Green Bay Packers

Wait, Do the Packers Suddenly Have A Running Threat?

Photo credit: Mike De Sisti (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)

Few expected the Green Bay Packers’ season to end the way it did, and it’s easy to harp on the negatives. The Packers had ample opportunities to take out the San Francisco 49ers in last week’s divisional-round matchup at Lambeau.

They didn’t and they lost.

Was it a brutal loss? Absolutely. Yet dwelling solely on the negatives never got anyone anywhere in life.

It’s done. Let’s move on. But first, it would be foolish not to highlight some of the highs that suggest a blueprint for the future.

Several positives stick out when reflecting on the 2021 Green Bay Packers. But one obvious asset that has evaded the organization in years past should especially be celebrated.

The Green Bay Packers have a running game for the first time in what seems like an eternity, and a very good one at that.

Green Bay rushed for a total of 1,900 yards and 13 touchdowns on 446 attempts in 2021. They averaged 4.3 yards per carry and converted 109 first downs while grinding it out against the eighth most difficult schedule in the National Football League.

Those numbers don’t stack up towards the top of the NFL leaderboard. The team ranked:

  • 17th in rushing attempts
  • 18th in total yardage
  • Tied for 15th in yards per carry
  • And tied for 21st in touchdowns

These rankings don’t do the team justice given Green Bay’s elite passing game and heavy use of running backs as receivers.

Yet as a wise old (and probably dead) philosopher once said, “It is intrinsic, not extrinsic competition that determines true success.”

The Packers rushing attack in 2021 was one of the more impressive feats in recent franchise history. By the numbers, it’s one of the more prolific years in the past decade. In 2013, 2014, and 2020, the team compiled more total rushing yards. Green Bay’s 109 first downs on run plays complements the 114 they put up last season, a range the team hasn’t hit since 2013 and the days of Eddie Lacy.

However, Green Bay’s current tandem of A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones is much different from Lacy. Despite being the franchise’s best running back since Ahman Green, Lacy was inconsistent, oscillating between mountains and valleys. Conversely, Dillon and Jones are hitting the peak of their time together in Green Bay.

The Pack drafted Jones in 2017. Dillon followed suit in 2020. In their two years together, they’ve combined for nearly 2,000 yards on the ground and 20 touchdowns. And while he was a third-stringer last season behind Jamaal Williams, Dillon broke free in 2021, rushing for 803 yards and five touchdowns in 197 attempts.

The Packers aren’t the Indianapolis Colts. Green Bay’s offense is dynamic enough that they don’t need a Jonathan Taylor-type running back to tally 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns each game. However, with the increased pressure and coverage on the Rodgers-Adams Express, the Packers have needed optimum success from the backfield to forge their offensive blueprint for 2021.

Jones and Dillon did just that.

The pair is crucial to the Green Bay offense’s success because they have polar opposite styles. Jones is an elusive pass-catcher with the ability to shift around defenders. Even though he played at Boston College, Dillon is the epitome of an up-the-gut Big Ten back. The versatility has been beautiful.

Speaking of that, the duo of Jones and Dillon could become more important than ever as the offseason looms.

One of two scenarios will prevail by the time the Packers kick off for Week 1 of the 2022 season.

  1. Aaron Rodgers will return following an MVP-caliber season. Just as he did this year, Rodgers will rely on Jones and Dillon to diversify the play calling to create more opportunities for him to find Davante, MVS, and Allen Lazard downfield.
  2. Aaron Rodgers will not be wearing a Packers jersey. Jordan Love, a 2022 draft pick, or a trade acquisition will lead the Packers under center. This scenario will require the Packers to be a run-heavy team that relies on the yin and yang running styles of Jones and Dillon.

While scenario one is ideal, there is a real possibility that the latter is the one that prevails. In that case, the two-headed monster in the backfield will be the face of Green Bay’s offense.

Ideal? Probably not. But Jones and Dillon have proven over the past two years that they have the capability to do serious damage in tandem. Neither has the elusiveness of division foe Dalvin Cook. But the two combined? I’d take that any day.

Green Bay Packers
An Open Apology to Christian Watson
By Spencer Nelson - Dec 6, 2022
Green Bay Packers
Zach Tom Is Becoming Crucial To the Packers Future
By Chris Callaway - Dec 6, 2022
Green Bay Packers

Jaire Alexander Is Having A Very Weird Season

Photo credit: Mike De Sisti (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears fought for the honor of being the winningest team in NFL history this Sunday, and thanks to a late interception […]

Continue Reading