The Lass Word: Deep Safeties May Make Aaron Jones A Superstar

Patient offense means lots of touches for number 33.

The hot defense in the NFL these days is the two deep safety look.  It is designed to take away the long ball and minimize the impact of the wide receivers by allowing the safeties to double cover them over the top.   It is the scheme used so effectively by the Saints against the Packers in week one, and, to the surprise of no one, the scheme that the Lions came out against Green Bay with in week two.   

 

Since the chances of hitting anything deep against this alignment are slim, an offense needs to patiently execute a lengthy series of short plays to keep the chains moving and eventually get into the end zone.  It invites you to run the ball, because the safeties are too far back to provide run support.  You can try to go deep by sending somebody down the seam to occupy the safety, thereby freeing your wideout to go one on one with a corner.  You need the quarterback to look the safety off to the middle for as long as possible, and then throw a perfect ball.  Still, it’s difficult to execute because the safety is so far back that he gets a lot of recovery time with the ball in the air.  The Packers pulled off one such play against the Lions on the fifty yard bomb to Davante Adams, which turned the game around.  But they missed on three long ball tries to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, two of which were overthrown, and the third a bit under thrown.    

 

Fortunately, the Packers have the ideal running back to play the patient game.  If Green Bay continues to see this look for the entire season, Aaron Jones is going to have a superstar year, assuming he stays healthy.  Jones is not fast, but he is explosive.  He sees the hole well and can adjust on a dime to get through it.  For a small back (he’s 5’9”), he runs very hard after contact and finishes strong.   

 

Against the two deep safety scheme, you need a back that can consistently get you four to eight yards per touch, either by carrying the ball or taking a short pass.  Jones was the epitome of that in the Detroit game.  The third series of the game was a perfect example.  The Packers went ten plays for 56 yards.  Among those plays, Jones runs right for seven yards.  Jones runs wide left for six.  Short pass to Jones for nine.  Jones right for five.  Short pass to jones for thirteen to the one yard line.  Pass to Jones for the touchdown. 

 

He wound up with 17 carries for 67 yards, and 6 catches for 48.  That should be a typical performance against this kind of defense.  Some teams, of course, will play it more effectively than others, as the Saints did and Sunday night’s opponent, the 49ers, are likely to.  But there should be other games where Jones will exceed those numbers.  Using Jones’ stats against Detroit as an average, the running back would finish the regular season with 1,081 yards rushing, and 98 pass receptions for 981 yards.  He won’t score four touchdowns every game, but even if he scores, say, once per contest, he would finish with 19 combined touchdowns.   

 

With a season like that, Jones, who was already voted to the Pro Bowl last year, would approach Christian McCaffery territory.  

 

As the weather gets colder, the Packers may choose to give more touches to AJ Dillon, who is more of a straightforward power guy.  There is also the question of Jones’ durability.  He was plagued by injuries during his early years, and the team has made it a point to have a capable back behind him to share the load and preserve his health. 

 

But one can’t shake the feeling that this may be a special season for the 5th year veteran, who has dedicated the campaign to his late father, who passed away after attending every one of his games.  With his humble, unselfish attitude, and his playful personality, Jones is easy to pull for.   

 

Every time he crosses the goal line, he runs to the bench and dons his trademark sunglasses.  And why not?  For Aaron Jones this year, the future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades.   

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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13 points

Comments (19)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 22, 2021 at 03:56 pm

Two Deep Safeties should mean good things for Cobb and Tunyan as well.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 24, 2021 at 01:14 am

two great Wides beat two-deep Safeties, every time.

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RedRight49's picture

September 22, 2021 at 04:51 pm

Aaron Jones ran as hard and with as much grit as I recall ever seeing him run with the football in his hands .

Aaron Rodgers wisely got the ball out to Jones quickly and Jones responded with one whale of a game.

I always enjoyed the pre - game or in - game clips of Aaron Jones' mother and father in the stands and their dedication to their son's career and respect
his dedication of his 2021 Season to his late father.

Aaron to Aaron apparently has taken on the same dynamics and importance to the Pack as Aaron to Davante Adams.

That is a great ground and air arsenal for the Packers, along with of course Dillon, Tonyan, MVS, Lazard, Cobb and others.

GPG!

5 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

September 22, 2021 at 05:23 pm

Two deep safeties will be the norm for the balance of the year. Rodgers and Lafleur better get use to it.

They will need to spell Jones and Adams by getting the other players involved. Good teams will negate the effectiveness.

Time for Lafleur and Rodgers to be at their very best

3 points
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Moose51's picture

September 22, 2021 at 05:34 pm

It becomes more difficult to execute against Teams that have strong D lines and fast, aggressive LBs/defenses (TB, Niners, Cardinals all Playoff caliber Teams). Conversely, if you are a Team (Packers) that has mediocre D line and mediocre LBs, with a non-aggressive D, quality Teams ‘eat your lunch’.

9 points
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Packers1985's picture

September 22, 2021 at 06:10 pm

You are right not only Rodgers that struggled against such defenses even our running backs struggles too and again it all comes to the question on how physical our oline can be against stout defense?

5 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

September 22, 2021 at 05:37 pm

I regard Jones as a Star - not a Superstar. IMO a Superstar will transcend all - defenses, conditions and situations. Jones has been nullified on occasion - by stout front 7s - who pressure A.R. Now some of that is on Rodgers - who tends to regress with those types of teams. For this year, I expect similar performances from both (Aarons), as last year.

7 points
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Packers1985's picture

September 22, 2021 at 06:12 pm

Agreed it's time for Aaron jones to shine against the defenses as 49er's and bucs only then we can call him a Superstar.

2 points
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Swisch's picture

September 22, 2021 at 07:22 pm

I'll take Jones as a star and not a superstar.
We've got a lot of other guys who can do big things on offense, it seems to me.
Hand it off the Dillon more.
Run Amari and MVS on Jet sweeps. Even run a reverse once in a while.
Keep up the screens to Tonyan, although if the 49ers are expecting this, try Lewis and Daffney.
Let's get our other wide receivers more involved with bunch formations in which they go every which way. Also, run them across the field to keep the linebackers occupied.
***
In addition, let's see more pre-snap motions and more post-snap misdirections. Let's make our short-game offense a beautiful mystery of creative craftsmanship from Aaron Rodgers, with an occasional deep pass sprinkled in.
Let's outsmart and exasperate and exhaust opposing defenses into submission.
Rather than dully forcing long passes to Davante, let's befuddle offenses with an array of diversity.
***
I'm a huge fan of Aaron Jones, but let's not overuse him the way the Panther apparently did to McCaffrey. Less of Jones is more.
Let's not underuse our other players, either. Getting an occasional touch really gets the adrenaline going, and guys snapping out of the huddle for crisply executed plays.
It's time for LaFleur and Rodgers to step up their strategy and artistry in time for the 49ers. Let's make it a point of pride to make the offense the best choreographed, most synchronized, and least predictable offense in the NFL by the end of the season.
It's time for the offense to start breaking out like a well-directed burst of varied firecrackers.

2 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

September 22, 2021 at 07:28 pm

You should cc A. Rodgers

3 points
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Bure9620's picture

September 22, 2021 at 11:06 pm

True, Aaron Jones tends to play terrible in big games, terrible fumble in the NFCCG, he has been awful every trip to SF, hopefully this time is different. This game is a litmus test. The Packers will likely lose but how do they look? If they play well and lose a competitive football game down to the wire, I'm good with that. If they are blown out of building again....This teams issues would be on full display......I also don't count the win out there last year because SF had Covid issues and about 400 guys on IR.

I put very little into the Lions win because that Lions team I have a feeling is quite terrible, even for the Lions. I don't think they even win 3 or 4 games. The Packers are all in....

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 24, 2021 at 12:11 am

Fumbles.

2 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 22, 2021 at 10:27 pm

I remember when Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin developed the two deep safety (cover two) defensive scheme to protect against the home run ball years ago when they were with Tampa Bay.

The best way to attack that defense is just the way the Packers did it against the Lions Monday night. it require patience and discipline. The Packers have just the combination in Rodgers who is accurate and Aaron Jones who is a sure handed receiver out of the backfield and hard running who seldom puts the ball on the ground.

If teams are going to employ the two deep safety defense on the Packers consistently, the player in the slot will become a key receiver in our offense. Currently we have three receivers who I think will be effective in that role including Cobb, Rodgers, and Adams. Currently Adams has been outside only, but perhaps he will be used in the slot more with his quick release and elusive route running, along with his sure hands.

4 points
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Bure9620's picture

September 23, 2021 at 05:16 am

Run the ball....The run fixes everything. You HAVE to be able to run the ball against this look.

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 24, 2021 at 01:07 am

It goes back to Bud Carson,who Tony played under as a safety for the Steel Curtain. Key Note: Dominant Front FOUR and two HOF LBs in Lambert and Andy Russell to execute and excel. See: Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Lee Roy Caffey, Herb Adderley , Ron Kostelnik, Bob Jeter, Dave Robinson etc...Players, not Plays. Just do It, Gutedkunst, it's all on You.

2 points
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NickPerry's picture

September 23, 2021 at 05:57 am

"With his humble, unselfish attitude, and his playful personality, Jones is easy to pull for."

I love this kid and I for one find his attitude, personality, and humbleness SO refreshing in a business LOADED with egomaniacs! Jones didn't play well in the NFCCG but he also got SMASHED in the game where he needed to come out. I remember the sideline shots of Jones watching the game, the look on his face which showed his obvious discomfort from his injury, but also the look of a man who thought he let his team down.

Many thought signing Jones was a huge mistake, especially with the Packers salary cap the way it was. But losing Jones AND Williams would have been a death sentence for THIS offense, the MLF offense. When THIS offense is at its best, Jones is having a game like he did Monday which also helps Adams have a game like he did on Monday, which in turn helps Rodgers have a game like he did on Monday.

The offensive line is still making its way this season and won't be at it's best until about week 9 or 10 when DB is back and has a few games under his belt. Right now Josh Meyers is the 4th rated Center according to PFF. He has the 4th highest pass blocking grade. For those of you who feel Gute was NUTS for letting Lindsey walk, Corey is ranked 26th....Hmmmm...Maybe not so crazy.

My point is there's lots of "New" to this offense this year not to mention a QB who did SQUAT, at least compared to last season in getting ready for year 3 under MLF. Last season they were in communication about how to get the best out of this offense and Rodgers was working on his legs and body, getting them stronger. This year is sounds like he was working more on the "Spiritual" side of self and doing body cleanses which left him looking like, well he was 7 or 8 years older. The 3 misses to MVS SHOWED he wasn't working on his body or craft, not like he did the previous year where he was NAILING those bombs week one. Aaron Jones NEES to be effective in the coming weeks. The Packers and Rodgers can't revert to "Hero Ball", they HAVE to keep Jones and Dillon involved.

3 points
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Philarod's picture

September 23, 2021 at 06:15 am

It's hard not to love AJ - very good player, and a great person!

I found your point about AR to be kind of silly and petty. How can you judge his off-season approach based on three throws to MVS? The one had no prayer as MVS had no separation on the CB, who pinned him to the sideline. The other two -while we've seen Rodgers hit those - are not high-percentage throws.

But I'll ask you: How was his off-season conditioning on his all-world throws to DA on third-and-long, and on his laser TD to Tonyan?

2 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 24, 2021 at 12:32 am

One over-throw the other A Pro WR with 4.3 speed has to run under and snag. Watch Ruggs. He's a # 3-4 guy with a three route tree. Deal with it, or get better. Randall Cobb will eventually move to the # 2 on third down and Labrador Lazard claim his rightful spot as the key possession fetcher and move the chains. Football 101, Control the ball and forget the Fantasy Football Fans....

2 points
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nostradanus's picture

September 23, 2021 at 08:37 am

Patience is the key:

*invest in the run game
*quick rhythm passes
*jet sweeps & screens

This forces the safety to move up, then leaves him vulnerable to the deep pass. It also keeps the packers defense off the field!

Patience 🤔

ND

1 points
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