Although he plays a much bigger factor in the Green Bay Packers’ offense this season, it still feels like Aaron Jones is being underutilized at times.
It certainly didn’t take long for Green Bay Packers’ running back Aaron Jones to introduce himself to the NFL. In only his second career game during his rookie season in 2017 against the Dallas Cowboys, Jones would rush for 125 yards on 6.6 yards per carry with a touchdown.
You didn’t need a special eye for football to realize that Jones had the potential to be a dynamic player in this league. However, during his first two seasons there was just one key element missing. And that was opportunities.
Between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Jones would play in 22 total games and in just five of them he would tally at least 15 rushing attempts. Despite leading the NFL in yards per rushing attempt last season with 5.5, it was a struggle for Jones to get consistent touches from game to game. A big reason for that was the Green Bay Packers under Mike McCarthy were far too pass-heavy as they led the NFL in passing percentage.
Meanwhile, for the most part he was a non-factor in the passing game and was taken out of the game often because he wasn’t seen by the coaching staff as a very good pass-blocker. Even though this season he is one of the best among running backs according to Pro Football Focus.
However this year under Matt LaFleur was supposed to be much different with the running back playing a much larger role in the offense. And to his credit, it certainly has. Through 11 games, Jones is already near 1,000 total yards with 627 on the ground at 4.2 yards per carry with another 354 through the air and 14 total touchdowns. In fact, when Davante Adams was injured, it was Jones who became Aaron Rodgers favorite target in the passing game.
Yet even with his larger role and the increased production, it still feels like Jones goes underutilized at times. Out of Green Bay’s 11 games, Jones has rushed the ball more than 15 times in just two of them and he has four or less targets in the passing game on five different occasions this year. Not to mention that against Los Angeles and San Francisco when the Packers fell behind early, they all but abandoned the running game and stopped giving the ball to perhaps their biggest weapon on offense.
Earlier in the season, Rodgers mentioned that the offense needs to focus on getting Jones the ball more and just earlier this week, LaFleur had similar sentiments:
“I think we definitely need to involve him more,” LaFleur said via ESPN. “I think a little bit yesterday was a product of that scheme. There’s not a lot of [opportunities] for the backs, and then when we try to get the ball to the backs out of the backfield, they did a nice job of having vision on our halfbacks.”
It’s a long season and with Jones suffering knee injuries in the first two years of his young career, of course, the Packers need to be mindful and not run him into the ground. But with that said, it has been evident that this offense is at it’s best when they run it through Aaron Jones and regardless of the opponent, he needs to be the focal point and get his touches each week.