Cory's Corner: Jonesin' For The Ball

Aaron Jones gets better as the game goes on. You just have to stick with him. 

I’ve said this last year and I’ll say it again. 

Aaron Jones is the most important person on the Packers offense. I know, I know. Aaron Rodgers was the MVP last year by throwing 48 touchdowns and only five picks. 

But Green Bay’s offense runs through No. 33. Through five games last year, Jones averaged 18.6 touches a game. He also had five rushing touchdowns and two receiving scores. This year, Jones is getting 17.4 touches a game, but he only has one rushing touchdown and three receiving touchdowns.

Last year, the Packers scored a touchdown on 77 percent of their trips to the red zone — which led the league. This year, Green Bay is getting a touchdown on only 55 percent of their red zone opportunities, which is good enough for 27th. 

And the reason why is the running game. The offense was so smooth last year because the play-action became effortless. Rodgers turned into a wizard and could’ve donned a blue hat with moons and stars on it with how well he tricked opposing defenses. 

The reason that happened is because play-action is a lot easier to sell when the offense isn’t one dimensional. Jones cracked the 100-yard mark for the first time this season on Sunday and that wouldn’t have happened if not for a 57-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter. 

The weather is going to turn soon. The Packers are going to need to lean on a solid running game to move the sticks and to provide some offensive consistency. Not to mention, the offense is only going through one person right now in Davante Adams and teams will start taking him away. 

With Dalvin Cook’s nagging ankle injury, I really think Jones is the best back in the NFC. And the reason is simple. You could take the plodding Ezekiel Elliott, but he isn’t nearly as versatile and you could argue that backup Tony Pollard is a better pure running back than Elliott. 

Jones can be split out wide, put in the slot or used as a traditional running back. There’s no reason not to throw it to him because he has a career catch percentage of 73. Jones also has seven rushes of 10 yards or more. But the main reason that Jones needs to get the ball is because of attrition. 

"I think the more you can put people in different spots so they're just not always in that same original alignment, it's just something we don't want them to be able to plan for," said Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. 

When Jones gets 11-20 carries a game, his yards per carry leapfrogs to five — eighth in the NFL and he has the NFL’s best yards per carry in the fourth quarter at a whopping 8.9. 

Jones may be 5-foot-9 and 208 pounds, but it seems like he’s 6-foot and 230. He’s a speedy grinder that gets better as the game goes on. 

You just have to keep feeding him. 

 
 

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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 (31)

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

October 12, 2021 at 06:41 am

Just keep brother Jones healthy, especially in January & February.
He is special.

Dillon, if he could learn "vision", wow..... instead he reminds me, often, of former 1st round pick Darrell Thompson, who often would close his eyes & just run into bodies on short yardage runs. Sometimes AJ does the same thing.

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dobber's picture

October 12, 2021 at 10:33 am

People see Dillon and equate him to Derrick Henry. I think he's less Henry and more Mike Alstott--who was a good back in his own right, but not the back Henry is.

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Gee's picture

October 12, 2021 at 05:26 pm

Thank You I never could place Dillon, was hoping it was Henry. He may 1 day but I really like the Alstott comparison.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 12, 2021 at 08:00 am

Aaron Jones is right where we want him for now.

He is getting his touches, he is a threat in the passing game.

He is healthy and full of p*ss and vinegar.

Keep in mind that the OL has not had exemplary grades at run blocking with the young kids and reserves playing starter minutes. They have pretty good grades on pass blocking, which can be aided by a veteran QB knowing how to shift protection, RB that are great in pass-pro and again - a veteran QB that moves well in the pocket and knows to get rid of the ball (most of the time when on-script). The HC has also helped with the game planning and play calling. It has been a team effort to keep the wheels ON the OL during these trying times.

Jenkins should return this week.
Myers should return this week.
Bakh will return in the very near future.

Then you will see the Aaron Jones of 2020 return with more explosive runs and more consistent 5-10 yard gains.

He is right where we want him, just like the Packers at 4-1. Let the season come to us.

It's bare week!!!!!!!

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dobber's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

I wouldn't bank on Myers being available this week. We'll have to see if he practices tomorrow, but a hand injury that completely kept him on the shelf last week--didn't practice at all--isn't something I would bank on being ready right away. I think Jenkins plays. My guess is that he could've played last week, but they kept him out to get his ankle closer to 100%...which leaves the question: if Jenkins plays and Myers doesn't, is Jenkins your LT or your C? I think that after Trey Hendrickson got good play against Nijman on Sunday, the Bears will put Mack over him regularly this Sunday iif Nijman is the LT.

Packers need to run the ball on Sunday. The Bears are first in the league in sacks, and it will be important to keep the offense balanced so they can't tee off. Putting a couple scores on the board will put a lot of pressure on Chicago's lousy offense.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 12, 2021 at 02:15 pm

Just me, but I'd keep Jenkins inside. He's an upgrade over Yosh at LT, but he's MORE of an upgrade vs. replacement anywhere else on the interior, and they can put Lewis/Deguara on the weak side to chip + run block.

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greengold's picture

October 12, 2021 at 04:37 pm

1000%

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

October 12, 2021 at 02:53 pm

Cory, why wasn't there even a mention of the OL and the differences between last season's and this season's OLs when you mentioned Jones' stats? Against the Bengals they were without 3 starters including their 2 best. And of course they lost the best C in the league in the off season.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 12, 2021 at 08:16 am

I have loved Jones since the minute they drafted him. I felt then he was the better back between him and Williams. Fast forward a few years and that has been proven to be correct. Jones is a matchup nightmare for defenses because as he showed in the past if he gets lined up out wide he is to fast for LB's. They have to basically put a CB on him, which puts them in defenses they don't want to be in. I love what Jones brings to our offense.
All that being said this offense isn't about Jones only. Its about the running game and the use of the RB's in the passing game. Each week Dillon's involvement in the offense has increased. The first 3 games he had 15 carries for 55 yards, 4 receptions for 23 yards. The last 2 games he has 23 carries for 111 yards, 5 receptions for 64 yards.

It was nice seeing Hill starting to get involved in the offense as well. They have a good trio of RB's and the way they use them in both the running and passing offense is vital to the offense.

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Since'61's picture

October 12, 2021 at 09:00 am

As I have posted since MLF arrived the Packers offense runs through Aaron Jones. He can score from anywhere on the field via the or the pass. He can come at the defense from the backfield, the slot or split and wide and creates matchup nightmares.

Once we get our OL starters back I think that we will see both Jones and our red zone offense become more effective. I also believe that MLF will open up the playbook once our OL is back together. He is probably trying to keep the OL assignments relatively simple due to the lack of experience in the OL at this time, especially in the red zone running game.

We’re 4-1 and we’re surviving the injury storm. Healthy starters will be returning shortly. GPG! Thanks, Since ‘61

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NickPerry's picture

October 12, 2021 at 09:28 am

"I also believe that MLF will open up the playbook once our OL is back together. He is probably trying to keep the OL assignments relatively simple due to the lack of experience in the OL at this time, especially in the red zone running game."

Excellent comment Since '61...I think you've brought up a great point. A rookie Center, Guard, and now a 3rd string LT. Once Bakhtiari gets back and Meyers and Jenkins are on the field, I think the offense will start to look more like the 2020 offense in the redzone and in play action.

Just looking at how well Meyers and Newman have looked already is a testament to not only good scouting by Gute and the rest of his staff, but also the coaching by Stenavich and the rest of the coaches on the Packers staff.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 12, 2021 at 10:42 am

AndI think that getting Dafny back will help. A good H/F back is what Matt has envisioned for this offense.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:18 am

That spot WAS Deguara's for the taking. He hasn't. I wonder if his ACL is still holding him back or if the injury has made him hesitant to play full speed. He is still a "rookie" of sorts but I am surprised he is now buried on the depth chart.

Someone needs to ask the Coach what is keeping him off the field.

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Coldworld's picture

October 12, 2021 at 03:35 pm

It was a small sample, but they seem to be using him differently thus far. He was blocking well last year. This year it seems he’s been used more as a TE than an H back. That could be part of the problem, though I suspect injury hangover is also a factor.

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Since'61's picture

October 12, 2021 at 02:23 pm

Nick I’m hoping that we get at least Jenkins back this week. I would put him back at LG since Nijman is doing a solid job at LT. Plus it’s good to get Nijman as many snaps as possible.

We Bak will return in a few more weeks and go straight back to LT. Nijman can become our swing tackle at that point.

As for Center I would stick with Patrick until Myers is ready. We don’t need Rodgers working with a 3rd Center in 3 successive weeks if we can avoid it.

As usual, you and I are pretty much on the same page. Be well. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

October 12, 2021 at 03:32 pm

I agree. Patrick did a good job at C. Better to let Meyers recover fully and I think Jenkins would improve the run blocking at G. That’s something Nijman is good at too. Could be a strength next week.

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jont's picture

October 12, 2021 at 09:23 am

Does anyone else get the impression that GB is using a simpler offense this year compared to last?
Maybe simpler isn't the right word, but it seems to me that there is less pre-snap motion and fewer plays with a guy in motion at the snap in the first five games than was typical last season.
If so, maybe Since'61 has it right-- that MLF will open up the playbook when Bakh and Jenkins are healthy-- or maybe this is the run-first offense MLF has often said he wants or maybe without MVS stretching the field options might be limited.
I don't know. NFL offenses are so complicated.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 12, 2021 at 10:44 am

Matt has said that he has dialed down the offense. It’s probably due to injuries and inexperience.

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dobber's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:01 am

True. They don't have the experience on the OL that they had a year ago. It's a smart move.

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Coldworld's picture

October 12, 2021 at 03:37 pm

They have a rookie C. That’s got to be a factor I would think. Rodgers is only starting to run options, but still not really a factor.

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dobber's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:04 am

" maybe this is the run-first offense MLF has often said he wants"

Even a year ago, there was plenty of sweep action/presnap motion on run plays. Keeping defenses moving and thinking rather than playing downhill, that's a staple of the McVay/Shanahan/LaFleur offense...or it was.

They'll split a TE or RB out wide on many plays and move them back in tight pre snap to give #12 a read on what the defense is going to do, but they've been mostly set at the snap, yes.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:33 am

Yes, I too have been noticing so far this year Matt's "Illusion of Complexity" has been substituted by a "Necessity of Simplicity". It was most evident Sunday...especially in the 4th Qtr and OT.

So many plays were the old MM "line them up and try to stop us" with 3 WRs bunched left or right...with no motion, and increasingly no play action. And when Rodgers wouldn't throw off the snap ..the handoff was the RB just diving into the line.

Getting Jenks, Bahkt, and Myers back should quickly add to the O play list. But I still do not understand the lack of motion and play action which Ds have to respect and gets AR quickly into the pocket to turn and fire.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 13, 2021 at 09:16 am

As much as I like Amari Rodgers as a slot option I don’t see him as much as a speed guy for the sweeps. But maybe with time in the system he will improve.

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jlc1's picture

October 12, 2021 at 10:32 am

no doubt about the importance of Jones. A couple of points that are also worth thinking about. How much do Dillon's touches add to or diminish the backfield contribution to the offense? Dillon is also a reason why Jones gets better later in the game, he is still fairly fresh. Also the OL is such a patchwork group running the ball is harder. They really had trouble getting anything on the ground against Cincy. This will probably get better with Jenkins back and then it will be time to really unleash Jones.

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greengold's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:03 am

"Jones cracked the 100-yard mark for the first time this season on Sunday and that wouldn’t have happened if not for a 57-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter. "

And, therein lies the problem.

The Packers have THREE premiere RBs. They can't get the touches. Aaron Jones only received 5 attempts in the 2nd half v. CIN. AJ Dillon only received 6.

Jones 2nd half: 14.4 ypc.
Dillon 2nd half: 6.6 ypc

They each had 11 rushing attempts for the entire game? At least Aaron Rodgers got his 39 passing attempts. Whew!

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Leatherhead's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:13 am

Run more, pass less.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 12, 2021 at 03:30 pm

Can't argue with simple logic.

A strong run game:

- controls TOP, keeping opposing offenses off the field and makes them one dimensional
- keeps your D fresh
- dictates defensive alignments, giving you more favorable looks in the air.

Having said all that, this hinges on your running game being effective. Outside of the long one Jones broke (which required him breaking through multiple tackles), the GB RBs were basically running into brick walls the 2nd half against the Bengals. If your running game can't produce positive yardage, you HAVE to pass because you're not bleeding enough clock on a 3-and-out on 3 rushing attempts to impact game flow.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 12, 2021 at 09:28 pm

What about the 30points per game....

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Leatherhead's picture

October 13, 2021 at 10:31 am

You can be a running team and score points. Look at the Redskins in the 80s.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 12, 2021 at 11:54 am

Regarding Jones' 100 yd rushing day:

"and that wouldn’t have happened if not for a 57-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter. "

OK. And the Packers would not have won the game without the FG in OT. I agree AJ and AJD need more touches, but for AJ to still get 100 yds shows how special he is.

Also on the run, the blocking at the line by Big Dog and Nijman was sublime. Big Dog completely stoned the outside rusher while Nijman did an outside/inside block where he ran left flipped his hips right and stoned the Tackle running left to tackle AJ. The hole was huge for AJ! And look at the replay...at the end of AJ 57 yd sprint, who was running right behind him? Yosh.

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Gee's picture

October 12, 2021 at 05:52 pm

Hmm let's hope maybe come winter, with Bakh back, they line up super jumbo. Have Yosh as the te, and just see what happens.

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