The Green Bay Packers, led by their starting quarterback Jordan Love in his first start at Lambeau Field, pulled off an incredible comeback to win their home opener. Down 17-0 at halftime, defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s unit pitched a shutout the rest of the way while the offense put up 18 points in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the Packers did not get much help from their run game. Aaron Jones missed his second consecutive game due to the hamstring injury he sustained in the Packers’ Week One win over the Chicago Bears. Emanuel Wilson did not play well in the snaps he was given, and his critically bad fumble on Green Bay’s opening drive killed what would have been a phenomenal play.
Patrick Taylor played extremely well in the fourth quarter, both as a running back and a receiver. His chunk gains help put the Packers in position to score on all three of their scoring drives in the period.
The one who will get the most blame/criticism, though, is AJ Dillon. To put it plainly, he has not played well at all. In three games, he has 39 carries for 107 yards and no touchdowns (2.7 yards per carry). His three receptions for 25 yards give him 132 total yards on the season.
Jones touched the ball 11 times in Week One and put up 127 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
The Green Bay Packers Have a Decision to Make with Running Back Patrick Taylor with Aaron Jones Getting Healthy
Green Bay elevated Taylor and cornerback Corey Ballentine from the practice squad prior to the game against the Saints. Ballentine took the active spot usually reserved for two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander, who missed the game with a back injury suffered in practice.
Taylor, of course, took the active spot for Jones. But here is the problem Green Bay now faces: due to NFL rules, a player can only be elevated from the practice squad three times in one season without being signed to the 53-man roster.
Which means that if Green Bay wants to use Taylor again, at all, in the final 14 games of the season, they are going to have to sign him to the 53-man roster.
Of course, there are already three running backs on the 53-man roster: Jones, Dillon, and Wilson.
There is no way that Jones is going to be the odd man out, and there is no way that the Packers allow Taylor to walk after elevating him for three-consecutive games.
So, which running back will be the odd man out?
The Case For and Against Emanuel Wilson to Remain with the Green Bay Packers
As Packers fans are quick to recall, Wilson was the NFL rushing leader during the preseason. He has shown he is capable of big gains and is, to be sure, an exciting young player.
Unfortunately, aside from the preseason, Wilson has not shown any upside in the regular season. His terrible fumble on the first drive of the game ruined what would have been a promising drive.
Prior to the season, when discussing running backs and the 53-man roster, head coach Matt LaFleur said that they had concerns about Wilson’s conditioning, receiving ability, and special teams work. He ended up making the 53-man roster regardless, but his non-usage with Jones out for the last two weeks should tell fans everything they need to know about how the coaching staff views him and what he is doing in practice.
Wilson also has a non-guaranteed $750,000 salary for this year, which is what Taylor would get if/when he is signed to the 53-man roster (prorated, of course).
It is easy to see Wilson as the odd man out in this scenario.
The Case For and Against AJ Dillon to Remain with the Green Bay Packers
The case against Dillon was already stated above: he has not produced though given every opportunity to do so. He also has surpassed the guaranteed money portion of his contract, which means the Packers would not owe him anything if they were to release him.
But they won’t. Dillon is a former second round pick who is playing out of position. He is not a starting running back. He is a fullback playing as a second-option running back who is being forced to be a starting running back.
The Packers, namely LaFleur and offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich, are not using him properly.
There is also the fact that the Green Bay offensive line is completely missing blocks and failing to clear paths for him. Dillon is not Jones, who can dash and spin and turn on the jets on a dime.
The point here is that the Packers have already invested three years into Dillon. They are not going to cut him in the final year of his rookie deal. They just aren’t; not when it has not been proven that Wilson can give them better production in the regular season.
Prediction: Taylor will be signed by Tuesday. Wilson will be released.