Aaron Jones – 85.9 PFF Grade
Even in a down year for the Packers, Aaron Jones was still able to produce. Despite rushing for a career-low in rushing TDs, Jones rushed for a career-high in rushing yards. Jones rushed for his third 1,000-yard season. This put Jones third on the Packers’ all-time rushing leaders.
Jones was the 6th ranked RB per PFF this past season, with an 85.9 grade. He graded out with a 90.7 run grade, tied for 2nd best in the league. Jones was lackluster in all of his other grades. He had a 64.6 receiving grade (24th), a 50.6 pass-blocking grade (37th), and a 60.2 run-blocking grade (9th), per PFF.
Surprisingly, Jones wasn’t graded highly as a receiver. It was assumed he would take a much more significant role in the receiving role in the absence of Davante Adams. Jones had the 2nd most receiving TDs of his career (5), but he also had a career-high in drops with 6. He also had the lowest yards/ reception since his rookie year.
Despite the lack of production on the receiving end, Jones still finished with 1,516 yards from scrimmage, leading the Packers by over 500 yards. His yards from scrimmage were also 9th in the league (beating out Davante Adams).
Jones carried the weight of the Packers’ offense for many games this season, as we could see from his PFF grade. Many believe he should have been given more touches (myself included), while the receivers gained Rodgers’ trust and improved as the season progressed. In fact, Jones had over 100 more passing snaps than rushing snaps, which could have been why the Packers’ offense struggled so much this season.
AJ Dillon – 81.4 PFF Grade
After leading the Packers in rush attempts and rushing yards last season, Dillon took a step back to allow Jones to become the lead back. He had one less carry but had 33 fewer rushing yards. Dillon finished with 770 rushing yards and a career-high 7 rushing TDs. Unfortunately, Dillon could not break 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the second-straight season, finishing just shy with 976 yards.
Despite a dip in his yards, Dillon was still the 10th-ranked RB per PFF with an 81.4 grade. He was ranked 5th in rushing grade per PFF, so his slight drop-off in yards didn’t seem to affect his actual running ability. The big knock on Dillon this season was his receiving ability. After not having a single drop in his first two seasons, Dillon had 6 this season. Many of those drops came at crucial times in games. Dillon was given a 50.6 receiving grade, ranking 48th out of 60 qualifying PFF RBs.
Fortunately, Dillon graded well everywhere else. PFF gave Dillon a 70.3 pass block grade and a 69.3 run block grade; those were 11th and 3rd among all RBs, respectively.
As was the case with Aaron Jones, Dillon was on the field for almost 100 more passing snaps than rushing snaps. Dillon’s stats should have improved after a 1,100 scrimmage-yard season, but surprisingly the Packers’ did not lean on the run game as much as they should have.
The stats and grades speak for themselves. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon were the highest-graded RB duo in the league per PFF, and it wasn’t close. Many fans knew this going into the season and assumed the Packers would be a run-first team. Unfortunately, that was not the case this year.
The Packers threw the ball 6 more times than they ran (33 pass attempts – 27 rush attempts). If this was reversed, both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon might have rushed for over 1,000 yards. Three more attempts for each of them would have resulted in 209 more yards for Dillon and 270 more yards for Jones (roughly).
Aaron Jones has a massive cap hit for next season, $20 million. There is a world where Jones is traded or released next season for the Packers to save $16 million in cap space. Jones wants to be back, the front office wants him to be back, and we all want him to be back. The Packers are better when Jones is on the field. Hopefully, restructuring contracts will keep this elite duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon together for another year.
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