3 Burning Questions: Running Backs

In the second part of this ongoing series, we take a look at three important areas that may have concerns about each specific positional group. This week’s article focuses on the group of running backs that currently take up five roster spots. 

In the stable of running backs, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are joined by rookie Dexter Williams, as well as three-year players Tra Carson and Malcolm Johnson. Fullback Danny Vitale was brought back again this season, but currently does not (and most likely will not) see any training camp competition for his roster spot. 

What will Aaron Jones role look like in 2019?

Besides pointing out the obvious that Jones will be the starting running back once training camps develop a running depth chart, what will Jones be able to accomplish in 2019? His role under new coach and offensive mind Matt LaFleur should excite Packers fans everywhere. 

If just taking a quick glance at how LaFleur used his schemes while running the offense in Tennessee, it is easy to see how involved his running backs are, especially in the passing game. 

The Titans employed a two-horse running back playbook of sorts, as powerhouse Derrick Henry was looked to for more running plays, while scatback Dion Lewis was the passing-game weapon that was split out, sent in motion and overall presented to the defense in many different ways. 

For Green Bay, Jones can be that two-dimensional tool, as his running style fits the outside zone running scheme that LaFleur uses, while his passing game acumen has greatly improved since being drafted. While J. Williams should be the plow-forward second back, Notre Dame rookie D. Williams has the tools to be able to work his way into the rotation to earn some key snaps.

Realist statistical outlook for Jones in 2019?

On the ground in 2018, Jones amassed 728 yards on 133 carries, producing a healthy average of 5.5 yards per carry in the Mike McCarthy-called offense. Through the air, Jones was the team’s sixth-leading receiver and second-leading running back in passes caught (after J. Williams), having 26 catches for 206 yards and one score. 

934 total yards across 159 times touching the ball equals out to 5.9 yards per touch, which is a pretty healthy total. For Jones, his numbers should only go up, and in an offensive scheme that will need to iron out a few kinks, the running game should be relied upon heavily in spurts. 

In 2019, Jones, behind his rebuilt and retooled offensive line, should rush for over 1,000 yards and catch enough balls to put up just over 300 yards through the air. Specifically, 1,194 rushing yards and 328 receiving yards sounds about right. 

With Jones as the lead back, how should the rest of the rotation fill out?

For both of the Williams’, their roles in this Green Bay offense will rest solely on the necessary gameplan for that opponent. While Jamaal’s style is suited for the between the tackles runs and flat passes, Dexter seems to be a bit more of a mystery, even after looking through his college tape. 

Jamaal has shown that he is more than capable of being a lead back, as he was thrown into that duty when Jones was suspended two games for a marijuana-related charge that made him miss the first two games of last season.

For the time being, provided there are no injuries, Jamaal will fill out the role as the second back, while Dexter will be the cleanup duty back who offers a change of pace style of play that can spell both guys for a snap or two during a close game. While Dexter should not be counted upon heavily on purpose this year, the key to his snap count will lie in how his training camp and preseason performances shape up. 

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Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23

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