Regardless of who is under center Week 1 for the Green Bay Packers, it figures to be a massive year for the backfield. At least that’s the expectation going into the offseason.
Yes, Jamaal Williams is gone, and his presence on and off the field will be sorely missed. But this always seemed to be the likely route ever since Green Bay used a second-round pick on AJ Dillon in the 2019 NFL Draft. Fast forward to now, Williams is in Detroit and Dillon and Aaron Jones are ready to bring a combination of thunder and lightning to the backfield. Dillon says they can become the best duo in the NFL. Is he right?
There’s plenty of layers to this, and while it will draw an eye roll or two, it does start with who the hell will be playing quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers takes the pressure off the entire offense and runs it effortlessly, with some help from Matt LaFleur. It’s been a match made in heaven, and the scheme LaFleur has unveiled in his first two years along with Rodgers’ God-given abilities helped lead to his MVP season last year.
While it would be a blow to not have Rodgers under center, Jordan Love, Blake Bortles, or whoever else could be QB1 doesn’t spell doom and gloom for the backfield. In fact, if Rodgers does keep grudging along, Jones and Dillon may find their roles elevated.
Sure, more eyeballs will be cast upon the running backs if Rodgers isn’t present in Green Bay, but LaFleur has two dynamic backs to scheme for in case it goes that route, along with an offensive line that should be near the top of the league again. As odd as it sounds, the duo likely wouldn’t have a catastrophic dropoff if Rodgers isn’t under center Week 1.
Now for Dillon’s specific comments:
First off, love that energy. Bring that vibe from the get-go, starting in voluntary workouts.
Dillon’s sample size has been small as he’s only been in the league for a year and had to carve out opportunities while working behind Jones and Williams. Now he’s the clear-cut No. 2 and offers a vastly different style of running compared to Jones.
He’s the bowling ball to Jones’ slashing style of running, and the two could not complement each other better, on the surface.
The Cleveland Browns’ duo has been a wrecking ball of hell for opposing defenses, and both are back next season. Chubb is somehow not talked about enough when the discussions begin about top running backs in the NFL, and he deserves to be a part of the conversation. In three years, Chubb’s lowest yardage total for a year was his rookie season. He still ran for 996 yards and eight touchdowns. He and Hunt are top-shelf when it comes to running back duos.
Jacobs is coming off a Pro Bowl season, and Drake led the Arizona Cardinals last year with career highs in yards (955) and touchdowns (10). There’s little reason to believe that duo won’t work with the Raiders, especially since they will spell one another and not have to co-exist on the field together.
There are others that can be peppered in, and even trios like Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack, and Nyheim Hines of the Indianapolis Colts and David Johnson, Mark Ingram, and Phillip Lindsay of the Houston Texans. But Dillon and Jones are right there.
So the statement by Dillon that he and Jones can become the best is far from ludicrous. As a harsh dose of reality, the duo may have to become the best if Rodgers gives the verbal middle finger to the Packers.
All the ingredients are in place for Dillon and Jones to elevate each other and their own game. Matt LaFleur has shown in two seasons that his offense is dynamic and he has a knack for putting his weapons in the best spots for them to succeed. Secondly, the offensive line in Green Bay was near the top in both pass protection and the running game last year. Losing Corey Linsley hurts, there’s no sugar-coating it. The Packers addressed the gap by drafting Josh Myers in the second round, a center from Ohio State. It’s also an offensive line that still has studs in David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, and Billy Turner, so that box is checked as well.
Finally, Jones and Dillon both have the makeup to be the most lethal duo in the NFL. Jones has already established himself as one of the most dynamic backs in the league. And there’s a reason the Packers used a second-round selection on Dillon. The flashes he showed his rookie season leave little doubt that he can be a massive force for Green Bay for years to come.
Green Bay has a lot of pieces in place and that includes the depth at running back. Whether it’s No. 12 or No. 10 at quarterback for the Packers, it figures to be a huge season for “Quadzilla” and Aaron Jones.