Cory's Corner: Challenge Presented To Dillon

Entering his contract year, AJ Dillon is being asked to do more for this offense. 

The challenge has been presented. 

Now it’s up to AJ Dillon if he’s going to accept it. 

“This wasn’t the type of year and expectations that, not only he had for himself but from what I had for him and what others in this building had for him," said Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans. “I think that he’s the type of person, at least from what he's shown me, that he's going to respond to that challenge and come out and have a much more productive year. And you saw a lot of great things in spurts, but that was just the problem, it was just in spurts. It wasn't consistent, and that’s what our goal is.”

After skimming through that, one would think that Dillon played in only a handful of games last season. But he played in all 17, rushed for 770 yards and scored seven touchdowns. In three years as a pro football player, that’s the most rushing touchdowns he’s ever scored and he also notched 4.1 yards per attempt. 

What this comment tells me is that the Packers are pledging their full support to the running game. We all knew that this was bound to happen with Jordan Love starting a new era at quarterback for the Packers.

But the Packers aren’t just going to emphasize running the ball, they are going to emphasize their running backs as well. Aaron Jones and Dillon will be interchangeable No. 1 backs — with opportunities to catch and run. Plenty of misdirection and read-option plays will only enhance both ball carrier's opportunities. 

I’ve heard that Dillon will be upset about what Sirmans said, but I don’t see it. Dillon is the type that feeds off of challenges and now he knows that this offense expects a lot out of him this year. If anything, that should make him excited knowing that the Packers have faith in him to get the job done. 

Dillon has proven to many people that he is a versatile threat and if the Packers are going to compete for a playoff spot, the 2020 second round pick must run, catch and block well. He must also absorb and give hits as well as make defenders miss. 

He is being asked to do big things in 2023. Now we just have to sit back and see if he can improve on his career-best 3.44 average yards after contact from last year. 

If anyone is going to improve on that, it’s the guy with a pair of redwood trees for thighs. Just keep feeding him the ball. 
 

 

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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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NFL Categories: 
9 points
 

Comments (37)

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

May 20, 2023 at 06:29 am

Perhaps using him between the tackles from under center will help.

20 points
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Oppy's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:39 am

This is what I was going to say.

Rodgers liked to operate out of the shotgun because he felt it gave him the best best vantage point to read the defense. He also liked to run RPOs out of the shotgun because it gave him the best chance of avoiding taking the run, and if he didn't see a great passing option, he used the hand-off to the RB as an alternative vs. throwing the ball away or suffering an incomplete pass.

Dillon running out of the shotgun was a symptom of a QB who was more concerned with personal passing efficiency than team success.

I said what I said.

15 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:01 am

Oh, Oppy, do go on!

Lolz. You’re not kidding, man!

1 points
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TxFred's picture

May 20, 2023 at 12:36 pm

Rogers did the gun, cuz he lost his wheels. He was determined to do his self centered " chuck 'n duck" crap.

0 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:06 am

JFC.

LOL

(“It’s been 79 years.” gif)

0 points
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Guam's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:59 am

CW: I think Dillon has enough speed to do more than just run between the tackles, but I am in complete agreement about getting the ball from a QB under center. Dillon needs a couple of steps to get to full speed and take full advantage of his size and power. He rarely got that chance with a QB in shotgun because he had to stutter step and wait for the handoff (as Rodgers chose between run or pass).

If Love is under center more, this will have more impact on Dillon's game than anyone else on the team. He could have a big year for the Pack.

8 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

May 20, 2023 at 08:55 am

My sentiment exactly.

MLF (and probably Rodgers) running AJD off a shotgun snap is shooting blanks. It is similar to Barry playing Alexander the Great 9 yards off the X receiver on 3rd and 4.

Any video of it or playbook entry must be stricken from the histories.

5 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

May 20, 2023 at 03:34 pm

I-Formation with a lead dog, or the pro sets with Jones keeping the LBs thinking. He has to show up with better footwork. He stumbled a few times with wide open spaces and easy TDs foregone.

0 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:32 am

We have to lean on the RB'S. How about 3000+ yards total. Farve completed about 100 passes each year. Rodgers was never close to that. Use the talent that you have. And I think they should keep four RB'S to keep them fresh

4 points
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Oppy's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:42 am

While Jones and Dillon are both capable pass catchers, I'd really like to see our running backs do something that might be considered a bit controversial.. like run the ball.

I'd really like to see the Packers lean into the run game in 2023, if only to help lessen the burden on Love and keep the defense off the field a bit longer.

2 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:03 am

Chew that clock. RUN THE ROCK!

-1 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

May 20, 2023 at 09:03 am

We have the Oline to do just that. Of the top 6 on the depth chart going into camp, what the "unit" does best is run block.

I am not saying each potential starter is better at run vs pass blocking. But as the most important unit on the football team, the greatest synergy I see is with their run blocking. And they love to do it.

It is a punch them in the mouth, physical mindset that can dominate the Line of Scrimmage and help take over games early. Dare defenses to stop it, to crowd the box and open up the pass. Establishing the run makes the MLFs IOC so more effective.

1 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 09:53 am

Exactly, LP.

We need to recapture that attitude again. Make them pay.

Looks like we now may have the players to do just that on both sides of the ball, and STs.

-2 points
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croatpackfan's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:33 am

I'm not AJ Dillon's lawyer, but his best runs came when QB is under the center and he had time to reach certain level of speed (what is logical for his size).

It looks like he like contacts and is fairly good to add few more yards after the contact pushing defenders by his strenght and his massive body. As we all knows (or we all should know) the power of the contact depends of speed multiply with mass of the object in collision. That is the main trait AJ Dillion is willing to use, and he use it pretty good.

I have no doubts that additional year of training and practice will help him to improve. Opponents, be aware!

Go Pack Go!

10 points
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Swisch's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:14 am

Based on such physics, it would seem that the bigger the running back, the more that any hesitancy or slowness required of him before being handed the ball would be a hindrance.
So, it seems, not only has Dillon not been helped by the shotgun and RPO, but hampered more than smaller backs who can more easily start and stop and start again.
In other words, it would seem to take a bigger guy more time to get going, but when he does get going, look out!

1 points
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NickPerry's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:38 am

I'm really excited about what I THINK this offense is going to look like. I think the Packers do run the ball more this year. But what I want to see when they run the ball is Jordan Love under center. I think running Dillon out of shotgun has slowed him down.

In shotgun there's a slight pause it seems when the runner is handed the ball. What I want to see is AJ Dillon running from 7 yards deep and hitting the hole. I think he'll be able to generate that much more power and momentum so when he hits the hole and busts through, he'll be that much harder to tackle. Hopefully with that little bit of extra burst, those shoestring tackles that seem to trip him up are less and less.

Dillon and Joes will both exceed 1000 yards and have over 40 catches on their way to having an even BETTER all around offense in 2023.

12 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:57 am

A heavy, heavy dose of AJ Dillon, Aaron Jones & Lew Nichols lll would be the best plan LaFleur could employ throughout this 2023 season with Love in his first year as QB1.

Then spread out targets taking what opposing defenses will give us in the passing game with what remains, which will be a lot.

It’s all about building right now, learning the system and our team’s true capabilities. A dedicated running attack will buy us time to further develop WRs & TEs, and win us a bunch of games.

It’s also a great way to keep opposing high powered offenses pinned helplessly onto their own sidelines.

Win-Win.

2 points
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ReaganRulz's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:23 am

Dillon has always been a class act like when he got pushed by the police and he handled that so professionally in the moment and the months following. And for some of the guff that he got for being over-drafted, etc. He’s gone about his business and gets better every year. I fully expect him to take Sirman’s comments in a good light and will answer that on the field.

Also, I saw this video on TikTok from AJ’s wife. Thought it was really interesting and is one example of how wives help manage their hubby’s popularity. Good stuff for the game of football!!

https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRwgA8EV/

7 points
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Handsback's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:28 am

Rodgers ran the offense out of the shotgun formation. I don’t think Love will which will help both RBs. This is where we should see the major difference between MLF and AR running the offense and frankly it might take few games to see it evolve and become effective. Dillon should be the second half back and seeing flashes of him breaking through the LOS for 2 years means he can do it on a more consistent basis. Henry wasn’t the dominating back he has become his first two years, he grew into it just as Dillion will with the Packers. At least that is my hope. I’m not saying Dillon will be as good as Henry, just that he could be mentioned as one of the league’s toughest back to bring down.
Just MHO

3 points
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WD's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:59 am

The running game's chief weakness last year was running up the middle, particularly on short yard or goal line situations. Remember the Detroit game? So goes the offensive line; so goes the running game. I think we lack a dominating Center. Hopefully that improves. I would like to see Zach Tom compete for the Center position. In addition I would like to see Love make use of the QB sneak. That also requires a better than average Center to be effective. I am happy with our two running backs. I also would love to see Aaron Jones in the slot on occasion with Dillon as the single RB. Jones is a great receiver as well as a great RB. In fact both RB's are good receivers.

3 points
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mrtundra's picture

May 20, 2023 at 08:56 am

Zach Tom should compete for the Center spot on this roster. He will be better than Myers was, at it. Elgton Jenkins was really good at Center, also. Both guys are, IMO, better at C, than Myers is. Everyone here who says that we need the QB to operate under C, especially on running plays, is correct. Let our RBs, especially Dillon, get a head of steam going before he hits the Line and I predict that good things will happen for the GBP. GO PACK, GO!!!

1 points
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GregC's picture

May 20, 2023 at 09:21 am

Last I heard, the league average was 4.1 yards per carry, so that's just the problem. Dillon should be better than average. He's not going to be a 5 yards per carry guy, because he does most of his work in the middle of the field, but he can do better. It's going to be fascinating to see what this offense looks like with a different QB.

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

May 20, 2023 at 09:36 am

I agree. AJD is a prolific RB when his strengths are utilized. Handing off from to him from the shotgun is misuse...and MLF and Rodgers did it far too often. He needs to run downhill.

And when he is ground pounding the defense, his prowess as a sneaky good receiver becomes more effective.

2 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:24 am

Great stuff, Greg.

2 out of Dillons 3 seasons at Boston College AJ had a 5.3 ypc average.

Essentially a 4.9 sandwich with 5.3 bread (2017, 2018, 2019).

Add to that, no RB in NCAA football ran against more stacked boxes during that time. If I recall correctly, I think he faced stacked boxes on over 70% of his attempts.

Agree with Coldworld, yourself and everyone here that Love under C will be a positive change for the entire Packers O.

-1 points
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The_Baloney_Stops_Here's picture

May 20, 2023 at 03:05 pm

But why cant they give Dillon the ball oitside the numbers? Get him in space so he can feast on dbs like the Titans do with Henry.

1 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

May 20, 2023 at 09:24 am

This is a timely article by Cory ahead of OTA, Camp and Preseason.

This year could be best on AJD's resume date...and AJ's too.

The Pack is providing evidence they will run more.

1. Gutey drafted two TEs, when they are on the field are both threats to block or catch. Illusion of Complexity addition not present last year. Few D's respected Big Dog or Davis as a receiver when on the field. Tonyan was not respected or expected to make key blocks in the run game.

2. The two weakest links on the OL are Myers and Runyan. Both good in pass pro, but less so in run blocking. Stenovich confirmed Tom is in the mix for both C and RG. Tom is a very good run blocker. His quickness, feet and leverage are impressive in Wide Zone run blocking.

3. More run plays makes Love's first year learning curve as starter less steep.

4. Barry's D is weak against the run. The Packers best run defense will be the O keeping the D off the field with first downs and clock chewing scoring drives.

-2 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:09 am

LP, did you put hot sauce on you Cinnamon Toast Crunch this morning? Cuz, man, you’re en fuego!

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

I think we’ll see improvements on D this season just like we’re anticipating on O.

Every single defender added this offseason has RUN STOP as a strength:

DE Van Ness (best run stop in EDGE class)
DE/DT Wooden
DE/DT Brooks (more TFL than DT Jalen Carter)
OLB Cox Jr.
CB Valentine
S Johnson Jr.
S Moore (an assassin v run)

-1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:03 am

While I agree that a shotgun formation is not ideal for a power running play, I do think that a defense would also know that a run play is likely from that formation. Especially if Dillon was in the backfield. Yet I am all for pounding the rock in order to open the pass game.

1 points
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freddisch's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:23 am

GBs Oline was built to support a highly focused passing game. If you want to increase the emphasis on the running game , then you need O linemen who can run block. This is where GBs o line is weak, as evidenced by their lack of success in short yardage situations

3 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:34 am

The Packers run blocking to the right side was actually quite good.

Josh Myers and Jon Runyan killed us with pass blocking grades in the low 50s according to PFF.

We had a run adverse, non-compliant QB who insisted on being in shotgun.

Football Outsiders 2022 Directional OL stats in 411 carries:
Left End Ranking #14
Left Tackle Ranking #17
Mid/Guard Ranking #2 (45% frequency)
Right Tackle Ranking #3
Right End Ranking #8

-3 points
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MooPack's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:42 am

A more run focused offense.
QB under center more.
Dillon in a contract year.
A challenge from coach.
I see big things from Quadzilla!

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

May 20, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Let me see if I have this straight. Dillon averaged 3.4 yards after contact last year. Does this mean we couldn't get him to the Line of Scrimmage clean in 3rd and 2? Or does it mean that on those plays that were NOT short yardage he got something like 7.0 yards after contact? I'm perplexed.

He was sidelined for a few games his rookie year because he was on TheVirusList , but other than that, he's been available. He's a surprisingly agile receiver and I've seen him make plenty of difficult catches. He's caught 78% of the 84 passes that have been thrown his way, and not every throw was perfect. He gets over 8 yards per reception.

As a runner and receiver, he's carried the rock 483 times and only lost it once. He's dependable. The 'problem' is that this guy, Jones, who plays in front of him, is a really good player that you want on the field, so Dillon is only getting his number called 10 times/ game.

I'm going to throw out a name that some of the older guys will recognize: Keith Byars. He played for the Eagles and Dolphins, and he was 50+ catch guy for about 8 straight years, he rarely missed a game. Initially, he was a rusher, but evolved into a real good receiver. He was built like Dillon, and is about the same size, and when he started rolling downfield he was a problem for a 195 lb DB.

Maybe he should be a bigger part of the passing game I mean, he catches nearly 80% and gains over 8 yards on average. Are any of our WRs or TEs going to exceed those marks? What if we threw it to him 7 times a game and he caught 5 for 40 yards, times 17 games? That's 85 receptions for 700 yards!! That's better than either Watson or Doubs did last year.

As a rusher, there have been 9 games where he's had 15 or more carries. We're 9-0 and are 13-1 when he gets at least 12 carries!! As a coach, I think you have to get the ball in his hands more, and I think the most practical way to do that would be start Dillon and bring Jones in as a change-up guy in the redzone, because he's got such a good nose for the endzone.

1 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 01:18 pm

Leatherhead, I’ve been saying it for years. Run the ball 30-40 attempts per game between Jones & Dillon, and we walk up and grab that Lombardi Trophy.

-2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

May 20, 2023 at 02:00 pm

Well, the simplest way to move the ball upfield is give it to a real good runner and have the other guys block for him. I think I learned that in recess when I was about 6. In the Early Days, when guys like Jim Brown and Jim Taylor roamed the Earth, that was football, and even today, 7th grade football teams are about 80% runs or more.

Passing is more complicated (translation=easier to f*** up). Yes, you can get some big rewards, and it spreads out the defense, but you also get more negative plays (sacks, incompletions, turnovers, penalties, etc.)

When the 49ers crushed us in 2019, I saw the future. They only threw the ball like 10 times or something and won with Jimmy Garrapolo because they were able to get us blocked or moved out of position time after time after time. That was it for me. Run More, Pass Less. I started to see the value in guys like Lazard and Lewis not as receivers, but as extra offensive linemen/blockers. I compared Lazard to a fullback, a guy whose job it was to block on runs and catch a couple of passes.

Already, the RB ends up with the ball on 50% of our plays, so that's about 32 per game. 40 attempts would only be 8 more attempts between them, or given to perhaps a #3 RB.

But yes, I'm a big fan of letting the RBs do the work behind the best offensive line in the league. IMO, that's better than throwing it downfield 30 times a game. I also think if you have a 4 down mentality on offense, you only need to get a couple of yards on every play and you win the game.

1 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 02:43 pm

Yep.

Loved reading Greg Easterbrook back in the day. Some of his maxims were and remain priceless.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:27 pm

Whatever happened to him? Is there an archive of TMQ wisdom, because he was sure clued in. My favorite was "Stop Me Before I Blitz Again", which showed that sacrificing coverage for pressure resulted in a big play against you more often than it did a big play for you. That's also where I first heard of the Never Punt craziness, which showed 'statistically' that just not punting would improve your output and simultaneously decrease your opponents.

Edit: I consulted the Oracle and see that he hasn't done football in a couple of years. If you Wikipedia TMQ,
you can see the whole bullet point list. Here's a sample:

An emphasis on solid football fundamentals, as opposed to what Easterbrook considers an overemphasis on flashy, but risky, and often foolish plays, designed to obtain greater media coverage.

Bemoaning the tendency of teams to pass instead of run the football.

Analysis of coaching strategy and various excellent or atrocious plays and games.

Contending that most successful plays are usually the product of good offensive or defensive line play, rather than the prowess of any individual quarterback, running back or wide receiver.

Criticizing the overuse of the blitz

Commenting on coaches punting or kicking field goals instead of trying for first downs or touchdowns, which he mocks as "cowardly".

Mockery of most coaches in general, except for Bill Belichick with whom he has a conflicted relationship, due to his brilliant coaching yet recent ethical lapses.

Advocates a "no punting" strategy on 4th down plays, as well as going for a two-point conversion when trailing by one in the final seconds of a game, citing the higher expected value of a successful conversion vs. turning the ball over to the opponent, and bemoaning coaches who do not take the risk. The crux of Easterbrook's argument is that the average yards gained on a play is 5 yards. Analysts, however, have stated this theory is short-sighted, since it does not take into account the fact that 4th-and-short attempts usually face goal-line defenses; as such, the two-point conversion, which takes place only two yards from the end zone, is more likely to fail than not, with a 40% success rate.[6] Easterbrook disputes this analysis and claims that the real percentage is between 50% and 55%.

0 points
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TxFred's picture

May 20, 2023 at 12:40 pm

Dillon & Jones running from under center will make thr OL put shoulders in their blocks & actually open holes!! No more screening & pick 'n roll crap. No more shoulder pads optional crap.

1 points
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