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Cory's Corner: Packers Own Best RB Depth

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Cory's Corner: Packers Own Best RB Depth

Running back is one of the toughest positions to fill in the NFL.

Not because of talent, but because of attrition.

According to, there were 46 running backs that went on season-ending injured reserve last year. That’s fourth behind wide receivers (69), cornerbacks (61) and outside linebackers (51). That running back number includes David Johnson, Spencer Ware and Dalvin Cook.

With running backs being so hard to keep on the field, the Packers easily have the best running back depth in the NFL — and many in the league aren’t even aware of it.

The combination of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are shaping up to be a perfect ebb and flow, not to mention with a gentle dollop of Ty Montgomery — whatever his role turns out to be.

The Packers clearly don’t have the best back. That honor would go to Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott or Johnson.  But in this day and age of splitting carries, having a true featured back only goes so far when the backup’s talent level is vastly inferior.

Jones has exceptional vision and Williams’ staccato cuts are what will separate the Packers running game. Jones was 12thin yards after contact with 2.9 yards per attempt, which was ahead of Todd Gurley and Williams had 18 missed tackles last year. 

You can take it to the bank that barring injury, those numbers will rise. Jones has gotten thicker and Williams will see more golden opportunities with Aaron Rodgers back healthy.

It’s obvious that the Packers offense runs primarily on Rodgers, but the running game is what will win games. The running game proved last year with a pedestrian backup quarterback that it can be leaned on when it matters most. The win at Dallas and overtime win vs. Tampa Bay proved that.

We’ve all heard Mike McCarthy chirp about the need for the running game, how important it is and how the Packers should make that part of the offense matter. Of course, only to see the passing game throw it around the yard over 60 percent of the time, which is just a higher percentage for Rodgers to get injured.

With the current running back rolodex, there’s no reason why McCarthy cannot keep that number somewhat close to 50 percent. Jones and Williams are ascending players and should raise some eyebrows this season.

Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery may not be a Who’s Who of running backs in the NFL right now. But by the end of the season, everyone will know this trio because it is the best in the league.


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 is also nearing completion of a master's degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (42) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

Jones paired with Rodgers has got me drooling with possibilities for 2018. Rodgers has never had a RB like Aaron Jones. He's never had a RB with the vision, speed, ability to cut like he's got in Aaron Jones. As much as Rodgers loves to throw it around, I think he'll use a back like Jones to become even more lethal himself. Paired with Rodgers Jones can be really special. Paired with Williams the Packers have the ability to play against any type of defense in any kind of weather. Where they'll excel even more this year will be in the screen game. I can't wait to see what's new there. Maybe the Packers can get back to being one of the best screen teams in the NFL with those two.

Monty COULD be the ultimate weapon and I think Philbin will help McCarthy to better utilize a player like Montgomery. Having a TE who is actually one of the best blocking TE's in the NFL, a TE like Graham who's better than any TE Rodgers has got to play with, and a versatile piece like Montgomery who could end up being lined up anywhere is going to create a a ton of sleepless nights for DC's coming to Lambeau.

The options the Packers have with all of these RB's are going to be more than enough to make up for the receiving depth behind Adams and Cobb. This team will be the most versatile offense McCarthy has ever had.

Demon's picture

Didnt we say that the same thing last year? That the offense was going to be the most explosive, versatile in the MM era. Only to see Bennet and Kendricks wash out, Monty get hurt AGAIN!!, the O line get hurt and AR get hurt.

Ill curb my enthusiasm and let the games be played before getting too excited

cnordeen's picture

I’ll give you Bennett and Kendricks. But saying that you won’t be excited this year because of the injuries last year is ridiculous. Nobody can plan for injuries. Especially to our best player. Be excited. Enjoy it while you can. Rodgers only has so many years left.

DD's picture

Nick Perry: I do somewhat agree with your thoughts. The key will be MM ability to change with various schemes and predictability. If he does the Pack attack will be very formidable!!

PackEyedOptimist's picture

I don't know about "best in the NFL," but I DO believe it's the "best in Aaron Rodgers' career." That's good enough! I'm excited to see what impact this year's offensive line and second-year running backs and new offensive coordinator have.

Rossonero's picture

"The Packers clearly don’t have the best back. That honor would go to Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott or Johnson."

Don't forget about LeVeon Bell and Todd Gurley too.

Anytime someone discusses RBs though, the offensive line should be mentioned. Perhaps we'll run left slightly more until Bulaga comes back. Can McCray be a cog at RG too?

More than anything, the line needs health. I was dumbfounded last year when the season began and the O-line was ready ravaged by injuries.

TheVOR's picture

I know, talk about fantasy football. We don't even have an established blue chip RB on the roster, we have nothing but pure speculation and all that dreaded potential.

stockholder's picture

Agree with both. I only see Fresh Legs yet.

4thand1's picture

50% ? Did you say 50%? I don't see a MM team passing and running at a 50/50 clip. He'll use them a lot if the team has a 2 score lead late in a game like he always has, don't forget we drafted a punter. MM has never learned to put teams away, but we may have a defense to help.

Tarynfor12's picture

More than the 50% offensive balance that is a 'fantasy dream', what would be more important is how well they do on 1st down, 2nd down predictable play calling of MM. The 1st down run dictates success and last season we were bad as many screamed weekly about the run,run,pass when Rodgers played much less the running QB Hundley.
I still have nightmares about the constant 4 year east-west lacing runs of one Eddie' Fatman' Lacy on 1st and 2nd downs leaving a awesome 3 and 7+++++ way more than should have been but pig head MM calls them or as has been questioned,the play changing by Rodgers.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Only 36 words per sentence this time! I could almost understand it too.

Tarynfor12's picture

It's intentional....I figure many need a break from the same hum drum rhetoric. Think of it as a brain make you see and think better. At least get past the 'Packers are/have best this/that bs.....your welcome.

holmesmd's picture

That “fat man” could run over you like a bowling ball does a bowling pin. Keep it classy and have some respect for a young man who had 2 very good seasons for the Packers. It saddens me that he’s not as motivated to continue with football but the young man has gone thru many traumas and experienced substantial loss for such a young man. I hope he finds his way. You might try just being dissatisfied with lateral runs from a big power back, not fat shaming the man. Just sayin.....

Tarynfor12's picture

Sorry,but my Politically Correct tissue box has run out a long time ago. Athletes get my praise for what they get paid for and not the constant reminder of their hardships. we all have hardships and don't get the chances they do and then only,not always and not all, seem to quickly forget the sympathy many showered upon them. I don't really care how a person got where they are as much as I do what they do once arrived.

I have no intention of replenishing the tissues so save the sob stories for those who live in that world.of excuses.

Oppy's picture


Tarynfor12's picture

What is...that someone isn't so extremely liberal sensitive to everyone else's baggage of hardship. How many articles were posted about him being over weight with photos showing same. Being called out for being such. You can call it over weight, I'll call it what it is..fat and unable to perform what he signed on to do...while having a rack of ribs, a huge steak, eggs, pancakes for breakfast. Remember when many boasted about his hearty appetite...he ate himself out of GB...the fat lazy Lacy....period.

Spock's picture

Taryn, While that's harsh and I somewhat agree with you on the eating thing, the dude had issues. I'm never going to beat down on a man who had a lot of sh*t on his mind. I don't think he was so much 'lazy' as really not motivated to be a 'professional' athlete. Too bad as he could have been more successful if the desire was there. Nice guy, just didn't have the 'want to' to succeed. Actually, after writing that, I guess I'm more inclined to agree with your statement. Too bad, as the dude had talent. The pre-draft write-ups all said he was great on game day but didn't want to put in the work. I guess I've spent this whole time essentially agreeing with you after all. :)

Since '61's picture

Lacy's career in GB ended in the NFCCG in Seattle. He was completely ineffective down on the Seattle goal line early in the game. Probably because Seattle was smart enough not to have hamburgers and fries dangling from the goal post. In any case he was worthless as an RB from that game forward and now he is just Lacy who? No excuses. Thanks, Since '61

Oppy's picture

Disappointing is grown adults feeling the need to spend paragraphs defending their decisions to needlessly name call other adults.

Tarynfor12's picture

You need a safe space....paragraphs are frightening you.

Oppy's picture

Being frightened and being disgusted are two different things. But, hey, don't let me stop you from regurgitating meaningless catch phrases that hold no power.

GBPDAN1's picture

If our D plays good, we can be more patient and run the ball more. If our D plays bad like it had lately under Capers , we will need to score more which turns into passing more.

Our D should be improved this year. Would love to see a sustained, successful run game. It would make our Offense more balanced (obviously) and deadly. Aaron with a run game is lethal. The play action plays would be incredible . Hope the Oline gets settled on the right side. M. Lewis will help a lot.

Bure9620's picture

What really has me excited is the play action game, if Jones and Williams become what we think and forces defenses to key on the running game, Aaron Rodgers in play action is absolutely lethal. I always felt he is the best play action QB ever, as he can move and throw on the run like no one else.

Demon's picture

Have to disagree, steve Deberg the best play action QB ever!! No one else comes close. The way he hid the football was pure magic. Even would fool the camera men.

Oppy's picture

Rodgers has one of the worst hand-off feints I've ever seen. I mean, it's bad. Really bad.

Spock's picture

Oppy, I HATE just HATE that straight armed handoff. I get that the coaches want the RB to have the ball easily, but what I LOVED about Favre was his fake hand-offs. It always stopped the defense in their tracks. I don't understand why this 'deception' isn't used with Rodgers (?). It would make him even better (if that's possible) in the passing game. I do like when Rodgers uses the old Favre technique of 'fake throwing' a ball down the field after a 'real' handoff. :)

stockholder's picture

MM Chirping? More like squawking! And it's easy to see why. Especially with Monty going to rb. But let's look at the Offensive Line again here. You can't FORCE a square peg into a round hole. And thats whats been happening. This offensive line still stinks. You don't go to the super-bowl with a #13 Rated line that can't pertect and make holes. I blame the injuries to Monty, and -A-rod on them. You can't be happy with that. You don't need a good RB to run through a hole. The offensive line is being built with A-Rod in mind. Not running the ball. This is a pass oriented offense first. And when starters like Bulaga go down. Well it weakens the whole offense. TT tried Rb after Rb. And then he gets rid of his guards. We don't need lightning in a bottle. We need holes. Ball carriers that Hang onto the ball. The thunder has to be the OL. Not one Ball carrier is a threat! Until I see deep throws being caught. Screen passes being executed properly. Holes a tank could go in. A RB being part of a wall that STOPS A-rod from getting flushed. I'm not going to praise our depth. They will be the victims of poor blocking, BAD CALLS, and Cheap Shots.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I think the Rams, Giants, and Steelers might take issue with your assessment of which RB's are the league's best.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

The problem for the Packers is I only see one RB capable of being "The Guy," and that's Aaron Jones. "The Guy" must present a real threat on every down, thus preventing the defense from over-keying on the passing game.

We don't have a franchise back, and Jones is our only back with fairly high-level vision, moves, and burst.

This is a deep group, but a very pedestrian one.

holmesmd's picture

I think you may be premature on your assessment. All 3 rookies did some good stuff last year but they were ROOKIES. They will all get better & stronger. When have we had more potential talent at the RB position? Green & Levens? Lacy & Starks? I think this could become the best RB group the Packers have had in ages. Let’s see how it plays out!

Oppy's picture

Lacy should have been a punishing runner in his prime, but instead, he always wanted to play as though he was a 195 lbs scat-back. His spin move was used INSTEAD of instituting a punishing running style, and Lacy's short yardage attempts suffered as a result of it.

It was only Lacy's final, injury-laden year with the Packers that we saw the Eddie Lacy I feel like we should have always seen- the running back who put his pads down and dared the defense to engage him. Too many times Lacy left yards on the field because instead of running over a DB, he attempted to out-dance him.

Barnacle's picture

Wow, “we all know what happened after that”. People with NPD sometimes think their opinions and characterizations are universally accepted.

Some people believe Aaron Jones is better than all the other backs Jonathan just opined on.

MM probably agrees with Jonathan, the numbers suggest MM and Jonathan are missing the obvious.

Tarynfor12's picture

"At least we have a better stable than Detroit who brought in Blount"....

Tarynfor12's picture

Yes it's 2018 and your point is______I give up....please explain. : )

holmesmd's picture

Let’s see who emerges/ stays healthy in camp. Much of this conjecture is premature IMO. Shorts & hats won’t give us the final answers, TC will. I’ve heard good things about McCray & Spriggs. I think that’s fairly encouraging and better than the alternative.

TheBigCheeze's picture

.....don't even include minne-CHOKE-a in that mix.....we're gonna pound those punks in the ground......BOOK IT!!!!

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I remember a few of us warning everyone 3 years ago that the WR/TE positions were talent poor and drastically overrated.

Naturally, we were mocked, lynched, burned at the stake, and our ashes were stomped on by angry Ted-worshippers in midnight ceremonies.

We were right, of course, and today feels similar. Not that our RB group is nearly as bad or intolerably slow as any group containing Richard Rodgers (shudder...), but it is far from elite. Every team has several guys as good or better than Williams. Montgomery is a nice 3rd down Swiss Army Knife, but definitely not a skilled runner.

Jones can be good--he's the only one who has shown vision/moves/explosion potential--but many teams have someone like him. Mays is our only real hope of a decent backup threat.

So assuming skills development, I actually have it Jones-Mays-Montgomery-Williams, which is hardly a scary group.

Average at best. Now, will someone please escort me to my stake for burning? I have an appointment.

Since '61's picture

The running game will be the product of the OL's execution and how many running plays Rodgers calls at the LOS and RPOs. If a 50/50 run pass split will be achieved it will be because Rodgers permits it to happen not MM.

MM has not called a play in years while Rodgers has been at QB. MM at most sends in the player package and may call the formation but Rodgers is calling the plays at the LOS or RPO post-snap. IMO as long as Rodgers is the Packer's QB he will throw it more than run it unless he has 2-3 score lead in the 4th quarter.

The Packers are a pass first team and Rodgers is a pass first QB. MM is often blamed for giving up on the run game but he's not calling the plays, Rodgers is and when Rodgers sees one deep safety or 8 in the box he is going to call a pass play even in short yardage. When he sees 2 deep safeties he is going to hand off. It's not MM who is predictable it's Rodgers and it doesn't matter who the RBs are.

Hopefully we will see some differences with Philbin as OC but as long as Rodgers is QB expect to see more passes than runs regardless of what MM says about balance or commitment to the run or who the backs are. Posters complain that MM is run, run, pass. Yet with Rodgers the Packers are 60+%pass/40-%run. Those numbers say pass, pass,run or run, pass, pass so blaming MM for run, run, pass makes no sense at all.

Just watch the game and you can see what is happening. Rodgers is calling the plays and passing at least 60% of the time. As for our RBs, there ain't no Gale Sayers or Paul Hornung or Jim Brown in the group. There is however plenty of hype at this point as usual until the reality of the regular season arrives. Thanks, Since '61

Spock's picture

I like our RB's a lot. I really hope that Philbin has QB1 not going to the pass on RPO's unless the pass is the BEST option. I believe that Jones could be special. I read somewhere that his stats per carry were actually BETTER than Minnesota's Cook's stats. I love the two new TE's for the offense! I remember when MM had developed a whole season game plan around Finley (MM was a TE himself) and I bet he's smiling about using those unused plays (it was 2010 and -despite Finley being out- the Packers won the SB). I love that Lewis will be able to help block with the running game (I actually think Lewis may get more touches in the red zone than Graham) and I anticipate some long runs this year. Gosh, the Packers have so many weapons on offense this year and Rodgers with a "chip on his shoulder" (maybe multiple chips after the collarbone surgery, lol) the offense should be freaking near unstoppable!! I think the fact that the Packer's didn't draft a RB this years speaks volumes about their confidence in the 'in house' RB's.

4thand10's picture

I get the Jones love. Yes , the 5.5 yrs per carry jumps out. Yes, he can be electric when healthy. I'm still on the the Williams train until he takes himself off it, or Jones beats him out of starting. They both were rookies, and as a fan I was excited to see them get better and better. Hopefully that trend continues.
Williams had 813 yrds from scrimmage (run and pass) as a rookie and his catch rate was 73% according to pro football reference. Set the league on fire?? No, but pretty good for someone who is now 22 yrs old and I believe is only going to get better. I think what sold me on him was that it takes more than one to tackle him , he can pass block, he can catch. The Bears game when he was dragging like 4 Bears down the field was a thing of beauty.

I know those kinds of yards are not as exciting as breaking off one into the endzone untouched (Jones style). But I throughly enjoy watching a tough player drag opponents down the field morso the the quick untouched plan's. Granted they both have there place in the game, but I prefer t watch a RB take like 4-5 players down 4,5,6 yards until they can finally bring him down. I hope williams can do that again this year. I think it expresses a toughness, a toughness like " pack a lunch guys cause your going to be taking an ice bath after dealing with this dude". I'm about as hardcore a packer fan as on can be, but when I was watching Jacksonville just abusing New England, running the ball dragging patriot defenders and imposing their was a sweet thing to watch.They lost of course,and in my mind to some phantom PI and no PI calls , but I don't think they can feel bad about OWNing NE the majority of the game. I like running backs along with their Olineman that can take over a game, Can GB do it this year, I hope so, but. Have my reservations. Between the 2 of them Williams and Jones they had 1200 yards from scrimmage... which is good given the rookie factor tossed in there. I do have hope for this coming season.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Williams presents no threat whatsoever, meaning the defense can key exclusively on the QB. This team desperately needs explosive athletes on offense, not assignment-sure Clydesdales.

I'd run Jones, Jones, Jones, Montgomery, Mays, Jones, Jones, Jones...

...and let the defense sweat for change, rather than just tee off on our QB.

As for who starts, my confidence in McCarthy playing the right player in the right spot is, on a scale of 1-10, a solid -50. Whoever is the worst option, that player will start. Anyone else will be shipped off to Buffalo or San Diego to become a Pro Bowler.

We might as well cut Jones right now and let him go to a team that will give him some semblance of hope.

Johnblood27's picture

minus 50.

MMs weaknesses are obvious, any chance Philbin helps him address them amd he actually improves himself?

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"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
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