In the lost Packers season of 2017, with Brett Hundley at Quarterback, then-rookie RB Aaron Jones took his one and only carry of the game on December 3rd and scampered 20 yards for a touchdown. That happened in overtime to give the Packers a 26-20 win against the Buccaneers. For Jones, it was the highlight of his young career, a game-winning touchdown in front of the Green Bay home crowd.
Three seasons later, Jones got another crack against the Buccaneers, this time on a 4-0 Packers team headed to Tampa. Green Bay was beaten and battered in the contest, losing 38-10. In that game, Jones saw 10 carries and managed just 15 yards. He added 3 receptions for another 26.
After being completely shut down in that 2020 Week 6 matchup of elite NFC Teams, Jones would get another chance 3 months later in the NFC Title Game at Lambeau Field. At the end of the Packers loss, Jones’ stat line read 6 carries for 27 yards rushing, and 4 catches for 7 yards. He fumbled twice and lost one of them, which directly led to a deflating Buccaneers touchdown to start the 3rd quarter.
When it comes to high’s and low’s in football for a player, be it a moment or an entire game, they’re identifiable but uncommon. The majority of games are just another game, in the grand scheme of things. Yet, with Aaron Jones against the Bucs in his so-far 6 year career, he’s had some of the most euphoric and demoralizing stretches a player can experience. On Sunday afternoon of September 25, 2022, the Packers are hoping to recapture that Aaron Jones magic from 2017.
Heading into tomorrow’s game, the Packers have a list of injuries on offense that will make things more challenging than they already are. WR Sammy Watkins has been ruled out while WR’s Randall Cobb and Christian Watson are questionable. Both players didn’t practice on Friday. Additionally, excellent blocking TE Marcedes Lewis is questionable for Sunday, which would make it harder for the Packers to run against the league’s 9th best run defense.
Similar to Week 2 against Chicago, the Packers’ offensive formula will need to be a heavy dose of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. Last week, Jones ran 15 times for 132 yards while tacking on 3 catches for 38 yards. He scored 2 touchdowns. On the young season, Aaron Jones has 20 carries for 181 yards, which is an average of 9.1 yards per carry – a ludicrously impressive number. While that’s unsustainable for an entire season, why let the pixie dust run out tomorrow in Tampa?
It goes without saying that Sunday’s game doesn’t fall solely on Aaron Jones. The Packers trio of interior lineman in Runyan Jr., Myers and Newman will need to open up lanes on the ground. The tackles, tight ends and WR’s will be expected to do their part on run plays as well. To top it all off, the Bucs have allowed a total of 13 points through 2 games – and 7 of those were in garbage time. In truth, the Bucs have allowed 3 points each in their first two games of the season. Green Bay, not exactly a well-oiled machine at the moment and riddled with offensive injuries, have a tall task ahead of them.
In a way, it makes Aaron Jones having a very strong game that much more important for a Packers win. As Aaron Rodgers said earlier this week, Green Bay will have to play great defense, safeguard the ball, avoid negative mistakes and plays and lean on the run game.
“I think it’s really important for our defense to come out and have a real solid performance and, on the road, set the tone for us,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “Offensively, we’re going to have to take care of the football, and be methodical at times if we have to be, high completion percentage, and then be able to run the ball.”
Running the ball would go a long ways towards a Packers road win in Tampa, where they are 2-8 in their last 10 at Raymond James Stadium. Thankfully for the good guys, Tampa is dealing with a laundry list of injuries and absences of their own, including WR’s Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as well as DT Akiem Hicks out for tomorrow’s game. In what many expect to be a low-scoring affair, an Aaron Jones highlight game could push the Packers over the top to victory against their former NFC Central foe.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.