Cory's Corner: Jamaal Williams Can Be A Bellcow Back

Williams passed the test as a stand-alone back. 

Jamaal Williams has a tough spot to be in. 

He will never be as dynamic as Aaron Jones, who is faster and shiftier. However, on Sunday, Williams proved that he can be a legitimate three-down back in this league as the Packers cruised to a 35-20 win over the pathetic Texans. 

"Jamaal is a starter in our mind," said Packers coach Matt LaFleur. We feel like we have two (starters) and we feel like we have a great young talent in A.J. Dillon. So, we're really fortunate to have three guys that are capabale of carrying the load."

Coming into Sunday's game, the highest number of carries he had this season was eight in Weeks 2 and 4. Down in Houston, he had 19. That's the most he's had as a pro — his previous high was 16 carries his rookie season. 

But it isn't just his bruising running style. He had four catches for 37 yards. That was the third game this season that he has had at least four receptions. Williams does so many things well, why do we take him for granted?

You know how everyone has been asking if the Packers can bring back Aaron Jones? Now that Jones has missed six games due to injury in his short pro career, it's time to change the focus to Williams. He is an angry downhill runner that clearly has the love of his teammates. 

"Again, I've said this a lot, but I'm bringing it up time and time again because I just think he deserves so much credit for what he did in the offseason to get himself in this position," said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "He's such a talented guy. He obviously brings so much outside of the physical — the energy, the swag, the dancing moves that we all can try and copy or marvel at. He's an important, important part of what we're doing."

This is a contract year for both Jones and Williams. Accoring to OverTheCap.com, the Packers have $3.22 million in cap space for 2021. So, the Packers have a conundrum. Do they put their sole focus on Williams, knowing that Jones will be a much more expensive option or do they roll the dice and hope they can get both?

I personally don't think the Packers will have both next year. When Jones comes back to full health, he will continue his torrid pace and will demand at least $9 million a season. For comparison, Joe Mixon is averaging $12 million. However, Jones is currently sixth in the league by averaging 77.8 yards a game, while Mixon is 11th. Thanks to Christian McCaffery's astronomical deal that pays him an average of $16 million a year, versatile, dynamic running backs are getting paid. Jones isn't in that level, but I would be very surprised if his average salary isn't double digits. 

Which brings me back to Williams. The Packers needed to know how good of a player he could be as a stand-alone back. That happened on Sunday and it showed how much Williams is valued when he replaced Dexter Williams after the blocked punt. 

I think we are just scratching the surface on Williams. He has a lot more energy, swag and juice to come bubbling out of his electric persona. It is so obvious how much he loves this game and he is going to get rewarded for that. 

Sunday was more or less an internship for the Packers as well as the other 31 teams to see what Wiliams can do as the bellcow back. 

There is no question anymore. He can do it and succeed. 

 

 

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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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Bure9620's picture

October 27, 2020 at 07:14 am

He can.....we cannot afford Jones, plain and simple.. he will be in the "McCaffrey Lite" price range.....I would not be shocked to see Jones walk and they sign Williams to a reasonable deal, he is also more durable thoughnot sure about his price range....not to mention the upcoming FAs and also Jaire will be looking to get PAID if he continues to be the best corner in the league, yes better than Jalen Ramsey imo...it would simply be foolish to pay $13-15 mil for a RB up against the cap as we are especially considering his availability, never played 16 games

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 28, 2020 at 08:39 am

Jones played and started all 16 games last year.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 29, 2020 at 10:09 am

Two thumbs down for stating a fact...lol

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 27, 2020 at 06:38 am

Jamaal Williams probably made himself some money Sunday. That said, he is a low end starter. As a runner he simply isn't explosive enough to change game plans. He is a handy receiver who moves the chains, one that opposing DCs might well mention in planning but he doesn't demand safety or CB coverage - most teams will put a LB on him.

If he is GB's starter, that's a downgrade.

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Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:14 am

I agree, but he is a plus complimentary piece. That said, if Dillon comes on does he need to be? I suspect a lot depends on what others think. As the best receiving back and pass protecting back, his value is more than just as a runner in an offense where both are highly valued. D Williams is the fast one cut type, but may never see action. Williams, Dillon and a draft pick if Jones goes.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 28, 2020 at 05:09 am

If Dillon comes on I translate if Dillon is good enough to be the primary RB with Jamaal continuing in his complementary role.

I don't think we disagree about Jamaal. He made some money Sunday.

Cap is a long-term strategy. I don't blame Gute for not foreseeing Covid. In the absence of Covid, Gute would have $35M more to spend on re-signing players for 2021 ($23M for the expected reduction to $175M and $10M to $12M for the usual increase in the cap). With $35M, Gute could re-sign Bakh, King and Jones (and have some $ to spare), and by pruning some dead weight and restructures, sign Jamaal and Linsley (if his back issues don't legitimately scare him off). and some or all of the RFAs.

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Archie's picture

October 27, 2020 at 07:09 am

He's plays more like a FB than a #1 HB. Nice to have as a #2.

Let's hope Dillon has more wiggle than Williams.

Really need to find a way to sign Jones. W/o Jones, you double/triple Davontae and this offense shuts down. We need at least two dynamic skill players, excl QB1.

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stockholder's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:00 am

BG waited to long. Both have missed time. He won't sign either. Scheme, Luck, and speed. Don't add up to Big Bucks. Their ability to catch will be missed. Bg wants bigger, faster, and guys that move the pile. Over-paying rbs won't ever happen in GB. IMO. their more like Terdell Middleton. And with this OL changing. They might be better off someplace else.

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Guam's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:20 am

Unless the Packers cut some serious, under contract talent they are not resigning Bahk, Linsley or Jones. There simply is no where near enough cap room as all three will command significant contracts. With some juggling of Rodgers contract and perhaps others they maybe able to resign King or Williams, but likely not both. And juggling current contracts to make cap room in 2021 just pushes the cap issue into 2022 and 2023.

The Packers are going to take some serious hits this off season. The good news is they started drafting replacements this year (three O-linemen and Dillion) and will have to draft more next year. Lets hope they planned better than the Vikings who went from a playoff team last year to 1-6 this year due to a very bad cap situation.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:27 am

Win now, worry later.

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Guam's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:38 am

Its Gute job to worry about later......

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Leatherhead's picture

October 27, 2020 at 10:49 am

That’s what I’ve been thinking, but I go just a little farther. I think Williams will get a good enough offer in FA that it would be unwise to match it. I’m hoping that King is our priority because guys who can cover and tackle are crucial.

I don’t like juggling because it looks like poor planning.

I believe the plan is to put Jenkins at center and have Patrick and Runyon at guard and Turner and Wagner at tackle. And we’ll draft, and we’ll develop some guys already on the roster...so that’s our line for next year. Our backs will be Dillon, Ervin, and some Day 3 rookie or UDFA.

King, then, would be the sole remaining guy to sign. Maybe we can, or maybe were spending a high pick on a DB.

And that’s our situation. We’re going to lose several starters due to FA....that’s part of the downside to being in that. We got Smith and Smith and Amos and Turner and Wagner and Kirksey but we don’t have the money now to resign Bakhtiari, Linsley, Jones, Williams, or King. We kept Clark.

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Thegravedigger's picture

October 27, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Lets see what turner does against khalil mack and the top edge guys first. Cus jj watt is not what he used to be.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 27, 2020 at 10:16 pm

I wonder how free agent starter/core players are going to be on the market next year. At best, only a handful of NFL teams will escape the Cap. This could be a wild off season.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 28, 2020 at 05:14 am

This seems like a very plausible scenario. A lot depends on philosophy and how "win-now" Gute chooses to be: that is, how willing he is to mangle the cap and various contracts.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 27, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Gravedigger...... do you think that it’s possible that the personnel department looked at any film of Turner before they offered him a contract? And is it possible they’ve already seen what he looks like against top rushers?

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GeorgeMcRae's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:23 am

Nice one

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 27, 2020 at 08:55 am

I like Williams he is a good RB. We can get by with him. He will get the tough yards, and he has improved every year. His vision has improved. He is really good in the passing game. He has really good hands.

That all being said he is not a great RB though. He isn't one of the top backs in the league. He is not a guy who is going to get something out of nothing very often. That is what separates himself from the great RB's.

If used in a tandem Williams is very good. But he isn't a guy that will take over many games like Jones can. Williams and Jones do form a really good duo.

I like Williams. He is good. Just not a star.

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Lphill's picture

October 27, 2020 at 09:46 am

Rest Jones this week he won’t be needed against the Vikings , play Williams and Dillon more carries.

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madtowndan's picture

October 27, 2020 at 10:03 am

Corey - in the article, you ask "why do we take him for granted?" Who are you asking? Any Packer fan who has been watching games for the past couple seasons recognizes Williams' value, especially with his off-season focus on receiving this year. He's a dynamic and versatile back. Yes, Jones is the better of the two, but I've resigned myself to the fact that Jones won't be back with the Pack next season. Barring major injuries, I'm comfortable with Williams and Dillon as a one-two punch, and I'm counting on Dillon to figure it all out this year and be productive in '21.

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splitpea1's picture

October 27, 2020 at 11:14 am

Good article. There's nothing not to like about Jamaal; he's a valuable all-purpose back and he's fun to watch before the game.

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Lare's picture

October 27, 2020 at 11:16 am

If I were the Packers GM I would re-sign Williams because they're actually getting three players in one- a pretty good runner, a pretty good receiver and an excellent blocker.

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Thegravedigger's picture

October 27, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I love jamal. Lets make him the middle lb. Hes a passionate dude. The d needs a vocal leader. He can be the first 2 way player since deon.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 27, 2020 at 02:29 pm

I'm a lifelong Packer fan, but I do remember Chuck Bednarik.

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splitpea1's picture

October 27, 2020 at 03:33 pm

I'm not old enough to remember him, but that's one player that was definitely worth the price of a ticket. I read that his starting salary in 1949 was $7000 dollars, which equates to over $70000 in today's money. Quite a bargain!

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marpag1's picture

October 27, 2020 at 01:05 pm

The Texans are the WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE in terms of rushing yards allowed per attempt (5.2) and second worst (trailing only the JV squad from Dallas) in terms of total rushing yards allowed.

And against this pathetic run defense Jamaal Williams just averaged an extremely pedestrian 4.05 yards per carry. The average yards per carry in the league so far this year is 4.37.

Jamaal seems like a good guy and is an OK #2. Sub-par runner, OK receiver, decent in pass pro. He's done nothing to show that he should be a featured back.

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4thand10's picture

October 27, 2020 at 02:58 pm

He averaged 4.3 last year and made some pretty amazing touchdown catches .He doesnt shy away from contact, catches balls and is a great pass blocker. Early this season it was the all Aaron jones show .Not taking anything away from Jones...hes the obvious starter. But in my view...Williams is more durable and a between the tackles runner. Every team needs a tough runner that falls forward. As far as a future feature back, I'll wait a little on that until I see another game from him with 25+ touches. So far his whole career hes been splitting carries.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

October 27, 2020 at 01:12 pm

We tend to overvalue Jamal slightly because he's such a positive and energetic force on the team, but he's basically a backup running back. Doesn't have great speed or quick-twitch cut ability, not a guy to force the other team to scheme against. Jones is the guy to sign even at the expense of King and Williams. I hope Dillon was brought in to replace Jamal because Jones and Dillon are thunder and lightning, for the next 3 years.

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Lphill's picture

October 27, 2020 at 01:33 pm

I don't think the Packers re sign Jones, Williams, king or Bachteri , why invest in King of all people , he will always be that guy we got instead of TJ Watt.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

October 28, 2020 at 07:08 am

Williams brings a lot of energy to a game and can get those tough short yards. He is good at catching the ball, a good blocking back as well, and a good dependable #2 RB. He has a passion for football. Not the explosive runner like Jones but a reliable #2 RB that can step up and perform well when needed. Fun to watch him play.

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