Linebackers Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon aren’t getting the national acclaim they deserve. When network chiefs talk about the best contestants in the NFL, they explain the virtues of men like Jonathan Taylor, Derek Henry, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara. Cbssports.com recently ranked the top ten players in the NFL. Packer was the highest ranked ninth. Dillon is no longer the list.
Perhaps one reason for this is that Jones and Dillon live in the shadow of Aaron Rodgers, who dominates any non-local media coverage. I have a feeling it’s about to change. One of them, if not both, will break out this year as major stars.
Understandably, most of the focus in training camp was on Jordan’s love, young receivers, dribbling along the offensive line, and solid defense. OK, but once the games really get going, the key to the attack’s success will be Jones and Dillon. When the 2022 season draws to a close, I bet the team’s leading pass recipient won’t be Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson or Romeo Dobbs. will be back.
Rodgers alluded to the same amount when he recently said that fifty receptions for both backs is reasonable. Matt told LaFleur this observation, and even went further. “I don’t want to put restrictions on that,” he said. “It could be more than that. I think it just speaks to the confidence he (Rodgers) has in these guys, not just in the running game but also as strikers. It’s unique to have two guys as diverse as these two guys.”
Until last season, when the great Davante Adams was still on the team, Jones was the player with the second most receptions. He grabbed 52 shots, a dozen more than Lazard’s in third. Also keep in mind that Green Bay runs the ball more to set up the pass. More chances for Jones/Dillon to increase stats.
I’m thinking about whether the coaches would try to divide the running back work equally, or if one would appear more dominant than the other, and if so, which one? In 2021, it was clear that Jones was still ahead, and Dillon was the change in pace. Although there weren’t two games during the regular season, he averaged yards per carry, Jones targeted more in the passing game, had more pick-up yards and more touchdowns, and more catches leading to a first touchdown.
However, Dillon was strong. He played in all 17 regular season games, had more rushing attempts (187 to 171), barely more rushing yards (803 to 799), more rushing touchdowns (5 to 4), and more rushing down first (50 to 799). 37).
One of the phrases we hear over and over again from the coaching staff is ‘We want to put our best eleven players on the field’. If that’s true, find Jones and Dillon to spend a lot of time lining up together. The Packers also showed plays where Jones was widely split as receiver. Both players showed that they can be effective, not only by catching the ball in the flat, but in the middle of the field as well.
I think what we’ll see this season is Dillon gradually taking the lead. “There are not very many defenders of this size who have those kinds of hands, which are a real half-back,” Laveleur added. “You can see some defenders doing that, but not the half-backs.” Meanwhile, Jones may be used as a receiver, sort of Christian McCaffrey player. It may also help keep Jones available, as he won’t have to incur the same amount of penalty for passing the ball past the center of defence.
The age at which a running dip is said to be is 30. This is personal of course. Jones will turn 28 in December. His age isn’t a factor yet, but his contract might as well. As it is currently built, Jones’s cap in 2023 is approximately $20 million. It’s hard to see the front office fit that number into an already crowded 2023 salary cap. If the team wants Jones back next year, they’ll likely have to push some of his money forward.
Then again, if Kylin Hill or Tyler Goodson showed the kind of blast and wobble that Jones was famous for, and also showed they could catch the ball, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Green Bay trade or fire Jones, a fan favorite.
These are decisions to be made after the season. For now, just enjoy this tandem. If both remained healthy, it would be a double headache for opposing defenses.