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Does Matt LaFleur Need a Math Tutor?

Hey, I can take a joke as well as the next guy. So when I saw a piece on the 247 Sports site, I waited to see if we were getting pranked. Apparently not.

Here’s what 247 led in with, and the quote from LaFleur’s press conference:

With 14 games remaining on the regular season schedule and what the team hopes to be a playoff berth in their future, LaFleur has to take Jones’ touches into consideration. That’s why he’s leaning in the direction of evening out the number of rushing attempts between Jones and his backup Jamaal Williams.

“Each game can dictate how much he’s going to carry the ball.” LaFleur said on Wednesday. “That’s a pretty physical position and we’d like to keep a good balance between him and Jamaal, because we think Jamaal is a pretty darn good back as well. We’d like to even out those touches a little bit.”

Oh my God, the ghost of Mike McCarthy is in the house.

Aaron Jones Lambeau Leap

Sep 15, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the third year now of observing Jones and Williams in the pros, so we’ve got ample stats to go by. Any way you slice it, Jones is a 5+ yards per carry guy, while Williams struggles to go 3+. Williams is steady, whereas Jones is a dynamic game-changer.

The math is easy to do. To make it even easier, Jones and Williams came into the 2019 season with the identical number of rushes: 274. In 2017 Williams’ longest run was 25 yards; in 2017 it was for 20 yards.

Do I even need to go further? In 2017, Jones had six carries of 20+ yards, and in 2018 he had four such carries. He romped for 46 yards twice in 2017, and in 2018 he got loose for a 67-yard run.

It seems strange that this quote comes right after Jones produced 150 yards – and Jamaal produced 41. Jones’ production keyed the important win against the Vikes – he had 23 carries for 116 yards – a shade more than five yards per carry. Jamaal had nine carries for 28 yards, a shade more than three per carry. This is exactly what has gone on two-plus years now, and exactly what you can expect going forward. And yet some profess that 5=3.

So how does one defend LaFleur’s comment? Here’s the rote justification from 247 Sports:

“Jones suffered an MCL injury in each knee during his rookie season. . .It is not a surprise that LaFleur wants to make an attempt to even out the touches between his two fully capable running backs. . .(W)ith Jones needing fresh legs for a possible late-season push, the Packers could very well carve out an extended role for Williams.”

Name me a great NFL runner, and I’ll show you a work horse who wore down defenses, and who got stronger as a game went on.

Over the last seven years, here are the league rushing leaders, their carries, yardages, and averages per carry:

2018 Ezekiel Elliott – 304, 1,434, 4.7

2017 Kareem Hunt – 272, 1,327, 4.9

2016 Elliott – 322, 1,631, 5.1

2015 Adrian Peterson – 327, 1,485, 4.6

2014 DeMarco Murray – 392, 1,845, 4.7

2013 LaSean McCoy – 314, 1,697, 5.1

2012 Peterson – 348, 2,097, 6.0

Besides Peterson, here are the other member of the 2,000 club: Chris Johnson in 2009; Barry Sanders in 2007; Jamaal Lewis in 2003; Terrell Davis in 1998; Eric Dickerson in 1984, and O.J. Simpson in 1973. Did you see these guys sharing the load with lesser teammates? Did you see their legs go stale as the season wore on?

How many of the coaches of the above runners endeavored to balance the carries of their running backs? Occasionally, there are two running backs of nearly equal talent on the same roster. Think Taylor and Hornung, Anderson and Grabowski. But this doesn’t apply to Jones and Williams.

I believe that Aaron Jones is fully capable of a 1,300 yard season – this season!

What would Bill Belichick think about obsessive worrying over the possibility of a key player getting injured? That question was answered on Sunday, when Tom Brady went the distance in a 43-0 victory.

Here’s the most hopeful take I can come up with on Coach LaFleur’s comments: could be he’s messing with the minds of the Broncos’ coaches, though actually planning to give Aaron 30 carries versus that porous Denver run defense.

The Broncos’ run stoppers ranked 21st in 2018 and they are currently 24th in this young season. Run, Aaron, Run!

Andy Reid with Matt LaFleur on sideline

Aug 29, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur talk before preseason game at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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3 Comments

  1. Kato September 22, 2019

    Andy Reid is a huge dude compared to Matt. Jesus. I didn’t realize Barry Sanders came back to the NFL in 2007? (Sorry, I am being a smartass, I know you mean 1997 when he was Co MVP with Favre)

    Reply
  2. Smalldawg September 22, 2019

    Williams served you up some crow today, how did it taste?

    Reply
  3. Andrew September 22, 2019

    This didn’t age well.

    Reply

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