There are Plenty of Weapons in the Packers Tool Box to Combat the Loss of Aaron Jones:
Word came down earlier this week that Aaron Jones will be suspended for the first two weeks of the season without pay for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy stemming from an arrest on a marijuana charge in October of last year to which he pleaded no contest. Throughout the disciplinary process, Jones has been remorseful and looks to have learned from the incident. The Packers hope that he can learn from his mistake and make this situation an anomaly and not a reoccurring issue moving forward.
In his absence, the Packers three-headed monster at running back will shrink into the running back tandem of Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. The Packers will undoubtedly miss the game-changing ability of Aaron Jones in their first two games of the season against divisional rivals Chicago and Minnesota respectively but will be served well by Williams’s superior pass blocking ability as both opponents will look to get after Aaron Rodgers. Williams ability to gain yards after contact will hopefully help keep the chains moving allowing the offense to develop a rhythm and find receivers downfield against Chicago’s defense as the game wears on.
The Minnesota game will come with its own set of challenges. First and foremost, the task will be to keep Aaron Rodgers upright at all times and protect him from any unnecessary hits. Williams and Montgomery will need to bring their “A” game in all three phases of their play (rushing, receiving, and pass protection). Look for Marcedes Lewis and Aaron Ripkowski to provide additional help in pass protection in the red zone as well as in other situations.
I expect Aaron Rodgers to get the ball out quickly and think about utilizing his no-huddle offense early to quicken the pace of the game and not allow Minnesota’s edge rushers to get set. Look for Rodgers to use the WR/TE screen game with Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham early and often and pick his spots to feed the ball to Randall Cobb in the slot for some quick slant plays.
I believe that although the Packers will miss Aaron Jones in his absence, Jamaal Williams is probably better suited to go up against Minnesota’s defense because of his style of running and his superior pass blocking ability. Jones will be eased into game action and be ready to see a steady and consistent amount of playing time as the Packers three-headed rushing attack will be ready to be deployed in full force by week 5. Consider this suspension to be more of a wake-up call for the young second year running back more than anything else.