The domino effect the Aaron Rodgers situation with the Green Bay Packers will or won’t have is massive once it concludes. If he comes back, great. All goes according to plan after all and teams like the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders go with what they have, and their title chances fizzle again. If Rodgers stays firm on his decision not to return, the Packers will be left trying to scrape things together with a roster that is still very good but missing its key piece.
Regardless of how this pans out, Aaron Jones is one player in particular who won’t see his numbers take a hit either way.
Jones’s decision to re-sign with Green Bay may turn out to be way more critical than what was first realized, given the nature of what is still unfolding with Rodgers and the Packers front office. At the time, the move was seen as Green Bay bringing back one of its core pieces on offense to give it another run with the same nucleus. Now, it may become a scenario where Jones becomes the focal point of the offense if No. 12 keeps a firm hold on this grudge.
Matt LaFleur’s offense caters to players like Jones and his strengths. Green Bay doesn’t view Jones as just your prototypical running back. They line him up out wide in the backfield and utilize him in a bevy of ways. Jones has seen those ideas and those offensive concepts bring out the best in his game as he has become one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL.
It sure as hell helps to have Rodgers run the show and playing the role of MVP maestro on offense for the Packers. But without him, Jones wouldn’t see a hit to his value or production. The worry is that without Rodgers, defenses would react by stacking the box against whoever would play quarterback for the Packers. While this may well be true, LaFleur’s offense has more than enough layers to keep Jones’ production at an excellent mark even if Rodgers weren’t returning.
Green Bay wouldn’t be lining up Jones in the backfield with the quarterback under center and turning and handing to him 30-plus times a game, hoping Jones would replace Rodgers’ production. All the motion in Green Bay’s offense, the rollouts, the misdirection, those concepts and schemes don’t go away even if Rodgers does. The offense is built for a guy like Jones to produce regardless of who is under center. LaFleur doesn’t mail it in if Rodgers is gone, making things as stale and conservative as can be. The playbook may be simplified at first for someone like Jordan Love, but the trickle-down effect to that wouldn’t harm what Jones does and brings to the table.
And while he’s a legitimate option in the passing game for Green Bay (60-plus targets each of the last two years, 96 total receptions last two seasons), it’s not as though the majority of those are coming on passes where Rodgers is threading the needle 20 yards or more downfield. While Rodgers routinely does that, it’s not the part of the passing game Aaron Jones is usually involved in.
Not only would Jones’ numbers be fine without Rodgers, but they could see a bump up with an expanded workload if No. 12 isn’t around. With Rodgers, you have everything you could ask for with a quarterback on the field. Without him, other productions may dip, but guys like Jones would be relied upon more within the offense.
Many have pondered the thought before of how good some of the receivers and weapons Rodgers has had in Green Bay really were and how much of it was due to Rodgers. It may seem unfair, but guys like Greg Jennings were phenomenal and wildly productive with the Packers and Rodgers but struggled once they left. The same idea could be applied for this current Packers core of weapons of offense.
Davante Adams is one of if not the best wide receiver in football. While we don’t have the answer, it’s hard to believe he would not be a top-tier wideout if he played in many other places. He’s just that great with some of the individual stuff, primarily his route running skills. There’s no doubt having Rodgers elevates his game, and the chemistry between the two on the field is unmatched, but Adams is top tier.
Still, his numbers would take a hit without Rodgers next season. Defenses would key in on him even more and really force the issue with Jordan Love or whoever is under center for the Packers. Adams had 115 receptions on 149 targets and a league-leading 18 touchdowns last season. It’s hard to figure he would replicate those if No. 12 isn’t QB1 in Green Bay despite how good Adams is. He’d get his looks, but the outlook of the Packers’ offense and how they run the operation changes if Rodgers isn’t there, at least initially. It’s something that is out of Adams’ control.
The same can be said for guys like Robert Tonyan and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The scheme is great, so many of the catches they make come on plays where they break wide open. But the aforementioned “domino effect” that Rodgers missing from the equation would have on these two is more so because the Packers would lean on its run game more without No. 12 than they do when he’s in the huddle.
How this plays out from here is anyone’s guess. There are targeted dates or “dates of importance,” but at this point, nobody really knows how this is going to shake out. Despite that, Aaron Jones shouldn’t fret. He’ll be just fine either way next year.