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Jamaal Williams getting his pads lower and 'keeping my feet running' into 2018

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Jamaal Williams getting his pads lower and 'keeping my feet running' into 2018

-- Jamaal Williams is just one of the many players on the Green Bay Packers' roster this season whose expectations are cranked reasonably high.

The former BYU running back is entering a rather unfamiliar situation in his second season -- a "committee" approach to distributing carries.

In other words, whoever has the hot hand on a weekly basis handles the workload.

As of last week, Williams will have somewhat of a two-game head start over his counterpart, Aaron Jones, the second of the three running backs drafted to Green Bay last year.

Jones was hit with a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, giving Williams and his presumed backup, Ty Montgomery, a chance to lead the committee by example.

"I think it went okay," Williams said of his rookie season at BYU's Media Day last month. "My expectations are always going to be higher than anybody else's, but overall, I think I did okay for how I handled it and the situations I was put in and the opportunities I got."

Williams didn't enter the regular-season as the starter, but rather Montgomery's backup, and didn't see his first glimpse of extended action until a Thursday night game against the Chicago Bears, four games into his young career.

Subsequently, both Montgomery and Williams suffered injuries in that same game that led to Jones' ascendence and a first look into a multi-talented backfield that coach Mike McCarthy and returning offensive coordinator Joe Philbin should handle with care.

Even with Williams cementing his bruising running style and showing that he can become just as much of a receiving threat out of the backfield as he is a runner, one area he's displayed growth that could possibly earn him a starting job is in pass protection.

When it comes to protecting the cornerstone of your franchise in Aaron Rodgers, the Packers would be wise to take the safest possible route, especially with Rodgers coming off his second season hindered by a broken collarbone.

"I know this year, since I've been through a year already and I know what to already expect, it's just recalculating what I did good, what I did bad and adjusting a little bit."

Williams led the team in red zone rushing attempts in 2017 (21) for four touchdowns, almost doubling Jones' red zone production: 11 carries for three touchdowns. Williams' 818 scrimmage yards were second on the team to receiver Davante Adams (885).

There may not need to be much adjusting for Williams outside of learning a new offense, and the Packers certainly shouldn't be as run-heavy with Rodgers at the helm as opposed how they operated with Brett Hundley.

However, there's always an opportunity available to improve his already well-rounded game, and that's what he's emphasizing heading into his second season.

"A bit more patience, a little bit more keeping my pads lower, keeping my feet running; you can never tell yourself that you can't keep your feet running. I think I can do that a little more, certainly on a lot of plays honestly, because I've watched so much film already on what I did well, what I didn't do well. ... Now, it's just putting everything together and hopefully, this year will be a better year for me."

If Williams can manage the majority of the carries for the Packers' first two games of the season, he'll have a good shot of maintaining that hot hand for weeks to come -- even when Jones is activated to the roster.

The personality Williams brought from his collegiate years as a Cougar to the NFL also helps make him a polarizing figure in the Packers' locker room.

And his touchdown dances.

"You don't get flagged -- none of my celebrations are flaggable gestures, but honestly, it just gives us more freedom to be out there having fun. At the same time, the freedom comes with the responsibility of making sure that you're making plays, making sure you're helping the team get to the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

"I got more dances this year, I'll have some more. I'm expecting to get into the end zone a lot, too."


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 (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

Low pad level: high importance!

Turophile's picture

I was going to write a reply, but I'm too afraid McCarthy will bust through my door and shout at me that I'm sitting up too high and to get my shoulders down (and I live 5,000 miles away from him). Guess I'll have to pass on the comments and pop some bubble-wrap with a soothing cup of herbal tea, instead..............

RCPackerFan's picture

From the beginning of last year to the end Williams was one of the most improved players. He really was a different player at the end of the year. If he can continue that upward trend he could be in for a hell of year.

While I still think Jones is the better player between the 2 because of his burst and vision, but Williams vision and patience improved a ton. You could see where he was thinking less and reacting more.

I am definitely excited to see both Williams and Jones this year. With Jones having to serve a 2 game suspension it should be the Williams and Montgomery show the first 2 games. That could be a lethal combination which will only get better when Jones joins them.

Nick Perry's picture

"but Williams vision and patience improved a ton. You could see where he was thinking less and reacting more."

Exactly RC...Those first few games he kept running right up the rear-ends of his O-Linemen. But the more he played the better he performed, mostly because he started to play faster, less thinking more reacting like you said.

That game against Pittsburgh was something. I kept thinking about what this kid and Jones WITH Monty could do with Rodgers on the field.

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, he showed no patience or vision. I did see late in the year he still missed some holes and ones that I do think Jones would have hit, but he was a TON better.

I think this year we could see a completely different player with Wiliams. A much improved player.

I honestly can't wait to see how they plan to use all 3 RB's. I think this is one of their best backfields they have had in a while.

Handsback's picture

Green Bay has three running backs that can be considered NFL starters. (Of course there will be many who disagree with that statement, but I believe moving Monty, Jones, or even Williams to another team and they would be considered starters except for teams that have super stars as RB.). Contrast that to previous years where the 2nd string back would not be considered starter quality. That's why Jones being out two games shouldn't impact their game all that much and with the 2nd year improvement...expect to see a very strong running game.

Pack88's picture

Really agree about the improvemnt from Sept to Jan with Williams; big issue will be the Oline! Playing with essentially 3 guards I expected the run blocking to be good- what will happen this year at RT will tell much of the story -should GB get sufficient push while still having adequate pass pro w/o extensive chipping or TE support this could be very dynamic team.

Lare's picture

By the same token, it will help all the running backs immensely if the offensive line can be set and stay relatively healthy all year. Last year it was a game of musical chairs on the OL with injuries and different lineups every week. Tough for everyone to get their timing down that way.

Colin_C's picture

Jamaal has quickly become one of my favorite players on the team. You just can't help but like his personality. He's also a pretty darn good football player. Everyone's expecting a jump from Jones with his added weight, and rightly so, but I think Williams might be the more improved player this offseason. If he can improve his speed and elusiveness a bit, watch out!

Nick Perry's picture

He's the perfect compliment to Jones. He's not necessarily a "Power Back" though he does have power, but he'll pick up those tough yards yet have enough juke and quickness to break away.

Oppy's picture

I agree.
There's no flash in Jamaal Williams, but what you get is tough running every single touch. He just doesn't quit and he doesn't take negative yardage.
When you have a back that runs as hard as Williams does, it makes for a long day for defenders, and that sets things up nicely for an explosive back like Jones.

I know Williams will never be appreciated like a break away runner in the mold of Jones, but I love the grinding workman like play style of guys like Jamaal. All they do is what needs to be done.

The TKstinator's picture

Edgar Bennett, anyone?

Nick Perry's picture

What I loved about Williams was the report out college said he fell forward for that extra yard or two and it was TRUE! The kid always seemed to fall forward.

Oppy's picture

I know it's just a phrase, but I calling what Jamaal does 'falling' forward seems to insult the effort. He definitely fights and pushes forward! :)

fthisJack's picture

not sure why you used the phrase "polarizing figure" to describe him. explain!

porupack's picture

I also had the same question wondering why that was put in without explanation.

The TKstinator's picture

Maybe “popularizing” instead??

Spock's picture

"The personality Williams brought from his collegiate years as a Cougar to the NFL also helps make him a polarizing figure in the Packers' locker room."
Polarizing?????? That's not a good thing. Seems like "That word doesn't mean what you think it does" (The Princess Bride

Oppy's picture

Anybody want a peanut?

Oppy's picture

Down vote?


The TKstinator's picture

No more rhymes, and I mean it!

Oppy's picture

TK, your comment is the greatest thing.. except for a nice MLT sandwhich- Mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.

PatrickGB's picture

“Polarizing “ = Chilling?

4thand10's picture

I always thought of “polarizing “ as something or someone as having oppositional behavior to mainstream. Or when you hear “polarizing figure” it would be someone with a controversial view. Am I wrong on this?

porupack's picture

Never played RB, but seems to me that the 'Committee Approach" has a real downside in that a player doesn't develop a real feel for the flow of the game, and defense and Oline.
Maybe I misunderstand 'committee approach' is kind of an equal distribution of reps for 3 RBs.

Is it a fair comparision to Basketball to send a guard off the bench onto the court as the go-to guy on a designed play? Wouldn't you want your designed play to be the guy that's loose, and has been baiting and testing the defense and feels the game, and in sync with his blockers? I'm skeptical. Would rather see a feature back such as Williams in 65% of the plays and bring in a second back (Monty or Jones in on 20%, especially 3rd downs) to perplex the defense as to run or pass, and sit Williams for Jones/Monty for 35%.
Seems NFL trend is to rotate RBs in more than years ago, and seems to me kind of difficult for RB to come in cold. Any thoughts on this?

CJ Bauckham's picture

I tend to agree. Imo, a rb by committee approach takes a hc or oc who really has his finger on the pulse of the game to be effective. Similar to how you described it above, in this case the coach is the one who has been testing and baiting the d, knows his players strengths and weaknesses, and deploys them as necessary. I've never thought Mike was very good at it. Hopefully Philbin can figure it out.

Since '61's picture

I'm not sure that "RB by committee" means going with the hot RB for a game or games. I think the Packers are thinking of it as gaining the most favorable matchups against a particular opponent and/or against a specific defensive alignment or package. Also, with the no huddle offense the Packers can maintain the mismatch for an entire drive without allowing the defense to adjust.

When the defense does adjust the Packers will rotate in another RB that provides a mismatch against the adjusted defense. That to me is how MM, Philbin and Rodgers are thinking about RB by committee. I could be wrong but that is what I think the Packers are expecting to achieve with "RB by committee". It could be that this approach results in a "hot RB" for a particular game but how would they know if that will continue for the next game and the next.

I like the rotational approach as a way of keeping the defense off balance and maintaining favorable mismatches throughout the game. Thanks, Since '61

4thand1's picture

16 days to training camp.

I bleed green more's picture

Are we there yet?

4thand1's picture

1st practice, July 26th 11:30 A.m.

dblbogey's picture

Is that Central Standard time?

Rak47's picture

Holy cow! Are we truly that close to training camp? I'm pretty excited to hear that.

BYUPacker's picture

Not sure why it says polarizing unless he's too loose for some people. He was loose in the locker room and during warm-ups at BYU. He would be out on the field tossing footballs to kids in the stands. He was a fan favorite. The players also liked him because he kept things loose in the locker room. Guys played better because of it.

As far as the running back by committee, I think teams are leaning that direction to lower the burden and lengthen the time a running back has in the NFL. Most backs seem to only play 5 to 7 years because the beating they take week in and week out is so intense.

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