plays would WFT have had to defend against?

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 27, 2022 at 02:16 pm

I'm being partially facetious here:

" Think if they'd run that on the Douds pass against Washington. How many different plays would WFT have had to defend against?"

For all we know, if they had done that, then Doubs would have had another drop. The scheme, the play-action, etc., is kind of irrelevant if we don't do the basic things correctly. Rodgers is correct. If you run 60 plays and have have people making simple mistakes on 12 of them, that's 1 out of 5, or basically on every single drive we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot once.

Last week, we had a sequence where instead of running on first down and maybe gain 3 yards, we passed, got penalized for holding and now it's first and 20. Jones had a nice gain of 7, but it's still 2nd and 13, which is worse than 2nd and 10, worse than 2nd and 7, and a lot worse than second and 3. We ended up punting. That's our season right there.

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T7Steve's picture

October 27, 2022 at 02:53 pm

I must have screwed up. I replied to your post a while ago but don't know where it went.

I agree. Have to catch the ball.

There were at least 2 defenders contesting that catch or around there. Would they have been there if it was run out of play action? Would it have been as difficult a throw and catch?

Why does it have to be so hard to get 1 yard? Even the fourth and fives they've made look too hard. Run the ball, shove it down their throats! It's happening every game lately.

3 points
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jlc1's picture

October 27, 2022 at 05:23 pm

Soft teams with soft leaders play softball, they don't jam anything down anybody's throat.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2022 at 03:50 pm

Who on the team has consistently played as well as last year? Jones and Crosby, and the LS and punter (who are different) and ….

Maybe it’s coaching more than anything ….

3 points
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stockholder's picture

October 27, 2022 at 01:07 pm

None of these guys are in danger of losing their job. It's just a little more Focus on what they're doing.

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 27, 2022 at 08:59 pm

They sure as hell should be. At the very least be made to sit a series for blatant missed assignments, including Gary.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 27, 2022 at 01:51 pm

Every year we seem to see some players drop off in performance from the previous year so that isn't earth shaking. However, it seems every year there are a number of players who exceed the previous years performance. I think Gary is playing a little better, but in both the offensive and defensive line play, I haven't noticed anyone jump out to me that appears to be balling out. I guess we could say the same for the coaching staff. I certainly haven't noticed any great innovations and the overall play on both sides of the ball looks diminished. While Special Teams seems a little better, it by no means is a head turner.

4 points
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Scott1369's picture

October 27, 2022 at 03:21 pm

I would love to see Dillon used in the I formation. Full head of steam hitting the line. The draw plays are not his style of running back. He is a pile mover.

9 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 27, 2022 at 03:40 pm

the OL can only make piles, no holes.

Therin lies the problem...

with alfred e newman stapled to the bench maybe there is some hope that the corpse will breathe again.

Bakh has to get over his owie. 2 years is plenty of time for healing. play or retire. it happens.

Jenkins back to LG is a step in the right direction, lets see if he is better suited for success at his old position at this point in time.

Myers needs to begin playing better than Creed Humphries. ...or gutey needs to start taking some serious heat for his boneheaded decision to draft myers over the more highly rated player at the same position when both were on the board at the gb pick.

Runyon became a starter at RG, he is back there again and hopefully the right side will see some stability now.

The rt position was a bit of a revolving door, but with Yosh looking serviceable at LT last season, the job is his to run with so long as Bakh can play.

If Yosh has to go to LT, Tom is the man at RT or Tom to LT and leave Yosh alone to grow at RT. Is it time to take a look at Walker or Jones at RT? They both played OK in the pre-season. Give 'em a chance if yosh is failing. Alfred e is NOT an option at RT.

With a serviceable OL, Dillon will be just fine.

3 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 27, 2022 at 05:12 pm

Blood, I like what you said and would give you a thumbs up for the overall comments. If I could give you two thumbs up I would just because I liked the "Bakh has to get over his owie."

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Johnblood27's picture

October 27, 2022 at 05:27 pm

keep on revving and put the tach in the red!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 28, 2022 at 09:54 am

Yeah, we just had a club even last weekend which was held at a neat winery up in the Paso Robles, CA area and a chance for us to let her wind up a bit. I have all the dash cams and radar stuff available, but in California, you put yourself at risk for a reckless driving ticket with loss of license for 6 months if they nail you going over 150. However, every once in a while all of us are willing to take a little risk.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 29, 2022 at 02:57 pm

isnt that what james dean said when he headed up to Paso?

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 27, 2022 at 09:01 pm

Internet tough guys are just the cutest aren't they?

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Johnblood27's picture

October 29, 2022 at 02:59 pm

...he typed from behind his nice safe keyboard...

toughness comes in a lot of forms, there are people tough physically, tough mentally and lots of things in between.

spit out what you mean mealy-mouth.

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MooPack's picture

October 27, 2022 at 07:29 pm

The RB's are not being used to their full potential. PERIOD. You can't give them a few handful of carries and expect them to go gang busters. RB's and linemen need a rhythm of runs to wear on the dline, find their tendencies, and keep them honest. None of that is happening. Stop checking out of those run calls. So they're creeping up, who cares. Show the opposing D that you are not intimidated. Get them on their heels. The holes will open. The short passing game isn't working, because everyone is crowding within 5-10 yards. Put the Analytics call sheet down. Your software doesn't take into account pure strength of will.

4 points
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Lphill's picture

October 27, 2022 at 07:34 pm

Packers need to use Dillon in a trade he doesn’t fit in this offense and can’t gain a yard when needed , if Hill is good to go then the run game is fine.

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 27, 2022 at 09:07 pm

Their play action usage is down over 25% from last year. Some of that is most likely due to Rodgers' thumb. Between that and not being able to hit much deep the inside running has been tough, if almost nonexistent the last couple of weeks because LaFleur isn't calling it. Also all the mental mistakes are putting them in tough spots as far as running it goes. If they clean some things up things should start to improve for him. IF

1 points
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Packers0808's picture

October 27, 2022 at 09:04 pm

Goodness never realized there were so many expert coaches who sat at home and did this great analyzing and fixing the Packers games and team.

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barutanseijin's picture

October 27, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Don’t like to hear fans talking football? Don’t come to a fan discussion board.

4 points
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Packers0808's picture

October 28, 2022 at 08:39 am

Don't like what some fans think about what others say then don't come to fans board.

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Savage57's picture

October 28, 2022 at 05:39 am

There are few things in life as pathetic as a fan tut-tutting his appeal to authority logical fallacy as rebuttal to another fan's opinion.

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Packers0808's picture

October 28, 2022 at 08:36 am

Read this stuff carefully and these are really not opinions many believe they actually have the fix is what I am getting at. I have never presumed being a Packer fan since 1958 that I have even thought I know more than a coach about plays or the attributes of individual players. These coaches see and do these things daily during the season and we see the product one day a week for an hour! That is my take.

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Packers0808's picture

October 28, 2022 at 08:37 am

Just like what you did with mine, right. So how does that make it any different?

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SinceLombardi's picture

October 27, 2022 at 10:31 pm

Very accurate

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Packerpasty's picture

October 28, 2022 at 09:52 am

I don't get MLF's love for Dillon..."quadzilla" is not the same this year, yet he keeps being featured by MLF...too much Door county food and wine has softened his approach to football now he's just a guy with big legs who doesn't do much with the ball...

-1 points
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coolhand's picture

October 28, 2022 at 11:07 am

This year especially he seems to go down easily for such a big man. He should be the one knocking linebackers on their butt, not the other way around.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 28, 2022 at 02:48 pm

Here are some of the reasons the Coach likes Dillon:

1) He has avail-ability, doesn't miss practices or games.
2) He's assignment sure, which is a rarity on this team.
3) He has more yards from scrimmage than anybody except Jones.
4) He's pretty good at hanging onto the ball.
5) He averages 4.2 yards per touch.

IMO, if the blocking improves, you'll see Dillon getting more yards.

0 points
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HarryHodag's picture

October 28, 2022 at 05:45 pm

Criticizing E. Jenkins is really, really dumb. He was hurt then thrust into a position he hasn't played. I hope someone apologizes after he excels at left guard.

Instead of jumping on Stokes, why not interpret it as the defensive coordinator has not given him the support he needs?

MLF changed Dillon's role. Last year they featured either Jones or Dillon. This year they're often paired together. Dillon is not a fullback. Also, has anyone taken a moment to reflect on how lousy the offensive line has been this year due to injuries?

0 points
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