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Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones Fuel Packers' Gifted Backfield

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Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones Fuel Packers' Gifted Backfield

There have been a few glimpses of just what could be done with two productive running backs across the NFL. Just look no further than down south in Louisiana, where in New Orleans, Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara are spear-heading arguably the top rushing tandem in football.

The Green Bay Packers may not be trying to replicate that, but there isn't any question that they have the tools in order to do so.

Between Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, who general manager Ted Thompson drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds respectively, the only problem is determining which one is going to see the most reps out of the backfield.

"That's challenging," said coach Mike McCarthy on Wednesday. "It's more challenging in the preparation part of it because you don't want to stress the quarterback about because that's something he doesn't need to worry about."

Especially if that quarterback is Brett Hundley, whose six starts have been a rollercoaster that has often dipped into the waters of mediocrity one week and sailed through the winds of efficiency the next. Continuously cycling different running backs into the huddle could put Hundley at the risk of being thrown off in the midst of a game.

And, everyone knows that the Packers can't afford to have that happen at this point. They need to win their final four games and -- hopefully -- do so in three of them with Aaron Rodgers. That's why all McCarthy would offer on whether or not this duo of impressive, young running backs would do Rodgers any favors was a, "Let's focus on this week."

The reality is, it doesn't need to be a dilemma. Having both Williams and Jones in the stable can be a weapon as opposed to being viewed as a "good problem to have." 

"You get in the run styles, our guys are so young and new to their experience, there's not really anything they say, 'hey, let's try to stay away from this.' Or maybe with an Eddie Lacy or Ryan Grant, you knew more about them through their experiences that you tailored things more to what they do. 

Jamaal Williams (30) provides the thunder in the "thunder-and-lightning" rushing tandem between him and fellow rookie running back Aaron Jones. (Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports)

"I'll say both [Jamaal] Williams and [Aaron] Jones, I would classify them high on instinct as far as their running ability, so it gives you the flexibility to be aggressive as far as the different concepts you can throw at a defense."

Williams put together his first career 100-yard game on Sunday in the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Jones took his only carry of his first game back from an MCL sprain for a 20-yard touchdown. Prior to his injury, Jones was the undisputed lead runner for the Packers. Jones had rushed for over 120 yards in two of his first four career starts this season, giving the Packers all the more reason to provide him with more carries. 

Since Williams took over after Jones' injury, he had begun to show why he was held in such high regard in training camp and through the preseason. He showed a tendency to fall forward after every run and consistently pick up yardage. A workhorse who had exceeded 20 carries in three of his last four games.

Since the week 4 game against the Chicago Bears in which Jones got his first shot at stardom after injuries were sustained to both Williams and running back Ty Montgomery, the tandem created has quietly been one of the best. Both Williams and Jones have combined for 179 touches and 877 yards, as well as eight touchdowns in the nine games since. 

According to NFL Network's Ben Fennell, since Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle in week 6, the Packers are averaging 120.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks ninth in the NFL in that span. Their 4.69 yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns are both fifth.

They've also made it a point to get the ball rolling via the ground game on first down, where their 5.35 yards per carry on those specific downs ranks second in the league.

The Packers have evidently leaned more on the running game with Hundley under center, and rightfully so. Opening up the field with a fluid rushing attack could do wonders for a young, inconsistent signal-caller such as Hundley.

The popular -- and potentially even correct -- decision would be for the Packers to keep riding on the shoulders of Jones and utilize Williams in situations where short, tough yardage is needed to keep a drive alive, or even in goal-line scenarios. The likelihood of the Packers starting the game with one running back and sticking with him for the rest of the game is also relatively high.

"I've coordinated offenses where you've had three different ways to call 11 personnel based on which back is in the game," said McCarthy. Jones just saw two offensive snaps against the Buccaneers. "The best is when you just roll them in there, the personnel grouping, and you don't have to worry about it."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Glad for there 2 guys and the Packers. Kinda feel bad for Ty, given by all accounts he worked his ass off and it hasn;t worked out for him.

RCPackerFan's picture

News just in.

Kevin King placed on IR, and Demetri Goodson brought up off of PUP.

Finwiz's picture

The hits just keep on coming for injured TT draft picks.

tylerbigred's picture

Seems to be never ending , does it not?

rdent's picture

It must have finally occured to the training staff that it was time to shut King down and try to get that shoulder right.

Mojo's picture

The shoulder injury should have been addressed prior to the season since it's been a problem for YEARS.

In discussing the issue and Kings limitations, Capers said "I think it was pretty obvious ... when he wasn't using two hands,".

Yet, they put him out there anyway. How crappy are our other CBs that they preferred using a man with the use of one arm over them.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Did TT not know King and Beigel where damaged goods?

RCPackerFan's picture

That's why Biegel dropped to the 4th round in the draft.

Hopefully if King has to have surgery now, it will allow him to participate in the off season.

RCPackerFan's picture

I have been on the Wiliams/Jones hype train for a while. Though the way they have played its not about hype. Its about production. And they both are producing.

I really like these 2 RB's moving forward. When Rodgers comes back whether this year or next year, I hope they use these guys a lot in the offense.

GBPDAN1's picture

Love our RB situation.

Not happy about our pass rush from a consistency perspective and not happy about our DB production. Now King is on IR ! Our problematic pass D just went from very bad to worse.

This is dampering my enthusiasm of Rodgers possible return as our D will just get shreaded against good QBs.

rdent's picture

It just has not been a good year for the Packers. I am just going to ride out watching this season and hope for next year.

CAG123's picture

I hope this puts an end to the TyMont experience as it should these two complement each other too well to muddy things with trying to get Ty carries. Considering the questions was could his body hold up to the punishment of being a full time RB well we have our answer but him not being the lead back isn’t even a bad thing this could turn him into the Swiss Army knife offensive piece he should have been the whole time a guy that can get them 700 and 300 yards receiving and rushing with 8-10 total touchdowns.

Since '61's picture

Williams and Jones should be an effective 1-2 punch for the Packers ground game. Monty is great to have for depth and to be a receiver out of the backfield and creating matchup problems for the defense.

With that we still have Rip for the fullback slot and for lead blocking. Davante Mays could still have a shot to add depth to the RB corps.

In any case the RB group is looking better than it has for quite a while. Thanks, Since '61

Razer's picture

...In any case the RB group is looking better than it has for quite a while...

I agree - the silver lining to this messed up season.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I found MM's quotes incomprehensible. That isn't all that uncommon. Why in the world would it stress BH which back got more reps?

Bedrock's picture

Never played the position, did you?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nope, you got me there. But I am still in the dark. I get pass pro differences, and differences in receiving skills and preferences. Even hand-offs. Well I guess AR was stressed out of his mind with Lacy and then Starks, then Monty, then Christine Michael, then Don Jackson, then Pressley (at least in practice).

Bedrock's picture

The biggest difference is pass pro. Protection calls can be varied from play to play. If Rip is in, changing the call to have him block the blitzing lb is not as big of a deal as knowing they overload Spriggs and the only help is Monty. That’s a lot to process. Who’s in, who can get the job done? Now, he should be able to, but MM says it’s more stress on him. I get it. More is more. MM’s comment says a lot about where his 3rd year rookie is at...more than his “Hundley is our qb” defenses.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thanks for the info, Bedrock. Since I stopped playing TE around 9th grade (I blossomed as a doubles tennis player), and going to a small parochial school, I played some sandlot, pop warner, but it was barely organized. I played some, and watched football for 50 years, but I've learned more about football by watching tape of draft prospects, reading some 101 football books, and watching some Xs and Os video over the last 7 or 8 years than I learned in the previous 40+ years.

But I can analogize to tennis. I'd had a regular partner, X, that I'd "carried" for a year plus, but my partner had improved and we had become a formidable team. So coach decided to have X play with Y and have me carry Z. All the switches were different, I flipped sides on returns, and since my new partner was also a power player and far less consistent than my old partner, I had to change my game and become a more consistent player.

I kind of understood that pass pro was the likeliest stresser: QBs can rely on Rip or perhaps Williams to pick up that 250 lb charging LB. What threw me is that MM said reps, as in practice, not snaps as in real games. Perry isn't going to annihilate BH in practice because Jones failed to block him.

I can analogize.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Come to think on it, I was probably "trans-armed" as a tennis player. I played right-handed, but I was a lefty. Being the youngest, I watched my older siblings and imitated their motions. I didn't get my first private lesson until I had already made the varsity tennis team in high school. And there was no video - I fanned the pages of a book so the images would sort of look like a motion picture to see the proper swings.

I got hand-me-down golf clubs that naturally were made for righties. I got down to playing in the low eighties. I remember that we only had right-handed baseball mitts, and since we played hardball, I needed a mitt, so I threw right-handed for a while. To his credit, my father saw me throwing while wearing the right-handed mitt pretty early and I had a left-handed mitt the next day. Bowling was a real conundrum for me. There was little question I could throw the bowling ball with more power and spin left-handed, but the proper steps.approach worked better right-handed, and as a teenager, I had drilled a lot to increase the strength of my right arm, particularly the forearm, so the difference in strength was mitigated. I still play golf, tennis and bowl right-handed, though I can play tennis moderately left-handed.

Well, my oh my. I amused myself today, if no one else. I had no idea I was a member of the trans community. I really am not actually: I always was a lefty, just pretty ambidextrous, and of course, I face no societal pressure or ostracism, though the nuns encouraged me to write right-handed as a child. Since I could do that pretty well, that wasn't a big deal.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm with TGR on this one....It seems to me Hundley's only "Stress" should be actually learning how to play QB because if he has many more games like last week, he may end up playing himself out of the NFL.

HankScorpio's picture

Add my name to Nick and TGR. It's baffling to suggest that using a 1-2 punch at RB is going to give Hundley any issues.

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