I’ve said for years that Aaron Jones getting the ball is the key to Packers wins. Make no mistake – Aaron Rodgers is the MVP and the #1 reason for the Packers’ NFC North dominance the last 15 years and Davante Adams is the best wide receiver in the NFL. But Jones is the guy that makes the offense DYNAMIC. After the Monday Night Football win over the Detroit Lions, I feel like it’s necessary to reiterate how important he is to the Packers and how much I LOVE watching him play.
Versatility is KEY.
In today’s NFL, to be a great running back, you have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield (unless you’re Derrick Henry) and Jones does that very very well. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the flat, on a wheel route or anywhere else, Aaron Jones is arguably the Packers 2nd best pass-catcher, behind Adams. That skill, along with his speed in the open field makes him one of the best running backs in football. Combine THAT ability with Aaron Rodgers passing (and faith in Jones), wrapped up inside Matt LaFleur’s offense, and you know why this team can be so dangerous when they have the ball.
Run The Damn Ball
Like I’ve previously written, week 1 was a disaster that The Packers, the fans and the media need to move on from BUT, I think the team learned a lesson that for some reason they need to relearn about 3 times EVERY YEAR. That lesson is simple: Rodgers can’t beat everyone with his arm. AKA: THEY MUST RUN THE DAMN BALL and they need to get Aaron Jones the football A LOT. He’s not a “25 carry’ guy…but he is a “22 TOUCH guy. That’s my number. 22. Get Aaron Jones 22 touches and the Packers USUALLY win football games. Let’s look at some numbers:
22 Is The Magic Number
Over the last 2 years, when Aaron Jones gets 22 touches, the Packers are 12-0. They’ve won a bunch when he DOESN’T get 22 touches (because they have Aaron Rodgers) but what about the losses? In 8 of the Packers losses over the last 2 years, Aaron Jones failed to reach 22 touches in ALL 8 games. It should be worth noting that Jones missed last year’s Vikings loss (Dalvin Cook’s 4 TD game) and he was injured in the NFC Championship loss to Tampa Bay. When Jones doesn’t get ULTRA involved in the game plan and Rodgers chooses to (or is forced to) throw 40 times in a game, the Packers offense can get ugly. Three & out’s become common. Drives get stalled. Twitter lights up. Guess how many touches Jones had on Monday night vs Detroit? 23. Dude scored 4 touchdowns and had 115 total yards. Packers won.
MIX IT UP.
I get it. You can’t be predictable in the NFL because defensive coordinators watch film & scheme for your playmakers to take them out of games. I also understand that Aaron Rodgers has earned the right to call an audible when he gets to the line of scrimmage. But when you watch the Green Bay offense use all of it’s options, instead of just the hall of fame right arm of #12, it’s incredible.
It’s Time For A Cliché
So far, the Packers defense has left a lot to be desired. I’d argue that it got better midway through the 3rd quarter of the Lions game but the improvement has been marginal. But like I’ve written about previously, I’m not expecting drastic improvement until the middle of October and when they get Za’Darius Smith back. What’s the best way to take pressure off your struggling defense that’s trying to figure itself out? By RUNNING THE BALL.
If the Packers actually committed to running the ball in the 1st half of week 1 vs the Saints, I think the game is MUCH closer and perhaps they win. New Orleans’ defense was basically BEGGING Green Bay to run the ball but… Jones got 5 carries & caught 2 passes. Yes the game got out of hand but it was still within reach before Rodgers & MLF decided to abandon the run game. They may not have won but you could see the emphasis on the run game in week 2, despite Detroit having perhaps the worst secondary in the NFL. They learned.
Passing the football is fun and #12 may be the greatest ever to do it for the Green & Gold, but the success of the Packers’ season will come down to #33 getting the football. 22 times.