It’s been several days now since Packer rookie A.J. Dillon helped turn what was supposed to be a toss-up game into a rout. I’ve tried to cool my ardor for this huge running back, to get things back into perspective, to stop fantasizing over what Dillon’s future might hold, but I can’t help it: I think Dillon is going to be not just Green Bay’s, but the NFL’s, next big thing.
Who cares what I think, you say? Fair enough, so I’ll give you some reasons for my belief, and you can decide for yourself.
Starting with Sunday’s game, and going backward, this was the most important game of the year for Green Bay. The best players tend to come up the biggest in such situations. On Sunday, A.J. came up huge – as did the other skills players we’d expect to: Rodgers, Jones, Adams. On almost every carry, the big man got an extra two or three yards via sheer power. He was mistake-free all game long: no penalties, no fumbles, no drops, no missed assignments, etc.
With Jamaal Williams out, the Titans had to expect that A.J. would be prominently featured in Green Bay’s offense. Presumably they had some kind of plan in place should Dillon prove to be a challenge. Despite the prior notice, the Titans never found a way to keep him contained. Though Tennessee has not possessed a strong defense this season, they’ve not been a pushover either. Prior to Sunday they were right in the middle of the league in rushing yardage allowed. After Dillon and crew ran roughshod over them, they’ve now surrendered an average of 122.5 yards on the ground per game. The 237 yards gained (ignoring kneel downs) by the Packers dropped the Titans into 19th place in rushing defense. It was the worst showing against the run on the season for the Titans – their previous two worst games had been against the Vikes (226) and Colts (133).
Next, consider the position Dillon was in. He’d only had 24 carries in his NFL career, in which he gained a total of 115 yards (4.8 average). He had but one carry since November 1. He also had just come off of six weeks of inactivity while recovering from a nasty case of the coronavirus. Though he obviously kept himself in shape, he had little on-field practice going into Sunday’s game.
Rookie running backs simply aren’t supposed to have the kind of stats A.J. ran up against the Titans. Packers Wire came up with this info: he’s the first Green Bay rookie to rush for at least 120 yards and score at least two rushing touchdowns in a game in team history – a history that goes back 100+ years.
Two-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry didn’t exceed a 124-yard game until going for 131 yards on the 6th outing of his second year, and then didn’t do so again until the 13th game of his third year.
Topping things off, A.J. is a man-child. Though only 22 years old, Dillon was a well-developed power runner while still a teenager. As a teenage freshman in 2017, Dillon amassed 1,589 rushing yards; in ten games as a sophomore, he gained 1,108 yards in 227 carries; he then capped off his career at Boston College by gaining 1,685 yards in 318 carries in 2019. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry as a collegian.
Check out his 2018 and 2019 highlight films here and here. You’ll see that he already had the body, the strength, the speed, and the aggression by the time he turned 20.
By the time Dillon left college and was drafted by GM Gutekunst, he was already a proven workhorse and power rusher. The perceived wisdom is that a lot of college stars encounter difficulties when they take on the superior competition in the NFL. When I compare his college highlight reels with his game film against the Titans, I see a player who is even a more dominant, talented, and powerful force in the pros than he was in college – and he’s still getting better.
Green Bay was already an offensive powerhouse prior to last Sunday. Entering the final week of the regular season, the Packers are back on top in scoring, averaging 31.6 points per game. They also rank third overall in yards gained.
The increased usage of A.J. Dillon should give the Packers an added boost in several ways. Whenever a team faces a massive, powerful, and talented running back, that team almost has to design its defense around slowing such a force down.
Here’s how “Dean” previously put it: “It would be fun to see Jones and Dillon in the backfield together and see how the defense responds. If the defense goes with big bodies then split Jones out and pass it. If they go small, pound the ball on the ground.”
“Mick” also well described the added options this big back offers: “Another key to Dillons’ value; 2nd half of games and watching the opposing defenses try to stop a runaway train! I like it! I like it a lot! Then counter it with the aggresive A. Jones, and versatile Williams. It’s only been one game as far as Dillon goes but, what a different dimension he brings to this already potent offense.”
I like your views, guys. I like them a lot!
The Green Bay coach all of a sudden has some critical choices to make. He’s got up to four games left on the season, and from here on out he’ll be going against teams with more wins than losses every time.
The coach might be reluctant to tinker with an outfit that leads the league in points scored. On the other hand, it wasn’t long ago that even most true-blue Packers fans didn’t think Green Bay had much of a chance to reach the Super Bowl. This likely has changed considerably, as the team is on the cusp of again “running the table” – ending the regular season with six wins in a row.
In my opinion, Green Bay’s Super Bowl prospects improved abruptly when A.J. Dillon came out of obscurity to dominate the Titan’s defense. At any rate, devising ways to make a very good offense even better is not the worst problem a coach or offensive coordinator could have.
On Sunday, LaFleur didn’t seem reluctant at all to not only insert Dillon into the lineup, but to feature him. With Jamaal Williams out for the game, it’s likely that LaFleur planned to use Dillon extensively even if Aaron Jones had not suffered a minor injury.
If anyone knows how a massive power back can influence a game, it’s Matt LaFleur. Though it seems longer, just two years ago LaFleur was the Titans’ offensive coordinator and play caller. Derrick Henry’s number got called 215 times, and Henry had his first 1,000-yard rushing season. In 2019, his workload increased to 303 carries and 1,540 yards.
This year he’s at 340 carries and 1,777 yards – he’s projected to finish with around 1,900 yards after the Titans’ finale regular season game, against the Texans. The NFL’s most recent 2,000-yard rusher was Adrian Peterson in 2012.
Derrick Henry is currently the epitome of an NFL power back. Since around 2,000, I’d only rate two other players as great power runners. Eddie Lacy was one, though his career was compromised by an eating problem.
The other was Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had a controversial 12-year career – he even had a few carries for the Seahawks as recently as 2019. But he’s the modern standard I use as a power runner – and that’s even though he weighed only 215 pounds. It’s all about the thighs, and A.J. has Lynch- and Lacy-sized thighs.
I’m not anointing A.J. Dillon as the next great NFL power rusher, but I’m opining that he’s shone the “potential” for joining these ranks. That potential should render Packers fans giddy with excitement and high hopes for the team’s future.
I’m just happy you used the word ardor in a sentence.
enthusiasm or passion
I think coach MLF knew what he had all along in Dillon, and was purposefully saving him for our playoff push because we were winning without him. If Dillon can maintain ball security (he looked good with both arms covering the ball) he absolutely will ground and pound our way to the super bowl. Fans have been impatiently asking to see our 2nd draft pick all season. Perhaps Covid blessed us by forcing him into reserve. Unleashing this secret weapon to dominate the rest of the way so late in the season when every player has wear and tear. Dillon has the freshest legs. It’s gonna be a blood bath and I can’t wait to watch the carnage!
I’ve only seen the few highlights on Dillon after he was drafted last April. Of course, they have highlights on most draft picks, which inspires fans on every NFL team. A lot of them are hyped beyond belief. After watching Dillons’ highlights above, I feel this kid is special. He is more than a bruiser, he is fast, decisive, durable, and multi-dimensional. I don’t have many reasons to pat Gute on the back; but I have to on this draft choice.
By the Rob, thanks for the highlight videos!!!!!
Ugh. The Bakhtiari news is bad. He was one of those players that they couldn’t afford to lose. Not as bad as an Alexander, Rodgers injury, but it is up there
Least Rodgers is rocking a quick release. Unfortunately their offensive style is greatly challenged by defenses with a fast interior like Tampa Bay. Whoever is holding down baks spot better be prepared for a lot of Khalil mack.
I thought it was a mistake to run so many outside zone runs against TB. The Packers needed to run between the tackles/off tackle straight at TBs speedy ILBs. The Packers guards are not built to be able to reach the TB ILBs on outside runs. The Packers since the last Bears game have been running more between the tackles, and have been doing very well. It helped the Packers that Hicks didn’t play in the Bears game, but the Packers have been running well between the tackles/off tackle against other teams as of late. It has always been my opinion you run straight at speed and use misdirection. Against slower interior teams run outside. Dillion can help in the between the tackle run game against interior speed.
Yea….The bears we face this weekend will probably be tougher than earlier this season, with Hicks back, all the attention can’t just be on Mack.
Although the Packers had the Bears number that game, no Packer player had an outstanding game aside from Rodgers throwing 4 TD;s and 132 rating. Jones had 90 yards (good) and i think Adams had 61 (subpar).
What helped was Trubisky throwing 2 picks and losing one fumble. Giving us a 3-0 TO advantage. I think he got benched after that game.
Also, the Bears scored most of their points in garbage time.
So, again…i’m not saying the Packers will lose, but it will be tougher this time around.
I just peaked.. Montgomery averaged 9.4 YPC, Jones averaged 5.3 YPC.
So i guess Montgomery was the best running back.
Maybe they can run Dillon at Mack a few times to slow Mack down a tad.
It’s not that we don’t care what you think Rob, that’s not true at all. We do care. But you’re human,
It’s just that some of us have been around here for awhile and we’ve seen the euphoria on various players based on little to small sample size, flame out.
I remember during the beginning of the Packers years long search for cornerbacks. Ted drafted Quinton Rollins and Damarius Randall.
During and after their first season, some Packer fans thought Ted hit the jackpot. They thought we had our corners for the next 5-10 years. Excitement ran rapid. Well…………………
I could pull a shitload of comments how great these two players were. But…none from me. Simply because, Having one good game, or one good season, isn’t enough for me. I need to see consistency.
What i will do……is acknowledge game performance.
What i won’t be doing….is listing all the players i can think of who were crowned great, or future great players, that never were great players at all. Simply because, at some point i’d have to get some sleep.
Nobody ever, got voted into the HOF because they had one good game, or one good season.
I think that speedster Jeff Janis is really going to be something! I also think Samkon Gado is going to be an awesome back!
Hello?…..it wasn’t Janis’s fault…McCarthy and Rodgers were out to ruin his career, they hated him.
Any intelligent Packer fan….knew that.
Damn it…i can’t help myself….i apologize ahead of time
“My guy Jeff Janis will gain his freedom on March 14 – the day unrestricted free agents can execute a contract with a new club. Mike McCarthy, though he needs receivers in the worst way, has done everything within his power to ruin Janis’ career.” – anonymous
“Rag on me all you want, but it won’t phase me, because:
“Nothing you could say could tear me away from my guy, (My guy)
Nothing you could do ’cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy. (My guy)
I’m sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter,
Like birds of a feather we stick together,
I’m tellin’ you from the start I can’t be torn apart from my guy.” – anonymous
PF4L February 12, 2018
Yea, i’m not digging the hate that McCarthy has over some players. Rob thought this one out well, and i agree 100%. McCarthy has clearly spent the last 4 years obsessed with derailing Janis’s career. Nothing has ever been so clear to me.
Janis and his agent have kept quiet about it all these years like good soldiers, even though they knew McCarthy’s goal was to ruin Janis.
McCarthy wouldn’t know great football players if they fell on his head. Guys like Janis and now Hundley. Yea, i said it….he ruined Hundleys career also.
ay hombre February 13, 2018
I look forward to Janis being a star somewhere else.
PF4L February 13, 2018
I look forward to watching McCarthy be a success without Aaron Rodgers.
Looks like were both going to be disappointed.
Skinny April 1, 2018
Don’t be surprised if he ends up driving to Pittsburgh first instead of Cleveland.
PF4L April 1, 2018
He’d get lost on the route there.
Truth April 1, 2018
Who’s better cobb the RB or Janis the WR
PF4L April 1, 2018
It’s a trick question!!
PF4L February 13, 2017
So everyone but the Packers passed on Janis in the draft, but now he has trade value? I’m not saying no team will trade for him, i’m saying we don’t know, but i doubt it. If someone can’t make it in the NFL with Rodgers as your QB, it might be time for a career at Costco.
Or…start your own tire shop
All i can tell you if you think this is a death sentence is remember this. In 96 4th string tackle Bruce Wilkerson came off the bench the last game of the regular season and got the job done at Left Tackle for the Pack all the way through to the SB title. They will be fine. Packers know OL as well as anybody. Hell if they had to trot out Yosh Nijman Sunday and beyond I would have complete confidence he can get it done.
How well does Yosh run block? I would be nice to have Lane back now but he’s on IR. I think Lane played left tackle a game or two. Bak is a big loss — GB may have to make up the gap by running more than they have and/or the defense giving up less points per game than the current 23.5. Both are possible, but they are going up against better teams now.
Nijman may be one play away from playing left tackle. I trust LaFleur when he says he will put the best five offensive linemen on the field. If you look at the kneel downs to end games, the team usually puts in Runyan and Nijman in the game. I think the team is saying thanks for working so hard, you aren’t the top five yet, but you deserve some time on the field.
Based on past games Runyan will be next up, but heaven forbid something else happens, I think Nijman is next up unless another offensive lineman is added, or another player has shown in practice to be better or better prepared.
It’s still a damn shame we can’t go in the playoffs with our stout LT.
Guys like that don’t grow on tree’s. Replacing him is almost like replacing Rodgers to a degree.
Fun Fact: Not sure how many know this….
Bakhtiari was Rodgers play clock watcher. Rodgers could then concentrate on the play and reading the defense, David would speak out time left on the clock (not sure when) maybe 5 seconds? I heard this on a broadcast about a month ago. I never knew that.
A hurry up offense solves the need for a play clock watcher.
The Packers tried that briefly for a bit some years ago when they wanted to be able to execute more plays per game, somewhere in the 70-75 range.
But that comes at an expense sometimes. If your not executing, your defense is on the field more.
I remember the picks of Randall and Rollins. At the time, TT explained that Rollins was a basketball player and that his long arms were gonna be an asset. I thought, WHAT????? And we all know Randall was a headcase and a cancer in the locker room. Definately, another of TTs’ snafus’
Dean, I don’t think the Packer will use hurry up very often, and only in certain situations. I’m fairly confident, and have been for years that QB#1 runs the clock down to keep the Packer defense off the field. I know it can be frustrating when Rodgers takes the play clock down to almost zero, but the defense loves it.
I can’t remember who it was, but one of the defensive players in an interview last week or the week before said the defense appreciates the offenses use of the clock. It keeps them fresh in games and for the season. The defensive player (Amos?) laid some of the defenses recent success on the offenses/ Rodgers use/draining of the play and game clock.
If the offense can keep scoring points, then it is good strategy to run down the game clock and reduce the defenses snaps. I think the Packers are still in the top 5 in fewest defensive snaps played this season.
Good points about keeping the defense rested and fresh. I think last week Clark only played 43 snaps — seems like last year he was usually playing closer to 60 snaps per game if I’m remembering right.
IF GB can insert someone else at LT, get the lead and control the game by running the clock all the way down each play, that would be awesome. The key is to convert 3rd downs and then score tds — without Rogers getting hurt. I hope that is possible without Bak. If not, then GB will have to try some other things like running more, hurry up, or??
Howard, we do possess the ball longer, which then keeps the other offense idle. Which will help the defensive rankings in the league.
Not a knock on the defense, but it all counts. There are a lot of intangibles that effect both the offense and the defense and their performance and it’s secondary effect on each other.
But you know that better than most because you’re usually explaining it to us.
Hope you and yours had a happy, safe New Year
Thanks, and may you and your family have a safe and happy new year.
These are excerpts from a Packer blog article Titled… Who Should Win MVP.
Maybe i am a Rodgers fanboy…lol
So be it. Because it will always be.
January 01, 2021 at 07:46 am
And the correct answer is: Who cares?
Winning the Super Bowl is the important thing, not all these BS popularity contests.
January 01, 2021 at 12:32 pm
I care. He deserves to be acknowledged for his performance at 37 years old in a league full of young guns.
Winning a Super Bowl is important. Rodgers should have 1 or 2 more. But he doesn’t. Only one team can win each year, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Hell..just getting into the Super Bowl is hard. Winning NFCCG’s is sometimes very difficult (see Green Bay dysfunctional play)
It’s Most Valuable Player….not Most Popular. Rodgers has earned it.
SHOW SOME RESPECT!
Matt LeFleur at his press Conference today.
I love this guy. To say he says all the right things doesn’t describe him well enough.
Doesn’t seem like a guy who panics.
Has EXCELLENT perspective and seems to know how the team needs to deal with this.
He knows the team has to keep it together mentally, he knows that’s his job to keep the teams spirits up, stay positive, and don’t lose sight on the focus of the job ahead. That has to be fed down from LeFleur, to the coordinators, to the coaches, to the assistants, to the players and staff.
Personally…i think what happened is a damn shame because although not yet proven, this team seemed faster, more aggressive lately, and finally played 4 quality quarters in one game. The Packers were in a good place before this happened, the trick is staying there.
Win this Sunday….Get 2 weeks. It gives the players time to visit Bakhtiari which is important, because i think David will motivate the players and keep them focused.
Just like the 2010 team went out and played for Woodson. This could be the same
I know what i said in the past about this team not winning a Championship. I don’t give a F. I can dream if i want to.
I can visualize it…..Super Bowl Game…..halftime locker room….Bakhtiari on crutches giving a speech, rallying the guys to go out and kick ass and bring him the Lombardi Trophy. Ending with him chugging a big mug of beer as his teammates are screaming wildly.
Like i said….i can dream.
Yes, LaFleur doesn’t seem to panic. I admire the way he handles things; from the media to his game planning. He seems to have the ability to keep the attitude positive amongst the assistants and players. The players like him; that’s really important! I think the players know they have a coach that sticks up for them and brings an excitement to the game. (where as McCarthy was stoic and bull-headed; unwilling to adapt to any changes to HIS game plan) We’re all hoping and dreaming of a super bowl victory, but first; let’s kick the Bears ass and get that home field throughout!
LeFleur and McCarthy are like night and day at Press Conferences.
If LaFleur doesn’t like a question, he puts on a slight goofy grin while rolling his head back a little (as in a eye roll) then give’s the appropriate intelligent response.
Where McTriple would get his disgusted look, followed by his pompous, arrogant, and angry response.
As one NFL GM said awhile back about McCarthy…”it’s not that hard to have success as a head coach in this league when all you’ve had is HOF QB’s.”
We are entering the best time of the NFL season. As usual, this NFL season, just flew by.
Just because, i’m an NFL fan……………..
How bad is the NFC East?
If the Giants beat the Cowboys, and the Eagles beat Washington. There will be a 3 way tie for the lead in the NFC East at 6-10. YES…6-10. The Division winner decided by a tie breaker.
Personal….i don’t see Daniel Jones beating the Boys, and i think the Eagles might roll Washington, as Jalen Hurts wants to secure the starters job going into the off season. But i’ve been wrong before, who can forget that one time in 2017.
With all the talent McGravy has on offense, there is no excuse not to beat out other teams in the East. I used to say…”Lets see what you can do without Rodgers….You Fat F), now we know.
The Bears..even with a loss to the Pack, can still get in with a Arizona loss to the Rams. The Rams meanwhile, could still lose and then still get in with a Bears loss. Simple right?
What do we know….Trubisky should be highly motivated, he might be playing for his career.
Then in the AFC there is the Browns, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Colts, and i don’t care
As usual…no charge.
It’s Bears week! The oldest and greatest rivalry in sports. A lot at stake this time around, as we know that both teams have a lot at stake. For the final game of the regular season, MVP at stake, Adams quest for team records, and home field advantage; it just doesn’t get better than this. The key to this game, I think; is to stop the Bears running game, and to force Trubisky to play Q-back inside the pocket. (where he struggles at times); and play sound STs’.
With Mahomes not playing, i don’t know what Rodgers could do to lose MVP. But shitting the bed this game wouldn’t be a good look.
Mick, A couple of things to look at during the game regarding Trubisky. In the last few games with Trubisky as QB the Bears have used a lot of outside run action with Trubisky then running bootleg to get outside the pocket and pass. The Bears usually do this motion with Trubisky under center and two tight ends lining up in a tight formation.
The thing I find interesting is when Trubisky is in shotgun he does not have consistent footwork. When Trubisky puts his right foot far ahead of his left foot he is 95+% of the time going to stay in the pocket and drop straight back, even if Montgomery is in the backfield. If Trubisky’s right and left foot come closer to parallel then Trubisky will handoff to Montgomery, or on some rare occasions throw a quick outside pass. If Trubisky’s right and left feet are parallel look for the quick outside pass.
I’m not sure why the Bears have not corrected Trubisky’s footwork in shotgun? You can be sure defenses notice this. If you watch Rodgers it does not matter if he throws deep, quick outside, or a handoff his footwork is always the same, left foot in front of right.
I, like PF4L, haven’t really watched Trubisky that close either. In the past, I’ve noticed he isn’t as effective in the pocket; compared to when he moves around. Good observation Howard! It’s baffling to think that an offensive coach like Nagy hasn’t spotted that glitch in Trubiskys’ mechanics.