Packers Looking for More from A.J. Dillon in 2023

This will be a critical season for Green Bay Packers running back A. J. Dillon. The former Boston College star is entering his fourth campaign with the team and is in the last year of his entry-level contract. That means Dillon will be playing for a new deal in 2023 whether it’s with the Packers or elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the 2022 season was a bit of a disappointment for Dillon. He gained 770 yards while playing in all 17 games. His average yards per rush was a career-low 4.1 and he did not gain more than 100 yards in any game.

Dillon was officially second string behind Aaron Jones. He started only three games as the duo split carries with Jones getting 213 rushing attempts to 186 for Dillon. Jones averaged 1.2 more yards per carry than Dillon did.

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans saw a difference in Dillon’s running style as compared to his first two seasons in the league.

“There's been games when he's started off the season pretty strong, but there was a point, we talked about it, where it was last year, I thought he could've been playing at a more aggressive level,” Sirmans explained to reporters earlier this week. “And then we talked about it, watched the tape, he saw what I was referring to and then he applied what we talked about to moving on.”

Sirmans added the Dillon did play better later in the season after he pointed out these issues to the running back. He added, “It's got to be right from the start. Hey, we know the things that we like that you did last year and when you played this way you are very effective, but when you play this way, you weren't. So, we need to start off this way. So, there will be more of an emphasis on how we need to start.”

When he’s on his game, Dillon is a tough, between the tackles runner. He has some of the biggest thighs of any running back in the NFL and at 6’0” and nearly 250 pounds. Dillon is tough for defenders to bring down, especially if he gets some momentum going and gets some speed before the moment of contact.

But Sirmans wants to see Dillon show more aggression when carrying the ball and to be stronger and more decisive.

Dillon did finish the season strong. He scored six of his seven rushing touchdowns in the final six games and his highest rushing total of the season came in Week 13 when he gained 93 yards on 18 carries in the Packers 28-19 win over the Bears in Chicago.

Both Sirmans and Dillon expected more from the BC alum last season. Sirmans was optimistic Dillon would respond to the situation in a positive way. “This wasn't the type of year and expectations that, not only he had for himself but from what I had for him and what others in this building had for him,” Sirmans explained. “I think that he's the type of person, at least from what he's shown me, that he's going to respond to that challenge and come out and have a much more productive year. And you saw a lot of great things in spurts, but that was just the problem, it was just in spurts. It wasn't consistent, and that's what our goal is.”

The Packers offense will certainly need Dillon to have a big year in 2023. The offense will have an inexperienced quarterback in Jordan Love, will feature a pair of rookie tight ends and currently have no wide receiver on the roster with more than one year of NFL experience.

That means Dillon and Jones will need to provide the offense with a consistent rushing attack to help keep the chains moving. The running backs may be even more involved in the passing attack as well as both backs are experienced at catching passes, and both can turn short passes into big plays.

A.J. Dillon has proven himself to be a good running back in this league in his first three seasons in the NFL. But Sirmans and the rest of the Packers coaching staff are confident that Dillon can take his game to another level. If he does, it would be a big plus for both Dillon and the Packers.




You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers


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3 points

Comments (12)

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splitpea1's picture

May 20, 2023 at 12:36 pm

Either it's double vision or you and your predecessor are on the exact same wavelength today.

2 points
croatpackfan's picture

May 20, 2023 at 01:16 pm

For my opinion look at:

"Cory's Corner: Challenge Presented To Dillon"

under commentary section.

Thank you!

1 points
TKWorldWide's picture

May 20, 2023 at 01:57 pm

Suggestion: stop running him on draw plays out of the shotgun.
Thank you.

14 points
greengold's picture

May 20, 2023 at 02:05 pm

All of this is great, Gil.

AJ Dillon being in a contract year is some special sauce right there.

I think often about how frustrating Darkness McHeroball must have been for all of our RBs going back to Jamaal Williams.

None of them received their touches. Great RBs in their primes forced to simply go through the motions because one member of their team had to win MVP, above all else. It wasn’t fair. It cost our entire team wins & opportunity.

Can’t wait for Dillon & Jones to finally get their chance to really eat.

7 points
cdoemel's picture

May 20, 2023 at 10:28 pm

This is exactly what I was screaming as I read this. The same thing I was screaming watching the Davante Adams “south of 20” vid. It’s Rodgers!! We were a year late in dumping that burden. But it’s done. Let’s just focus on 2024. GPG!!

3 points
Qoojo's picture

May 20, 2023 at 05:31 pm

I seem to remember that a lot of his successful runs came when QB was under center, and a lot of mediocre runs were from shotgun. Seems like an exciting exercise for some enterprising sports writer to look back at all of his runs, then evaluate if packers misused him too much due to AR's shotgun preference.

8 points
NickPerry's picture

May 20, 2023 at 06:38 pm

Bingo... Cookie for Q! Dillon needs to run with the QB under center.

5 points
NickPerry's picture

May 20, 2023 at 07:11 pm

I think were all excited about the possibilities of Dillon and Jones in this offense. As we've all mentioned numerous times, getting Love under center will make a huge difference IMO to Dillons effectiveness. But it's not just more snaps from under center, there's a few other things I'm very curious to see if they happen.

LET the man get in a rhythm and then take advantage of it. A few carries a quarter just don't cut it. I understand we have Aaron Jones too, but lets see Dillon get more than the 10.9 carries a game he average last year. Give him 7 carries more a game and I'll bet he's over 1000 yards by end of week 14 with at least 10 TD's. AND, Jones will be even MORE effective because he'll be that much more fresh and explosive.

This is a young team, a very young offense with almost as young of a defense. Take some pressure off Love, run the friggen ball, and SHORTEN the game for your defense. You get Dillon and Jones going EARLY, and all of a sudden that play-action game opens WAY up. And I for one can't wait to watch when that happens.

4 points
Bure9620's picture

May 20, 2023 at 08:09 pm

Dillon is a better player than what he showed last year. A.J. Dillon is not a guy that can just get a few carries here and there. He needs the ball more and leans on a defense. He gets better as the game goes on. Feed him.

4 points
PhantomII's picture

May 20, 2023 at 08:13 pm

I'm excited about both RB's....And I'm hoping ML uses another occasionally since we should be running it more than ever. This will help ML feel comfortable to use 3-RB's in the post season. The extra competition will sharpen all of the RB platoon. Dillon being in a contract year means he will not shy from contact to build up his per carry average. If he is not resigned here...he will land somewhere. I also see a lot more backfield movement and end around and screen plays to RB and WR/TR's. Back to basics. GPG

2 points
Leatherhead's picture

May 20, 2023 at 09:46 pm

Dillon just needs the ball more. When he gets 12 or more carries, we’re unbeaten. And he catches over 75% of his opportunities, even some difficult ones for 8 yards per reception. He doesn’t miss practices or games with injuries.

We should make sure he gets his number called 20 times a game. That’s a lot in a 17 game season, but it is the last year of his contract . We should also put the best line on the field we can and let Dillon and Jones move the ball down the field. That makes it easier on Love, the young WRs, and the defense.

4 points
barutanseijin's picture

May 22, 2023 at 04:25 pm

Is that cause or effect? That is, are they running Dillon to win or are they running Dillon because they’re winning and want to eat clock?

0 points