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NFL Draft

Aaron Jones Is Packers’ Unsung MVP

  • The Draft Network
  • October 9, 2020
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The Green Bay Packers’ current success is largely attributed to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is obviously more comfortable in second-year head coach Matt LaFleur’s system. But Rodgers is only part of what makes this offense so efficient. 

The 4-0 Packers are averaging the second-most yards per game (445.5) and scoring more points (152) than any other team in the NFL. Green Bay has done this with a number of injuries on offense. Star wide receiver Davante Adams missed the last two weeks, fellow receiver Allen Lazard was out Week 4 nursing a core injury and will likely miss more time, and the Packers have also been without tight end Josiah Deguara a quarter of the way through the season. 

The player who has helped bring the bulk of this success, arguably more in the last year and a quarter than Rodgers himself, is running back Aaron Jones. Jones’ production as a running back with his pass-catching skills have allowed the Packers to spread the field and open up the offensive attack, which in turn has Rodgers at the top of or near the top of most statistical categories—and it’s the way Green Bay is executing this that makes everyone and everything work together so well.

What helps make Jones so productive is his share of usage; he stays fresh. The Packers aren’t expecting Jones to carry the weight of the offense. He doesn’t need to be what you see with Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. Instead, Jones shares snaps with Jamaal Williams, and the two create a 1-2 punch that has positioned Green Bay as a top-five rushing team, averaging 150.8 yards per game.

Jones has had at least 15 carries each game this season and was two Week 3 touches shy of having 20-plus touches in four consecutive games to start the season. Jones is targeted more frequently in the passing game and has had receiving touchdowns in two of the four games played. He’s accumulated 509 yards from scrimmage and six total touchdowns while playing 56% of the team’s snaps. For comparison, Williams has 227 yards from scrimmage playing on 42% of the offense’s snaps.

Jones, who is in a contract year, had a breakout game against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, where he finished the 42-21 win with 168 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to pair with 68 receiving yards and one receiving score. If there’s a contest Jones can point to in this young season that says, “Sign me, sign me!,” it was against Detroit. What this dominant performance also did was show his successful 2019 season is sustainable.

“I do think I came out and started the season the right way,” Jones said following the Week 2 victory, via the Wisconsin State Journal. “I still don’t feel like I have reached my full potential, so (I have to) continue to work to get there. I left some plays out there today, so just go look back at the film and clean those up and get my best game out there.”

Jones wants a deal akin to the New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara or the Minnesota Vikings’ Dalvin Cook; both signed five-year contracts worth at least $63 million with (at minimum) $28.2 million guaranteed. Both Jones and Kamara have been in the way-too-early MVP conversations for playing vital roles in each of their respective teams.

The Packers are seeing continued success with Rodgers having more fun, but the player doing the most to keep that momentum going has been Jones. Despite him playing on just over half of the team’s offensive snaps, he’s making the most of the range Green Bay has given him. Jones is also playing more freely, and the Packers are working him more into the passing game. Some will bring up a consistency argument since he has yet to tally more than 100 rushing yards since Week 2, but Jones more than passes the eye test. What he can do out of the backfield, as a rusher and receiver, gives Green Bay more options including play-action and misdirection, something Rodgers has been excelling at—more than usual when it comes to misdirection.

Jones doesn’t need the credit, although he deserves it. He’s too busy securing his future and more immediate success for the Packers, who have some of their toughest opponents of the season on tap in the coming weeks.

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