Game Changing Play of the Week: Long Aaron Jones Run Gives Packers Fast Start They Needed

Aaron Jones' big run set the Packers up for a hot first-quarter start.

Boy, was it ever nice to come out of watching a Packer game and not feel about 10 years older. It’s not just that the Packers haven’t been fun to watch this year—it’s that they’ve been actively exhausting to watch.

This week against the Dolphins was a game the Packers absolutely had to have, and had to impress in, to prove there’s at least a prayer they can turn their season around. While the team certainly had its struggles, it came out well ahead of a Dolphins team it was supposed to defeat soundly. It’s an encouraging sign, though certainly not yet an indicator that this is a team that’s going to be capable of pushing for a title.

A hallmark of the Packers’ season so far this year has been horrendously slow starts. The Packers needed to get out and score quickly, something they almost bungled early on until they were able to benefit from a botched snap by the Dolphins’ offense.

Aaron Jones was the star of the day. Though he only carried the ball 14 times, he finished with more than 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also had the big run that did the heavy lifting in propelling the Packers to the fast start they needed.

The context

First quarters have not been great for the Packers for much of this season. Miami went down the field relatively easily on its first drive, but fumbled a snap. They then went down the field to get a field goal. You could forgive Packer fans for being nervous that a Brock Osweiler-led offense was able to get within striking distance on the Packers multiple times in the first quarter.

A touchdown on this drive would put the Packers ahead by two scores, which is a lot for a dismal quarterback to be expected to overcome, even in just the first quarter. Jones got the Packers most of the way there on this run, one that is characterized just as much by the Dolphins’ defensive ineptitude on the play as it is by Jones’ excellence and some outstanding run blocking by the Packers’ offensive line.

The play

The setup for the play is relatively simple—two split out left, Jimmy Graham with his hand in the dirt on the line, and Marquez Valdez-Scantling lined up tight just off his right shoulder. It’s a singleback look for Jones, who’s looking for a hole right up the middle. He gets it.

Here you can see the formation of the excellent sealing blocks, with Corey Linsley and Lane Taylor doubling their man to the left and Bryan Bulaga and Byron Bell doubling their man to the right. This is executed to perfection, allowing Jones to burst up the hole untouched.

The fact that Jones is completely untouched is crucial, because of what you’ll see in the next couple photos.

Both the circled defensive backs here are really slow to react to the play. Watch it in real time and you’ll see what I mean. They each push straight forward as though they’re going for outside containment, even though Jones is already heading straight up the middle.

If Jones is touched by one of the defenders at the line or held up behind is blockers, then they probably have a chance to reset their feet and take the correct angle. But the perfect blocking at the line lets Jones burst straight through, and these two never even have an opportunity to get to him.

The linebackers also both come crashing down, and by the time Jones is at the line of scrimmage, they don’t have a prayer of being able to reach him.

A hair later. Here, you can see the safety in the back has completely fallen down, which essentially takes him out of the play even before Jones is within 10 yards of him. You can also see once again what being so late to react to the direction of the play does to the defensive backs who were circled in the previous image.

It’s up to #25 to come all the way from the other side of the field and chase Jones down, as he’s now the only one on the field in any kind of position to get the right angle on Jones, even before Jones has gone more than a yard past the line of scrimmage. This, again, is a result of Jones being able to burst through the line untouched and turn on the jets immediately.

And here you see it once again. Jones is too fast for the people trailing him, and the safety that fell down has not had a chance to get up to speed yet.

 

Great play by Jones and the Packers’ offensive line, helped out by some awful reaction times and mistakes by the Dolphins’ defense.

Here’s hoping Jones keeps getting more and more touches and that Mike McCarthy doesn’t hold on to whatever mysterious grudge he has against the guy.

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (29)

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Point Packer's picture

November 12, 2018 at 07:07 pm

When you give Aaron Jones the ball, good things happen. Who knew? Answer: Everyone minus the "highly successful football coach".

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Packers0808's picture

November 12, 2018 at 08:02 pm

And what have been highly successful at besides deriding others accomplishments?

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Samson's picture

November 12, 2018 at 08:58 pm

Unfortunately, you may not like his comment, but.... that doesn't make his comment inaccurate. --- In fact, his comment is called "spot on".

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mamasboy's picture

November 12, 2018 at 10:49 pm

What!!! Come again.

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LeotisHarris's picture

November 13, 2018 at 09:26 am

Can you hook me up with some of those prepaid telephone calling cards? I read they are really going to be big.

Just leave a message for me here when you're not simply running the internet from home. Thanks!

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DD's picture

November 13, 2018 at 09:46 am

Point Packer: Yes. Everyone seen this in Packer Nation except MM. Fans are calling for his head and rightfully so. Change will help to inspire and energize our team to SB status again.

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Oppy's picture

November 13, 2018 at 02:02 pm

Everyone except Rodgers.

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Point Packer's picture

November 13, 2018 at 07:31 pm

You're blind defense of Mike McCarthy is as stale (disgusting?) as Mike McCarthy's offensive. The "highly successful football coach" would be selling used cars in Pittsburgh if it weren't for Aaron Rodgers.

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Oppy's picture

November 14, 2018 at 05:22 pm

I have more logical reasons to suspect Aaron Rodgers is at the core of the "Why don't the Packers run the ball more" question than the emotional "McTubby is an idiot" crowd has for suspecting it's on MM.

If you call that blind.. so be it.

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Gort's picture

November 12, 2018 at 07:08 pm

That run was a thing of beauty, but

I think the real game changer was the errant snap that flew over Brock Osweiler's head. Dolphins were driving and our "D" looked shell shocked on the first series again. How much different might the game have been if they scord a TD on that drive?

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Point Packer's picture

November 12, 2018 at 07:10 pm

It was nice to play a team that tripped over its own shadow as much as the 2018 GB Packers. When the Pack find their equals in that category, good things happen.

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Pierre's picture

November 12, 2018 at 08:00 pm

McCarthy should go just for not being able to realize that Jones is so much more talented than Williams and Monty in games 3-8. Why Jones wasn’t starting and being used more when his per carry yardage is one of the top in the NFL. Is MM just stubborn or can he really not see the talent and actual results Jones was showing?

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DD's picture

November 13, 2018 at 09:44 am

Pierre: Agree. Stupid should be gone for failure, which my wife even seen, was his inability to use Jones!

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The TKstinator's picture

November 12, 2018 at 08:31 pm

Jones seems/plays faster than 4.56.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

November 12, 2018 at 10:37 pm

Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys ran a 4.7 at the combine.

Smith could read blocks and our guy has shown he can do the same.

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Packer Fan's picture

November 12, 2018 at 08:59 pm

I don't understand why it took McCarthy nine games to realize how impactful Jones is. No more platooning with Williams. Williams should be spot duty to let Jones catch his breath. Also, Rodgers has to learn that with Jones, a well planned checkdown to Jones is just one cut away from a big play. Rodgers never had a breakaway back like Jones. Time to start using him.

As Pierre said, is MM too stubborn? Could have going to Jones right away and more often turned one of the losses into a win?

This team is going away from the Cobb/Nelson/Lacy era. It is now the Adams/Jones/MVS era. Use them to break open the offense with plays that play to their strengths. That is what New England does.

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Oppy's picture

November 13, 2018 at 02:15 pm

Williams is still the best option as a short yardage back.

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mamasboy's picture

November 12, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Very well said Packers fan. Could have possibly won 2 more games with Jones playing as much as he should have. McCarthy is stubborn for sure but, I think part of it is his trying to be loyal to players like Montgomery and Williams . which is commendable, but not a path to the Super Bowl. Look at Bill Belechick's philosophy on loyalty. Loyalty doesn't add up to FIVE Super Bowl rings.

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flackcatcher's picture

November 13, 2018 at 12:19 am

Packers flat out beat the Dolphin defense on that play. Their DC had the right package called. The Packer O line flat out beat them and Jones saw the huge lane and took it. No mistakes made by the fish D. Just a good call by McCarthy and a great effort by the entire Packer offense. Period, end of story.

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Den's picture

November 13, 2018 at 12:20 am

Jones should have had at least 20 carries!

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DD's picture

November 13, 2018 at 09:42 am

Den: Correct. MM isn't very bright, let's face it. He must be fired for failure to adjust and gameplan.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 13, 2018 at 02:01 am

It is legal to have both safeties, nay all 11 defenders, lined up within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage (first photo)?

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Lphill's picture

November 13, 2018 at 05:40 am

Yes Den he should have had 20 or more carries but if he did he would have had over 200 yards rushing and McCarthy would have to answer to the press what took so long? MM actually held Jones Back so he would not look like an ass .

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DD's picture

November 13, 2018 at 09:40 am

Lphill: I agree completely with you. MM wasted Jones for 8 games!

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RCPackerFan's picture

November 13, 2018 at 06:37 am

The first that separates Jones from the other RB's the Packers have had is his vision. He has superb vision. That's where it starts with Jones. He sees the tiniest of holes and is able explode through with his burst. That is the next part that separates him. He has that one step and go ability.
He has the patience to find the holes, and he is in tune with his OL.

The last 3 weeks Jones snap counts per game have went up significantly. His first 4 games he averaged 29.2% of the snaps. The last 3 games he has averaged 64.4% of the snaps.
In that stretch his carries have went up also. The first 4 games he averaged 8 carries per game. The last 3 he has averaged 13.6.
He has been targeted more in the passing game as well. The first 4 games he was targeted a total of 6 times. The last 3 games he has been targeted 11 times.

Basically since the bye week they have come to the realization that Jones is the best RB and they are going to use him. The self scouting obviously paid off!

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DD's picture

November 13, 2018 at 09:39 am

Jones was great! Problem is and mark it, MM will abandon the run if it's not working the first few series. MM is weak and will totally depend the Rodgers arm. Rodgers has not been in the flow, sharon, or seeing the field well. Take what is given , have checkdowns, and move the chains with long drives. Take the crowd out of it. Hawks will tire and fold. Other main key is containing Wil-skin with constant pressure and no running! Big task, but let's hope for the best.

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Oppy's picture

November 13, 2018 at 07:12 pm

MM rode the RBs last year when Rodgers wasn’t on the field, and has preached running the ball more for years.

It is my deduction that it is AR who does not want to run the ball, not MM.

Even when Aaron has lately talked about the need to “involve” or “utilize” Jones more, he seems oddly careful about not saying “rushes” or “runs”, but says “touches” or “opportunities”.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

November 13, 2018 at 03:02 pm

The great play call was made by Jones, Williams would have been caught in the backfield by 75 the guy unblocked by our RT

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Oppy's picture

November 13, 2018 at 07:14 pm

Except Williams has proven that he almost never takes negative yardage. Look up the data.. the number of negative runs is ridiculously low.

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