Last season, the Green Bay Packers struggled to a 7-9 record as quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed significant time with a broken collarbone. One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season was the emergence of running back Aaron Jones, who split time with Jamaal Williams at the position down the stretch. Both Williams and Jones played an integral role in keeping the Packers alive long enough to see the return of Rodgers, but it was ultimately Jones who was the more impressive back.
Aaron Jones Is The Future Of The Green Bay Packers At Running Back
Both Williams and Jones were impressive last season for the Packers. They complimented each other superbly, with Williams serving as a power back/downhill runner, while Jones added the outside quickness and shiftiness that Williams didn’t possess. Williams finished the season with 556 yards on 153 rushes, an average of 3.6 yards per carry. While his style certainly compliments Jones well, Williams lacks the kind of speed and vision that is necessary to be a full-time NFL starter. He prefers to lower his shoulder and run through defenders, which at times worked very well for him. His 3.6 yards per carry, however, shows that he simply is not consistent enough at this point in his career.
Jones Provides the Most Upside at the Running Back Position
Over time, it’s possible that Williams could develop the skills necessary to become a full-time NFL starter at running back, but it’s ultimately Jones who has proven to be the more well-rounded back with more upside. On a mere 81 carries last season, Jones gained an astonishing 448 yards, averaging out to 5.5 yards per carry, nearly two full yards more per carry than Williams. Jones’s vision, shiftiness and ability to accelerate through lanes shows he is mature beyond his years at the running back position.
Never were these skills more evident than in his first 100-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys, where he ran for 125 yards on 19 carries, an average of 6.6 yards per carry. He played a huge part in Green Bay’s 15 point comeback in that game and took a lot of pressure off of the Packers’ passing game. Rodgers only attempted 29 passes in the game even with the comeback, in large part thanks to the explosive running of Jones.
His best game of the season, however, came in Brett Hundley‘s first NFL start, where he ran for 131 yards on 17 carries against the New Orleans Saints, an average of 7.7 yards per carry. He was a big reason the Packers were able to stay in that game for so long, even scoring the first touchdown of the game when he scampered 46 yards for a touchdown to put the Packers up 7-0 early. Despite these impressive performances, Jones never once had a game where he was given 20 or more carries. He saw just 19 carries total in the final six games of the season, in part due to injuries and the success Green Bay had with Williams.
Next season, Jones will undoubtedly get more touches as his playing style fits in more with the kind of up-tempo offense that Green Bay will run with Rodgers back at quarterback. Williams will still absolutely have an important role to play in Green Bay’s offense, but Jones deserves the opportunity to start next season based on his versatile skill set and amount of success he had early on with Rodgers behind center.
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