Cory's Corner: Aaron Jones Is Ready To Explode

I enlisted in the Aaron Jones Army last season. 

I wanted Jones to get more touches last year and it looks like we are on the precipice of an incredible season. 

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur has made a commitment to the running game and the person that is going to benefit from that is Jones. But it won’t just be on the ground, Jones will do it all. 

Think Marshall Faulk Lite. Yeah, that’s sounds like hyperbole because Faulk was a Hall of Fame talent that had five-straight seasons of 80-plus receptions. 

Jones has the ability to get to the outside and that’s precisely where LaFleur wants to perfect his offense.

So what are fair expectations for Jones? I’m thinking 1,100 yards rushing with 11 rushing touchdowns in addition to 45 receptions and four touchdowns. Is that lofty from a guy that has never started more than eight games in a season in his short two-year career? Without a doubt, yes. 

However, after getting overlooked many times last year, it’s finally time for a breakthrough from the former fifth round pick. He had 22 rushes over 10 yards and he tallied 5.1 yards a carry in the second half of games last year. 

His vision and creativity should keep him on the field. And he has proven that he will do whatever is necessary to stay upright and keep the play moving.

Now, there is also a downside. He’s just 5-foot-9 and 208 pounds. He cannot absorb the amount of hits that he took last year, especially if he wants to be more involved in the passing game. 

And speaking of the passing game, I could see Jones splitting out wide on occasion to take advantage of potential mismatches. There’s no way that linebackers are going to stay with the shifty running back and when Aaron Rodgers sees that, he will carve opposing defenses up.

But what is most important to Jones’ success is the potential for more two tight end sets. Having a road grader like Marcedes Lewis actually doing what he does best will not only create running lanes, but it will soften up the secondary for the passing game.

This upcoming season will be predicated on a few things for the Packers. The marriage of Rodgers and LaFleur, the revamped pass rush and the running game. Jones will get plenty of opportunities this season and if he remains healthy, he’s going to explode. 

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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 (29)

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BoCallahan's picture

June 22, 2019 at 08:24 am

CJJ,
Those are incredible numbers. AJ would take those any season. He would be the breakout player of the year!

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4thand1's picture

June 22, 2019 at 08:27 am

AJ would've exploded last year , but MM had wet matches and couldn't light the wick.

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Bearmeat's picture

June 23, 2019 at 06:29 am

I disagree completely, for a couple reasons:

1. Look at the Shanahan zone running history: Every team except the Rams in 2017-2018 had two (or even three) backs split the load, at no more than a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio. And even with Gurley, who is a HOF talent, the Rams backed off his workload out of necessity for the last 30% of last year. This is going to be a RBBC offense, as MLF has said multiple times.

2. As you referenced yourself, Jones can't stay healthy. I don't want to see him get 300 plus touches. I don't want the offense running through him. Jones is like an old British racing car. Sexy as hell to watch, but you need to own two. One to drive and the other to be in the shop.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 22, 2019 at 08:43 am

Please just stay away from the weed .

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Nick Perry's picture

June 22, 2019 at 08:46 am

Cory brought up a point that absolutely drove me bat sh** crazy last season...2 TE sets and Marcedes Lewis.

Lewis came to the Packers last season after being the #1 ranked blocking TE the year before in Jacksonville. Having both Graham and Lewis, even in the later stages of their careers should have been huge last season for the Packers yet Lewis barely saw the field, even when Jones was running wild without him. I finally came to the understanding after years of defending McCarthy...He didn't know how to use a TE, not really.

The few times I remember Lewis on the field AND they gave Aaron Jones the ball the results were fantastic IIRC. This season I'm 100% certain MLF will know exactly what to do with a TE like Lewis and a RB like Jones. Jones didn't get to play against the Bears last year. This year WITH Lewis, a healthy O-Line I can't wait to watch Jones tear up the Bears defense. Not only that I can't wait to see what Rodgers can do in play-action with a coach like MLF and a commitment to the running game...LETHAL!

I have some concerns about Jones health but each season he's come in stronger and bigger. There's been plenty of RB's in the history of the NFL who have been the size of Jones and stayed on the field and were successful. If Jones gets around 250 carries and 45 receptions the Packers are going to be successful. Throw in Jammal Williams who I like and the new guy Dexter Williams the Packers have a nice group of RB's AND a coach who knows how to use them and the TE.

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flackcatcher's picture

June 22, 2019 at 04:46 pm

Can't blame that all of that on McCarthy. We all know Rodgers threw away the game plan after the Lions game. Most RPO under Rodgers became deep passes, outside of Graham no TE got a sniff, and as you say, the O line became a train wreck by the 10th game (my opinion) of last season. By the end, Rodgers was a physical and mental mess. And once that happened, this team was done. And lets not forget that Rodgers new contract ate up a lot of cap space to sign free agents. Gute signed what he could, but lost room to sign quality FA with Rodgers new contract. It is, what it is. Like most here, I am looking forward to see how the blocking scheme along with how MLF handles his RB rotation. I hope this team finds a FB. Rodgers needs a second back for play action and to protect his backside. One of Rodgers major flaws seems he can't feel the backside pressure coming. I don't know whether it is age, or just being plain old stubborn. That's a major issue that MLF has to fix, one the McCarthy was unable, or unwilling to tackle. ( now if the Packers can only find a way to keep Jones healthy......)

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Leatherhead's picture

June 23, 2019 at 12:06 am

Lewis played most of his snaps in a double TE set, and the beauty of that is that a seven man line creates 8 gaps. Meaning you have to man up on the two WRs (Adams and Allison, for example) and play single safety because you need guys up on the line. to fill all those gaps.

It also spreads that defensive line out so that if you can get a back to line cleanly he has a chance to break a long run.

I hope we see it a bunch this year. Instead of that 3-1-1- pistol as our base offense, use the 2-2-1 about 50% of the time.

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Daren726's picture

June 22, 2019 at 09:51 am

As long as they use all three backs to their strengths, Jones should last the year and get plenty of carries and catches. He came in stronger to camp again so I think he realizes his injury prone tendency and is doing everything he can to combat it. With Lafleur’s new offense, he should flourish.

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Coldworld's picture

June 22, 2019 at 12:16 pm

It sounds like Jones has upped his conditioning considerably this year. That should improve his chances of staying healthy.

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Samson's picture

June 22, 2019 at 10:07 am

"1,100 yards rushing with 11 rushing touchdowns in addition to 45 receptions and four touchdowns"

Lofty goals.-- But... how many touches per game? -- I'm leery of Jones being overused & unavailable at peak level for the finish of the season & the playoffs. -- Both J. Williams & D. Williams need to see the field. -- Not sure Jones can last a season (at peak) taking too many hits.

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Packers2019's picture

June 24, 2019 at 09:00 am

Samson,

If he averages 5 yards per carry like the last 2 years that would be 220 touches which would be about 14 carries per game. I think MM was giving him about 9 to 10 per game. Not out of the question to give him another 5 carriers.

Also, he may get more touches per game or less depending on what the defenses is doing.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 22, 2019 at 10:11 am

I think Jones will absolutely thrive in MLs wide zone blocking run game, especially with 2 TEs in the formation which Matt uses alot.

I expect we will also see some 3 TE formations...because Sternberger, Graham, and Tonyan can all stretch the field and exploit matchup problems.

The Williams duo with AJ leading the way can make the RB group special for a HC that actually invests in the run game.

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Nononsense's picture

June 22, 2019 at 10:21 am

I wouldn't call Jones injury prone, hes had 3 torn MCLs and I believe 2 of them happened on Soldier field turf. So maybe, just for the first game they would be wise to lean a bit more heavily on Jamal and Dexter so we dont lose AJ in the first game.

I have no doubt Jones will be a break out player this year, hes such an explosive RB with great patience and vision. A perfect fit for the outside zone. Getting him the ball in space in the passing game will just be icing on his breakout cake.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

June 22, 2019 at 11:05 am

I like the way he talks; I like the way he runs. I think he will outperform the last super running back we had, Ahman Green, this year and finally get the Packers back to the playoffs where they deserve to be.

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marpag1's picture

June 22, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Whoa there, Seabiscuit. ;)

Outperform Ahman Green? From the time the Packers acquired Green in 2000 until he blew out his knee in 2005, Ahman gained more yards from scrimmage than any other player in the NFL. He *averaged* more than 1800 yards from scrimmage per year during that time, and scored 61 total touchdowns. Aaron Jones will do better than that?

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Adorabelle's picture

June 22, 2019 at 01:26 pm

Marpag beat me to it. I don't see any way Aaron Jones gets 355 carries for 1883 rushing yards like Ahman Green had in 2003. And for a 6 year period his lowest total yards was over 1400 combined rushing and receiving yards and over 300 total touches.

I like Jones but he's not going to that level. If he holds up for 200 carries and 50 catches Id be ecstatic. He did have some high carry seasons in college but he also spent one year out hurt.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2019 at 08:56 pm

Greens 2003 season was one of the very best by a running back in the 20 years. I’m talking top 5, easily.

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Springer's picture

June 24, 2019 at 03:57 am

LT, Alexander, Larry Johnson, Priest Holmes, CJ2K, AD, Zeke, Murray, Charles have all had bigger years and I'm probably forgetting some... I mean Jamal Lewis arguably had a better year than Green that year.

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marpag1's picture

June 24, 2019 at 09:05 am

Ahman's 2,250 yards from scrimmage in 2003 ranks 14th all-time. Players who have had more are A. Peterson, B. Sanders, C Johnson, D. Murray, E. James, J Lewis, L. Tomlinson (2 times), M. Allen, M. Faulk, P. Holmes, S. Jackson and T Barber.

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Packer_Fan's picture

June 22, 2019 at 12:25 pm

I believe Jones has the skills to be explosive. But I would be cautious on how LaFluer uses him. I think lining up for a half yard to get a first down with a three tight end set is not the best use. Williams is better for the short yardage. Opening up the defense with a spread out set, I believe Jones was very good at that. And also how many times a game. 30 touches would be a lot. I would say 15 carries and 8 passes would be the most . Or about 200 carries and 120 pass targets for a whole year. Keeps him fresher and less chance for being hurt.

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Since'61's picture

June 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm

I’m not sure that Jones can make it through the season with more than 12-15 touches per game. If that is true Jones won’t reach the lofty goals which Cory has predicted for him.

Maybe 2019 will be the season when Jones remains healthy but we’ll need to see it first. I would prefer to see the Packers work both Williams into the offense early in the season and maintaining Jones with 12-15 touches per game until the second half of the season and hopefully a playoff run. It would be painful to have Jones injured when we would need him the most either prior to or during the playoffs.

Better to have a breakout season for the RBs as a group than to lose the best of the bunch due to overuse on meaningless touches. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2019 at 02:58 pm

8 of the 9 teams that ran it at least 450 times last year made the playoffs. That's about 27 rushes/game.

Only a handful of the top backs the league approached the numbers you suggested (11 TDs/1100 yards, 45 receptions.) : Elliot, Barkley, Gurley.

I'd much more favor more of a team approach rather than put so much on the shoulders of one guy with an injury history. Particularly early in the season, I'd let other guys carry the rock more and use Jones as a change of pace back so he'd be healthy from Thanksgiving through the playoffs.

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Lphill's picture

June 22, 2019 at 03:16 pm

I like Jones I met him about a month ago he looks more like a rapper than a football player I think he needs a lot of time in the weight room , if I didn’t know who he was I would never have thought he was a athlete.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 22, 2019 at 04:23 pm

I met Larry Csonka in the airport several years ago. He definitely looked like a guy that would be hard to get on the ground.....still....and he was in his 60s.

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baldski's picture

June 22, 2019 at 10:50 pm

I met Howie Long over 20 years ago in Dulles airport and I do not know how old he was then but I would hate to have him chasing my ass behind the line. By the way, he was extremely cordial and just exuded class with a capital "C",

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wildbill's picture

June 22, 2019 at 07:38 pm

Csonka was a beast. I live where Bob Griese grew up so they showed a lot of Dolphin games when those two played together. Both don’t get enough credit for their skill levels

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Ryan3468's picture

June 22, 2019 at 11:34 pm

As long as Jones is used properly and used often. He is built for speed and agility. It’d be nice if Green Bay had a hammer. I like that two tight end set and Jones making defenses respect the outside runs. Off the offensive line does well, Sky is the limit for the whole offense. It’s a good time to be excited about football!

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

June 23, 2019 at 01:33 pm

That means he will tear his ACL and out for the season. Stop jinxing the players before the season even starts. Were going to th he Super Bowl and were gonna win it all by a massive amount of points!! Pack is poised to be the best in 2019. I mean stop it already. Have done ia better than have said.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

June 24, 2019 at 04:20 am

Aaron Jones is my break out player of 2019, as long as he can remain healthy. No doubt his talents were not used well last year. Time will tell whether he lives up to the expectations of the challenges that lie ahead for 2019 and beyond.

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