Are Running Backs the Packers Best Offensive Weapons?

Packers Running Back Duo

Remember the early 2010’s when the Green Bay Packers couldn’t find a consistent Running Back and never ranked above 20th in Rushing Offense? We watched players like James Starks, Brandon Jackson, Alex Green and DuJuan Harris take their turn trying to become the feature back, but neither ever did. Many called it the Packer’s only weakness during those years. Starks and Harris were late-season and playoff heroes of course, but neither ever found that consistency to become a real weapon. Fast-forward to now and I bet Aaron Rodgers wishes he had today’s backfield to go along with the Receivers he had back then. With the questions at Wide Receiver heading in to the 2022-2023 season, are running backs the Packers best offensive weapons?

It’s hard to imagine a team with now four-time MVP QB Aaron Rodgers at the helm, possibly featuring the guys in the Offensive backfield. But if you were to ask someone who the best weapons are on Offense outside of Rodgers, running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon would likely occupy spots 1 and 2.

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones runs for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Aaron Jones

On December 4th, 2017, Aaron Jones had only one carry for 20 yards and a touchdown vs the Buccaneers to defeat them 26-20 in Overtime. Only one carry or not, his dive into the endzone was then etched in my memory as his first big Packers moment. A few months later I framed a photo of this dive signed by Jones himself and put it on my basement wall. I had a feeling Jones was going to be special, and he didn’t disappoint me. With over 1100 all-purpose yards in 2021 and 10 Total TD’s, Jones had another good year. Seeing as he only played 15 games and split snaps with AJ Dillon, I’d say that’s a pretty good return. While Jones is entering his 6th year, you’d expect him to be slowing down. Given the load balance in the Packers backfield, I think Jones will still see a pretty productive 2022 and perhaps become the Packers offense’s premiere weapon.

AJ Dillon

After a decent rookie season considering his workload, AJ Dillon stormed onto the scene his sophomore year. Much like his backfield partner Aaron Jones, Dillon had over 1100 all-purpose yards and 7 total touchdowns. When he’s not endearing himself to the Packers faithful by endorsing everything Wisconsin, Dillon is shaping himself into becoming a feature back in his own right. Matt LaFleur was on record during the NFL Scouting combine this year saying, “We’re fortunate, we’ve got two number 1 backs” he went on to mention that Jones and Dillon can both run the football at a very high level, as well as contribute to the passing game. They can receive out of the backfield, and when lined up out wide. Jones and Dillon have become the Thunder and Lightning Running Back duo the Packers have wanted for a long time.

It’s funny to say as a Packer fan that the Running Backs could open up the passing game this year. But the dual threat of Jones and Dillon out of the backfield should draw a lot of attention and take some of the focus off the young receivers the Packers will be looking to make an impact this year. 2022-2023’s Packers could look a bit different from years past. But having two Running Backs as your best offensive weapons could be a recipe for continued success.

Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.

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