The Green Bay Packers may have some questions at a variety of positions going into the 2023 NFL season, but the running back position is not one of them. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon may very well be the best running back duo in the NFL, especially due to their different styles of running and what they each bring to the team. Jones is a lightning fast, agile back who uses his speed and quick hips to slice up defenses. Dillon, on the other hand, is a bruising back who will run up the middle and take a pile of defenders for a ride as he fights for yard after yard.
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Fortunately for the Packers, both backs do their jobs extremely well. So well, in fact, that PFF listed both of them in their list of the top 32 running backs heading into the 2023 NFL season.
Green Bay Packers Running Back Aaron Jones Ranked 7th by PFF
Since being drafted by the Packers in 2017, Jones has just one season in which he played less than 16 games that he accumulated fewer than 1,000 rushing yards. He has five consecutive seasons of 900+ all-purpose yards and four straight seasons of 1,000+ all-purpose yards. Now the third all-time rusher in Packers history, Jones has established himself as one of the premier running backs in the NFL. PFF said of Jones:
“2022 was another very good season for Jones, the fifth straight year in which he earned an 80.0-plus rushing grade. He has averaged more than 3.0 yards after contact in every season of his career, and in 2022 he recorded career highs in forced missed tackles per attempt (0.20) and explosive plays (36).”
Last season, Jones had a career-high 1,121 yards on a career-high 213 carries. With Aaron Rodgers gone, it is likely that Jones’ role in the offense will increase in 2023. He only had five games in which he received at least 15 carries last year, and Green Bay was 4-1 in those games. Jones is a difference maker that has taken a back seat to Rodgers and the passing game for years. 2023 will be his time to shine.
Green Bay Packers Running Back AJ Dillon Ranked 29th by PFF
Dillon was a member of the same draft class as the Packers new starting quarterback, Jordan Love. Due to the controversy surround Green Bay trading up to draft Love, many forget the negative reactions to their drafting of Dillon, too. At the time of his drafting, Green Bay had Jones and fan-favorite Jamaal Williams in the backfield. Regardless, Dillon has endeared himself to Packers fans and has become a vital part of the team’s offense.
PFF said of Dillon:
“Dillon has been a highly graded back over the past two seasons. He earned a 90.1 rushing grade in 2021 and an 88.4 rushing grade in 2022. He’s more of a situational back to complement Aaron Jones, but it’s still worth noting Dillon consistently does his job. His stuff rate (rushes for no gain or a loss of yards) is the lowest in the league, at just 11.6%.”
Even though the team’s running backs coach called Dillon out for his inconsistent play last season (he did have a whopping seven dropped passes), there is no denying that his left hook to Jones’ right jab is a nasty weapon for the offense. He has two-straight seasons for at least 900 all-purpose yards and went over 1,000 in 2021. Like Jones, his role may increase as well in 2023, something that will pay dividends in the win-loss column. When he had at least 12 carries in a game last season, Green Bay was 5-0.
All of the offseason focus and chatter is in regards to Love and the young wide receiver room, but it will be the Packers’ running backs who should be getting more hype going into the season.
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