The Packers finished the regular season 13-3 and are opening the playoffs on their couches. They have clinched the top seed and the first round bye in the NFC. As the rest of the contenders battle to advance, the Packers are game planning for next weekend. One of the questions among Packers’ fans, and fans around the league, surrounds second-round pick, AJ Dillon.
After 16 weeks of very little playing time, AJ Dillon broke out against the Titans in Week 16. That snowy night at Lambeau Field saw the Packers’ rookie rush 21 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns. The next game, Week 17 against the Bears, Dillon had one carry for three yards. The Packers, of course, won the game, so the lack of Dillon’s usage was little more than a footnote. However, going forward, it is reasonable to ask how the Packers will use the bruising rookie in the playoffs. Here, we take a look at three possible scenarios. Each scenario will list the Packers three running backs: Dillon, Aaron Jones, and Jamaal Williams. In each option, they will be listed in the order of which back will get the most carries in descending order.
Option One- Jones, Williams, Dillon
This option is the one most familiar to fans and anyone who has watched a Packers game in which all backs were healthy. This has been the recipe for success, so it stands to reason that the Packers will not deviate from it. Aaron Jones, of course, is a Pro Bowl running back. He also has just completed his second-straight 1,000 yard season. Williams, meanwhile, has been a very reliable second option. His style, different than Jones’, is a good change-up that keeps defenses guessing. He is also an excellent blocker, which is important given the absence of David Bakhtiari on the offensive line. Dillon is a rookie and these are the playoffs. He may get opportunities on the goal-line, or on third and short yardage, but the Packers may decided to trust their veterans more in the playoffs.
Option Two- Jones, Dillon, Williams
The reasons why Jones could receive the majority of the touches in the run game has already been discussed. This option sees the roles of Dillon and Williams flipping. Why would the Packers consider this? AJ Dillon, while far less experienced, is a much more physical running back than Williams. It can be argued that the change in the running game that he brings may be more dynamic than that of Williams. With the road to the Super Bowl going through frigid Lambeau Field, giving Dillon more carries in cold weather may be a more efficient use of rush attempts.
Option Three- Dillon, Jones, Williams
This is probably the most unlikely scenario given the level of Jones’ play. However, this was the formula for success in the Packers’ 41-14 win over the Titans. Williams was not available for this game and Jones missed some time in the game with an injury. He returned, but the Packers kept feeding Dillon the ball. Using this option, without Williams, the two backs rushed for a combined 218 yards. Jones had 98 yards on just 10 carries. If this option becomes a reality, Williams will likely see some snaps in pass protection and could be the target of some screen passes.
The Packers have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position this season. Whichever back receives the majority of carries is going to help put the Packers in a position to win. However, the most likely scenario is option one in which Jones and Williams get the most attempts while Dillon gets one or two touches.
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