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Cory's Corner: No Respect For Packers' Backfield

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Cory's Corner: No Respect For Packers' Backfield

Number 24? You have to be kidding me. 

ESPN ranked the NFL backfields and the Packers checked in at No. 24. For those wondering, there are only 32 teams in the NFL.

Now, you can look at the Packers’ quarterback and automatically think that the running back position will be overlooked because they have the best passer in the game. While Aaron Rodgers is the best passer, and arguably best player in the game right now, the running game has evolved into more than just an afterthought.

Even with Aaron Jones getting suspended for a couple games to start off the season, Green Bay is going to going to surprise people in the backfield. And from the looks of this flimsy ranking, it looks like the Packers have more people to surprise.

The only question mark is the right side of the offensive line. If Bryan Bulaga starts out the season on the PUP list, can Kyle Murphy hold down that right tackle spot?

Other than that, Jamaal Williams and Jones proved that they can carry the load. And both even worked well off each other. The added element is Ty Montgomery. His role has been under lock and key. I’m guessing he will be a third down back and also operate out of the slot, which is a huge advantage for Rodgers.

There’s no way the Packers have the No. 24 backfield in the NFL. That’s just absurd. There are plenty of holes on this team. Wide receiver depth, edge rusher consistency and secondary tackling are three main things that come to mind.

But running back reliance isn’t one of them. As long as coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers consistently feed those guys the ball, they will do just fine.


Cory Jennerjohn is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (39) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tim Backes's picture

While I disagree with the ranking, I understand it. The Packers' backfield is still largely untested. Aaron Jones played some great ball in relatively limited action last season, but it's still TBD if he can carry that production over into an entire season in a more featured role. Jamaal Williams played well when given opportunities but had a relatively low YPC and didn't do anything to draw big-time attention. Ty Montgomery is versatile and potentially dangerous but also regularly hurt and still hasn't been able to show his full potential in his new role.

I think by the time the season is over the Packers would rank higher on this list, but I also think the ranking is justified at the moment.

Lare's picture

The key to the Packers running game is if McCarthy and Rodgers can stick with it in games. Unfortunately, they're both pass-happy and looking for any excuse to pass the ball instead of running it, so I don't think the running game will ever get the chance to be consistent as long as they're making the decisions on plays.

Nick Perry's picture

I agree with Tim and Lare here. Jones, Williams, and especially Monty need to stay healthy and available to be effective. Plus how many of those runs are changed by Rodgers at the line. I would imagine this season until some receivers get up to speed they may actually use the running game more.

4thand1's picture

This is great, keep rating everything Packers low. AR at 10, no respect running game, defense, receivers. Every year they have the Packers as SB contenders , maybe this will light a fire under their asses. Nothing like bulletin board material, MM should use it.

Rak47's picture

100% with you on this one 4thand1. I love where the Packers are right now being totally overlooked by everyone. The offense has never been an issue with Rodgers but should be improved none the less. On defense the Packers have as much physical talent as almost any team in the league and have increased team speed on defense measurably. I think many people are in for a big surprise by this Packer team this year.

The Marathon Man's picture

As long as ESPN uses Mel Kiper Jr as its "draft guru", it will have zero credibility with me for anything involving the NFL.

Handsback's picture

Don't know but bet NE is also rated pretty low. Their running game is always steady enough...hopefully like Green Bay's this year.

Tundraboy's picture

I'm pretty confident with some health, and Philbin back, that we will see a far different result.

PatrickGB's picture

No doubt that the running game is underrated by the media. The media always make predictions based on their own half resourced bias. But I doubt that opponents will buy that narrative. And if they do then all the better for our team come game time. Yes, we will miss Jones for a couple of games and yes the right side of the line may not include last years starters right away but we have very capable backups.

cap'n kirk's picture

What exactly have they done, to deserve a higher ranking? AJ can be great, but needs to prove it through a full year, Williams is a JAG, & Montgomery is a WR. Take the Green & Gold glasses off, bud.

NitschkeFan's picture

"What exactly have they done", Agree completely. Young , mostly unknown, played for a losing team last season, so of course they are ranked as mediocre. As fans we see the potential and hope/expect that by this time next year everyone will know who they are.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I think the ranking is fair.

We have one decent threat (Jones) who is suspended 2 games already. We have a strong multi-purpose back in Montgomery who lacks running skills and proven health. Williams is a plodder with fine all-around technique but zero burst.

Outside of Jones, the only potential threat is Mays.

Guys, look around the league. Most teams have multiple threats, and many even have franchise backs.

24th sounds right to me.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I doubt the Packers running backs will see 8 in the box as often as most teams and have a better chance of pilling up yardage.

While our RB's may not keep defensive coordinators up at night, we have a couple of guys who are dependable and pretty darn good all around backs who can block as well.

Thebearsstillsuck's picture

I'm not going to pay for the ESPN insider crap. Bleacher report has them at 27. And for some reason put the Bengals lower. Character aside, I'd take Mixon or Giovanni Bernard over any of our backs. You could maybe put GB ahead of Seattle or Tampa Bay, but it's hard to argue with their ranking. Jamal Williams will never get any faster and I'm pretty sure he has already hit his ceiling, a suitable backup /injury replacement starter. I like Jones but between knee injuries and suspensions I think it's safe to say there's more questions than answers with him. And Montgomery is an absolute waste of a 3rd round pick in this offense, when he's not hurt. Another squad peg /round hole TT pick.

Just out of curiosity, where do you think they should be ranked?

Thebearsstillsuck's picture

Because last year, on 6 less carries then 2016, he averaged 3.8. I'm very familiar with what year it is, and I'm also familiar with the concept of a hybrid player. But the rest of those guys can fly, usually 4.3 or 4.4 speed. Usually a lot more shifty and a little smaller to. 1,400 total yards in 3 years doesn't do it for me out of a 3rd round pick, not when you see where half the top backs are drafted. He got around 900 yards in 2016, I'd be (happily) surprised if he comes close to that again

Oppy's picture

In 2017, Ty Montgomery played with an undesignated wrist injury that he acquired on September 24th. (which ended up being the reason listed for being put on IR on Dec 1st). Four days later during week 4 game action, he broke multiple ribs, which benched him for week 5.. after which he continued to play with broken ribs. Week 10, November 12th vs. the Bears he re-injured his broken ribs, that was his last game of the season.

He averaged 3.8 YPC over the 8 games he played in, 5 of those weeks with broken ribs and a bad wrist.

I'm certainly not holding that against a RB. That's actually pretty damn impressive. Again, with Montgomery, it all comes down to health, not skill.

Oppy's picture

Side note, I don't know how many of you have ever actually broken your ribs before.. I broke a single rib when I had and acute case of pneumonia just a few years ago. Every single cough resulted in the most intense pain I've ever experienced, bringing me to me knees, tears in eyes. It was a lousy 3-4 weeks of my life. All I could do was clench a firm pillow between my arm and rib cage and brace for the pain. Knowing that Monty had multiple broken ribs and played running back in the NFL each sunday made my skin crawl. The fact he did it at all, much less without coughing up the ball on any contact, and he managed to chalk up a respectable YPC doing it.. Hats off to Ty Montgomery. That is focus. He is a warrior.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I've had bruised ribs, none broken, and that was plenty painful and a sneeze was something to avoid.

I too am impressed with Montgomery's ability to play with great pain. I hope he does well this year and is injury free.

Tarynfor12's picture

The Packers run game, until they prove any level of consistent play and health...they are Fluff and Fold and the ranking of 24 may be generous still.

Tarynfor12's picture

Agree about the ranking crap but we've heard the more weapons for Rodgers every season, so saying that carries as much weight as the rankings.

Tundraboy's picture

Exactly. Unless the O line is a disaster or MM screws it all up, this Offense should roll.

DD's picture

Spade: Dont forget, we have MM. No problem? Oh my.

Johnblood27's picture

MM said they "took a scrub brush to the playbook".

not scrapped.

a polished turd is still crap.

MM is a lame duck.

Community Guy's picture

right Jonathan.. it's a passing league and the Packers have the best QB in the league. with AR under center, the Packers' runners will be used in pass blocking and route running, and, for draws and screens to keep the opposing teams' pass rush off-balance. i think one can compare Aaron Jones talent with Alvin Kamara's abilities but still: it is a passing league. Williams is ahead on pass blocking. in 2018, i expect a RB committee backfield and the leading rusher running for 650-850 yards.

Bedrock's picture

The ranking is likely due to those who either care about fantasy league stats or are predicting the stat totals for the running back group. Those ideas do not look at the effectiveness these running backs will have this upcoming season. We know how little of a running attack is needed for Aaron to be even more effective, and vice versa. These backs are tools for a highly efficient offense. So who cares what others rank them? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

marpag1's picture

This is every bit as important as Rodgers scoring a 99 rating on Madden. Whoop-de-doo.

cheesycowboy's picture

A more than fair assessment headed into training camp. Is Jones still in GB working out? That's the scary part.

Oppy's picture

I could be wrong, but I believe league suspensions for substance abuse policy only wipe out game day, and still permit the player to practice with the team (as well as participate in preseason games).

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I believe you're right. Players suspended for substance abuse, at the discretion of the team, can participate in all off-season and pre-season functions. They can practice, attend meetings, train, and participate in pre-season practices and games. When the regular season starts, suspended players cannot practice or play, but can train and attend all team meetings, and can attend practices but not participate. Suspended players can't appear in joint press conferences with team officials while suspended.

Players suspended for other reasons are subject to much harsher penalties, I think the off-season and pre-season rules are much the same. During the regular season they are banned from their home stadium: can't attend practices, meetings, games, club functions, or even receive game plans, club electronic devices, film, or playbooks. They can't have any contact with teammates or club officials. They cannot attend any NFL game, road or home. They cannot attend a news conference related to the NFL or their team.

Oppy's picture

If I'm not mistaken, the Packers were vocal in pushing the league to allow players with substance abuse dings to maintain access to team facilities and resources. If the NFL truly has the best interests of the individual with dependency/abuse problems at heart, the Packers argued, they need the support and structure to help keep them on the straight and narrow that the organizations provide. I believe Koren Robinson and Johnny Jolly situations were prime motivators for the Packers on their assertions. I also have a feeling it was something that Ted Thompson personally advocated for. He has always seemed to feel an obligation to the players that goes beyond playing football on the field.

BradHTX's picture

In a quick detour to the other "football," let me be the first to say — CroatPackFan, way to go, Croatia beating Russia. Čestitam!

DD's picture

Hard to believe the offense have a hole a wide receiver! Jordy could have been very valuable, even in the slot. So roll the dice, do or die. MM is a genius dont forget with offensive scheming and shrewdness. No problem with the new look offense. Anyone seen it yet? Big surprises coming????

HoLeCrap's picture

24 makes sense. First you had all new guys last year. Second those guys had to perform on a team lacking a qb - hundley. Team was playing catch up a lot taking run game out. These guys have talent they just haven't had the chance to gel yet. Not to mention mental Mike doesn't like to alternate backs. Remember lacy left lacy right lacy to the chicken wagon.

Packmaniac's picture

I’ll admit I have no idea where they should be ranked because I haven’t studied the backfields of the other 31 teams. I’m not making a call on a ranking unless I have legit knowledge of league backfields as a whole.

Pack88's picture

I can tell it is the lull before trainng camp; nail biting time. Who cares what the national media write- this is not the WWE- the game is played on the filed; should GB field a defnese like they did in 2010 and AR is feeling it I could carry the ball for the Packers and they would win 10 games. Only I don't know who we would drag out of mothballs for the playoff run like 44 in the Super-Bowl year!

Handsback's picture

Heck put the Packers at doesn't matter. When the games start and you start moving Monty around, the defense has to respond. That is what the offense wants is to provide a mismatch somewhere on the field to exploit.
It won't be like the Titans or the Cowboys (that have a cowbell runner who can break a run at any time) where you better have 8-man fronts to shut down the run....which will set-up the quick slants over the middle.
With the Packers, they (the defense) will give the RBs a 4-5 yard gain to stop Rodgers. Monty, Jones, or Williams don't put a huge scare in the coordinators heart until those 4-5 yard gains become 5-10 yard pops because the oline is controlling the LOS. Then Monty/Jones is moved to the slot and either a LB or SS covers him and finds him catching a pass and moving the ball 20 yards down the field. Then the defense goes skinny and bang another run up the middle or a stretch play gains 10 yards again.
It's how you run the ball and set-up the offense verses running totals that benefit the FFLs.
That is why NE never has a RB that is all-pro when they use different players for different situations. They make the running game effective....just not with a lot of running/receiving stats that can be pointed out as a huge ground game. They use it to set-up Brady...just like Green Bay will do to set-up Rodgers. Also, don't forget Rodgers usually has 300 yards a season running the ball as well.

SterlingSharpe's picture

Just win the Super Bowl, and these rankings don't mean squat.

Cheers, Since 69

Archie's picture

I like our backfield but I realize w/o 12, they would be quite ordinary and deserving of a 24 ranking. But the good news is they complement each other and as a whole, they complement 12 & the passing game very well. And we don't have much invested in them. The only weakness I see in the backfield is the limitations of MM's scheme and play calling. I hope 12 gets to play for a different HC while still in his prime and while still in GB. MM is a fraud, as we have witnessed when 12 went down and as we have witnessed when despite having 12, he can't get a WR open to save his life. I used to marvel in SS's early career how Holmgren could get him open all day even though he was 1 and only option in the offense at the time.

PatrickGB's picture

My hope and expectation is that the coaches fit the game plan to suit the team they are against and who is on the current roster for both teams. The coaches can make whoever plays to be the hero. If Williams is is then it’s pass pro time, if Monty it’s him moving out to the slot, if it’s Jones it’s a plan to suit his strengths.

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