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Packers Show Their Love for Aaron Jones – and It Only Took Five Years

It’s an indictment of every NFL team’s general manager that running back Aaron Jones wasn’t drafted until late in the fifth round in 2017, the 182nd player chosen that year. It’s even more of a scandal that the Packers didn’t properly appreciate his value prior to this year.

Jones has been ready for the pros from the day he joined the Packers. As a rookie in 2017, Mike McCarthy didn’t give him a carry for the first four games. Then Jones finally got a chance in Week 5, and proceeded to be named rookie of the week. He then repeated that honor in week 7, when he had 17 carries for 131 yards, though in a loss to the Saints.

Jones has been on my radar screen for a long time, including these postings: “Aaron Jones an NFL Feel-Good Story” (10/30/17) (here); “Aaron Jones: Under-used and Misused” (1/15/19) (here); “¡Salud! El Paso for Your Gift to Green Bay” (10/31/1) (here); “Aaron Jones Transcends His Profession” (12/11/19) (here); and, “Packers Roster Features Several Draft and Acquisition Steals” (8/12/21) (here).
Though the Packers only started this treasure in four games as a rookie, and in eight games in his second year, Aaron has always been productive. In three of his four prior years, he’s averaged 5.5 yards per carry. That’s both greatness and consistency, especially for a team that until recently was comprised of just average run blockers.

Starting with coach Mike McCarthy, and continuing on for two years with Matt LaFleur, Packers fans were led to believe that Jones would need plenty of rest if the little guy (5’9”, 208#) were to survive in the NFL. We were also fed the line that teammate Jamaal Williams and Jones were similarly talented, so platooning the two was the smart move. Finally, since Jones had only71 pass receptions at UTEP, we were told that Jones was limited as a receiver.

This was despite the fact that Jones was a prolific player at UTEP from 2013 through 2016. Over his career there, he averaged 6.3 yards per run; in his final year he averaged an absurd 7.7 yards per carry – and this was despite being relentlessly targeted, as he was the only quality player at UTEP in his years there. And yes, the more carries the El Paso native got, the better he played.

Aaron Jones

It took over four years of inspired and stellar play in Green Bay before the Packers acknowledged his value to the team. The first occasion was on March 26, when the team surprised almost all the pundits by signing him to a four-year deal for $48 million. The second time the team gave proper recognition to his abilities was on Monday night when, at a critical time following an opening-season blowout loss, they largely entrusted the ball and the outcome of the game to him.

Jones wound up with 17 carries for 67 yards and one touchdown on the ground; he also hauled in six catches for 48 yards and three more touchdowns. That’s 115 yards out of the team’s 323 offensive production. Jones was particularly impressive when it came to third down conversions and red-zone production, which are the stats that win games in the NFL. This should come as no surprise, as he’s been a touchdown machine whenever he’s been given the chance in Green Bay.

Equally pleasing, on Monday night, Matt LaFleur at long last expertly varied his play calls, with Jones going up the middle, veering off tackle, being sent wide, and running a bunch of screens and quick-hitting pass routes. Though he broke no big plays, he got every yard possible out of each opportunity. The first Green Bay touchdown was a thing of beauty, with Jones going in motion, taking a touch pass from Rodgers, and sweeping around the left side into the end zone. We’ve been hearing about jet sweeps since LaFleur arrive in town, but have only seen one every five games or so – leave it to Jones to demonstrate how to execute a jet sweep.

Sep 20, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) reacts after scoring his third touchdown of the game against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Jones has increasingly been given the ball over the years, but he is still nowhere near to the carries of the league-leading running backs. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 190 rushing carries and 40.7 pass completions. The rushes compare to Derrick Henry’s 298.7 average rushes over the last three years. When last healthy for a season, in Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey had 278 rushes and an astounding 116 pass receptions in 2019. Alvin Kamara is another running back who thrives as a pass receiver, as he’s had over 80 catches in each of his past three seasons.

Henry has received plenty of acclaim for his production, including two Pro Bowls and two All-Pro designations, (one second-team) and being named offensive player of the year last season. McCaffrey has also been a Pro Bowler and twice an All-Pro (one second-team). Kamara is a four-time Pro Bowler and a two-time second-team All Pro. The only league-wide recognition Jones has received was being named to the Pro Bowl last season.

In my mind, Jones is a top tier running back, alongside Henry, McCaffrey, Kamara, and the ever-improving Dalvin Cook. It’s just not as apparent because the Packers have so under-utilized him.

At the same time, I’ll grant you that Aaron Jones is not among the ten most talented, or athletic, running backs in the league. He gets the job done through effort, determination and giving his all on every play, including as a blocker. Jones is also a tremendous clutch player. As he showed on Monday night, when the game is on the line, he’s at his best.

Packers RB Aaron Jones

Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

As the team was gearing up for a championship run this spring, much emphasis was given to how strong this team’s leadership and veteran presence is. So what does Matt LaFleur do? He gets Jones five carries and two catches, for a total output of 22 yards against the Saints. As smart as he is, the head coach makes his fair share of big blunders – which I guess goes with being an inexperienced NFL head coach. To his credit, however, he admits to his mistakes, and he seldom repeats them.

On Monday night, the Packers committed to letting their offensive playmakers, Rodgers, Jones, and Adams, take command of the game. If the coaching staff continues to follow that course, it bodes well for the rest of the season. Let’s have Aaron Jones earn his $12 million annual paycheck.

Tags:
Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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40 Comments

  1. Tom M September 25, 2021

    Rob, I don’t think anyone questions the value of Aaron Jones. It’s the position he plays that gets devalued. It just isn’t that difficult to find a good RB, much like WR, in any draft. Consider the 2017 draft. Dalvin Cook was drafted in the top of the 2nd round while Aaron Jones in the 5th. Now, you could argue that Cook is better, but is he three rounds better? Of course not. Take this years draft, Kylin Hill was drafted in the 7th round. Will there be that much of a drop off if Aaron Jones went down with injury? I think not. And there’s a reason his carries should be monitored. He’s missed games due to injury. Now, those injuries haven’t been significant like the ACL Cook had. But they’ve been injuries none the less. Also Aaron Jones is nothing like Derrick Henry. Henry is a generational talent in the mold of Earl Campbell and Bo Jackson. While the NFL is full of guys like Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon as well others. You pay RB’s big money at your own risk. Both the Rams (Cam Akers) and 49ers (Raheem Mostert) have lost their featured backs to season ending injury. While Zeke Elliott isn’t RB he was when he signed his big contract. RB’s are constantly nicked up due to all the contact they endure. Is it any wonder then that most are done by 30? Very few RB’s are worth a second contract. Jones was only signed because it was a team friendly deal. Lastly Ron, this notion that Matt LaFleur’s game plan varies from week to week can be attributed to Aaron Rodgers. Some weeks this offense looks like Matt LaFleur’s offense with a lot of motion and Jets sweeps and bubble screens. While other weeks it looks like Aaron Rodgers offense. Seven step drops and wait for Davante Adams to get open. With Matt LaFleur’s offense at the whim of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers offense is very predictable and easy to defend. While Matt LaFleur’s offense gives you multiple looks and gives you the best chance to win. It is my belief this internal conflict played a large part in the Jordan Love pick. But that’s for another article and another discussion.

    Reply
  2. rebelgb September 25, 2021

    So $48 million wasnt a sign of gratitude and appreciation? Wow wish I got that kind of admiration….

    Reply
  3. Ferris September 25, 2021

    Dear TT,

    Thank you for drafting Aaron Jones. Everyone loves him and he is a great player.

    P.S. The Kevin King over TJ Watt pick may have cost the team a SB berth. ( Matty should have gone on 4th down too though)
    But King sucks…you could play corner better than him and you are dead.

    Reply
    1. Tom M September 26, 2021

      And how many SB’s has TJ Watt won in Pittsburgh? Is TJ Watt 50 million better ZaDaruis Smith? They’ve got one thing in common. They’re both hurt. Maybe MLF didn’t trust his QB. After all, Rodgers had 1st and goal at the 8.

      Reply
      1. PF4L September 26, 2021

        So very combative….
        .
        Yes, i believe we should judge Aaron Rodgers on that one set of downs,
        .
        Hell..maybe even bring it up for the 28th time.
        After all, he was 100% responsible and if i hear anything different from anyone, you in trouble and you families in trouble.
        .
        I have spoken.

        Reply
      2. Ferris September 26, 2021

        He’s better than King. That was my point asshat. I don’t remember mentioning Smith. And I said they should have gone for it. Not sure what you are saying…except you are saying you are an idiot.

        Reply
        1. Tom M September 27, 2021

          Thank you professor Ferris. You sound like your girlfriend PF4L who uses stats to tell us Adams is better than MVS. Why, you don’t say? None of us can see that TJ Watt is better than Kevin King without your acute observation. We would not have won a SB with TJ Watt. How do I know this? Because we’ve had virtually the same player Z’Darius Smith the last two years. Thus the comparison to the two. Refresh my memory, how many SB’s have we won? If you want to frame an argument around TJ Watt, you’re better served by saying this. Had we drafted TJ Watt, we could have used those FA dollars we spent on Z Smith on a corner, or ILB, or a 2nd WR. And you’d be correct. But to say we’d have won a SB had we drafted TJ Watt is an emotional response and not accurate.

          Reply
          1. PF4L September 27, 2021

            Smh…..Reading comprehension is hard!!
            .
            Please Tommi….don’t explain to someone how to frame an argument.
            You can’t argue something, when you……
            1) misinterpret it
            2) don’t understand it
            3) i think you need to go back to school.
            .
            Bottom line, you can’t argue about something you miscomprehend.
            ..
            When you try to, you lose before you get started and frankly junior, you’re embarrassing yourself.
            .
            Stay in school kids!

            Reply
  4. NobodysBurfect September 25, 2021

    Tom – Derrick Henry comes off the field on third down because he can’t catch the ball. Calling him a generational talent is ridiculous. Jones can line up wide, in the slot, and he’s a great pass protector for his size. Not to mention he’s a safety net for quick dump offs, and obviously his value as a RB. He brings more to the team than Henry ever could, that sort of person isn’t easily replaceable in any round.

    .

    By the way – the bitch fest between you & PF4L is getting old. Spend your free time looking up 40 yard dash results like Rob does.

    Reply
    1. PF4L September 25, 2021

      Yea!!!!!
      .
      Knock it the fuck off!!
      .
      (just tryin to help)
      .
      :)
      ***************
      Sorry…just trying to lighten things up….smile GDI ..Life is good!
      .
      But yea…what he said was pretty stupid.

      Reply
    2. Tom M September 26, 2021

      We’ll find out soon enough, NobodysBurfect. At some point Aaron Jones will miss time this season. And when he does Kylin Hill will get the call and then we’ll see which one of us is right. Aaron Jones has Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams to take the pressure off. The self proclaimed GOAT and the NFL’s best WR. Who does Derrick Henry have? Ryan Tannehill? Please! Defenses stack the box for Derrick Henry and it still doesn’t matter. I saw Derrick Henry go into Seattle and single handedly beat the Seahawks last week with Ryan Tannehill as his QB. Let’s see Aaron Jones do that. But none of that matters, it’s all about 40 times and 3rd down! Right, Nobodysperfect? Aaron Jones is a great player to be sure, but there are at least 4 or 5 other guys who I mentioned that can do the same thing. There isn’t another back in the league that carries his team the way Henry does. Like Adrian Peterson before him, guys like Derrick Henry don’t come along that often.

      Reply
      1. PF4L September 26, 2021

        Look at Tommi…tryin to act kinda normal.
        .
        Damn proud son…..in this moment in time.

        Reply
      2. NobodysBurfect September 29, 2021

        And I saw perennial pro bowlers Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster, and Christian Kirksey hold Henry to under 70 yards last year. Did you not catch that game? Wait what am I thinking, you were watching the Vikings that day.

        .

        Yeah – “generational talent”

        Reply
  5. Deepsky September 25, 2021

    In the biggest game of the season last year Super Bowl appearance on the line, Aaron Jones had six carries for 27 yards. He’s only really good at the beginning of the season. He’s small and can be pushed around by any physical team. Yeah he’s an excellent running back I think but I don’t think he’s a top-tier running back at all.

    Reply
    1. PF4L September 29, 2021

      I’m not so sure that’s the game you want to use as a template for judging Aaron Jones.

      Reply
  6. PF4L September 25, 2021

    I read somewhere that, if Aaron Jones got injured, there wouldn’t be much drop off with 7th rounder Kylin Hill.
    .
    I took a moment to ponder if that might be the dumbest thing i’ve ever read, or if it just made the top 3.
    Then i thought….NAW!…Someone’s pulling a fast one…lol
    .
    Now sure, Hill showed some flashes on a couple of kick-off returns. Cool.

    But lets do a reality check…how does a [career total] of 7 carries and 22 yards put you anywhere….ANY FREAKING WHERE in that neighborhood?
    I mean….is this really what i’m reading?
    .
    How about in pass catching?
    Well…lets put pass catching on hold until he catches a few passes, capiche?
    .
    Maybe…if Jones goes down, we start 7th round pick Kylin Hill.
    Sounds like plan….oops..wait a GD second here
    What about Quadzilla?
    .
    Meh…he can stay on the bench.
    We’ll let him start if it happens to snow and we’re playing a team from down south.
    .
    7th round pick?….not much drop off?…22 yards?…..3,1 ypc…Always keep em laughing!!
    My gut hurts from laughing so hard. That’s a damn good joke.
    .
    What’s next?…Mark Murphy was a NFLPA attorney?
    .
    Tell us another one!!

    Reply
    1. Tom M September 26, 2021

      You know who Aaron Rodgers played like in the season opener PF4L? He looked a lot like Ryan Tannehill. And what kind of game did Aaron Jones have? A shitty one. That’s what Derrick Henry has to deal with week after week all season long and he’s still a stud. You substitute Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, and I’m sure they’re others, for Aaron Jones and you get the same performance. No one can do what Derrick Henry does. No one. Aaron Jones is a better player than Kylin Hill. I’m not debating that. What I’m saying is the drop off from the two isn’t as significant as everyone thinks. We’ll revisit this after Aaron Jones inevitably injury and see how Kylin Hill holds up by comparison.

      Reply
      1. PF4L September 27, 2021

        7th round pick?….not much drop off?…(career)…22 yards?…..3,1 ypc?…Always keep em laughing!!
        My gut hurts from laughing so hard. That’s a damn good joke.

        Reply
  7. PF4L September 26, 2021

    PSA: UPADTE…. that some may even call it article worthy.
    The Packers play the 49ers tonight at Levi’s Stadium at 7:20 PM CDT.
    .
    I don’t even know who Levi is but he must have a lot of money.
    .
    Interesting to note and not enjoyable to talk about.
    Elton Jenkins is out
    .
    I asked Rodgers to describe what that means..
    Rodgers: RUH ROH…Maybe we should let Jordan start and let him showcase his talents.
    .
    My guess is they slide Billy T over to the left and put in Dennis “cement shoes” Kelly in at right tackle.
    .
    What could go wrong right?

    Reply
    1. Tom M September 26, 2021

      And the 49ers will have virtually no running game. It’s not like they don’t have issues either. They’ll be no excuses for the Aaron Rodgers tonight PF4L. It’s time for your GOAT to be great. Are you suggesting our best chance to win tonight is to start Jordan Love? “Micheal Jordan” is 1-6 when playing on the west coast. You could certainly make a compelling argument. Rodgers has only one more win on the west coast than Love. Considering Jordan Love has never started an NFL game, that’s significant. And it’s Levi, you know, after the jeans. So yes, they’ve got a few extra bucks….

      Reply
      1. PF4L September 26, 2021

        Ummmmm…Did i say the 49ers didn’t have issues? I don’t believe i did, but…..
        i understand, you’re just doing what you do.
        .
        Tommi…seriously…i don’t give a fuck.
        .
        Rodgers sucks…i get it, everyone gets it, and everyone’s got it. and everyone gets it the 121st time you’ve told all of us.
        .
        WE KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!!
        .
        ANY CHANCE YOU CAN PLAY ANOTHER SONG?
        .
        IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?
        ***********************
        IN RELATED: Justin Herbert, the 2020 1st round QB who won ROTY despite Covid restrictions, claimed his famed today by beating Patrick Mahomee.
        .
        Therefore…under logic (i learned in here) we can now declare Herbert a better QB than Mahomes.
        Because he beat him. You heard me…because he beat him…see what i did there?
        .
        Now i have to go study, and learn how to spell “update”.
        .
        Thanks for reading.

        Reply
  8. Mick September 26, 2021

    As reported by Zack Kruse on the Packers Wire site; Yosh Nijman is the starter at LT tonight against San Fran!

    Reply
    1. PF4L September 26, 2021

      That’s a head scratcher…my first thought was, will he last past the 2nd quarter…idk….give the man his shot i guess, it’s up to him.
      .
      I gotta bounce, i heard somebody reported a murder in Haven Wi.
      .
      USA!…USA!!!….USA!!

      Reply
    2. Tom M September 26, 2021

      Good for Yosh Nijman. He’s made strides and was the best backup tackle in camp. The Packers need to find out if he’s the RT for next year and this will be the perfect test.

      Reply
  9. MJ September 26, 2021

    Tommy does not realize that our brilliant Front Office who can do no wrong, whiffed on TJ Watt (Ted’s last FU to the fans). The Steelers had him on his ROOKIE CONTRACT for a bunch of years, and now have to cough it up. Did we happen to have Z. Smith on his ROOKIE CONTRACT? Oh… nevermind, then. And we will just give Rashan the same contract we gave Nick Perry (not Gute’s fault, was on Ted’s watch). Heck, we may not even ask a good year out of Rashan to give him 10M a year, after all, he was the 12th pick, and that choice could not possibly be wrong.

    Same explanation goes for the idiot crowd that says, doing their best Adam Sandler impersonation, “see? King was tha wright pikk, y’know, now we don’ havcha give TJ Watt a bazillion dollars, heh, those poor Steelers”.

    ****************

    Once the rookie contracts are over, the only thing your team gets is a right to be the first to try to retain a player, but the cap is only so many dollars. Then those premium guys enter a free for all, where teams usually overpay, but have to, since it’s “get the free agent or downgrade to replacement level”.

    That is how a team can become great with a couple of good drafts, only to fall apart within 4 years, when the talented guys want to be paid, and deservedly so. The only way you can sustain such a high level is if you keep drafting as well as in your two hypothetical great drafts, which normally does not happen.

    Reply
  10. MJ September 26, 2021

    Regarding the outstanding comment on Derrick Henry not having any help, Ryan Tannehill is not the same player he was with the Dolphins. Somehow, he found his footing. Not saying he will challenge Mahomes anytime soon, but he can (and has) punished defenses for stacking the box against Derrick Henry.

    **

    The site does not seem to let me post below the comment I want to reply to.

    Reply
    1. Tom M September 26, 2021

      Actually your right MJ. Ryan Tannehill has found his footing. And you know who that footing is? Derrick Henry. He doesn’t have to be Patrick Mahomes as long as he’s got Henry. As far as TJ Watt, we’ve had Z’Darius Smith the last two years. I’m not a stat guy but I’m guessing their numbers are similar. What I can tell you is neither has won a championship during that time. With TJ Watt signing 100 million dollar contract which makes Z’s contract a bargain. That’s a lot of money for a non QB. I don’t buy into the notion that having Watt makes us a SB winner somehow.

      Reply
  11. Packtat87 September 26, 2021

    Kevin King is out tonight baby! Let’s hope Stokes is up for the challenge. He couldn’t be worse…right?

    Reply
    1. Mitch Anthony September 26, 2021

      Nope, not at all worse. In fact, even with that questionable DPI thrown against him, he’s showing some real upside and coverage skills. I said before that I’ll take the rookie mistakes of a Stokes over what we already know of King.

      Now Gary showed up a couple times tonight but I’m still expecting better from him as #12 pick. Doing better but still not sealing the deal for me.

      How about that young O-line tonight? Some of those unseasoned players really stepped up in the face of Bosa and 49ers. Some really nice run lanes opened up for Jones on some of those plays.

      Reply
      1. Yawa September 26, 2021

        The defence was better without him hope he never dresses again, Summers made a couple plays but him and Burks don’t belong on the field. Finally some pass rush was nice to see Preston had his best game in quite a while.

        Those kids on the o-line were great, Jones is a stud and Rodgers is dialed in, fuck anyone who believes Love could have won that game. Crosby is still clutch.

        Reply
  12. Stiggy September 26, 2021

    7 minutes left in the game…3 stupid fucking passes.

    Reply
    1. Dean September 26, 2021

      Why not? Play to win with SF hurting at the CB position.

      Reply
  13. Ferris September 26, 2021

    So nice to not see King get beat over and over and over and over…infinity. There was actually something that resembled a pass rush too. Tom please tell us why Aaron Rodgers sucks after I mention King and nothing about Rodgers.

    Reply
  14. Dean September 26, 2021

    MVS looked good tonight but Adams sure is clutch. You can see why #12 looks His way allot.
    .
    The DL looked better tonight.

    Reply
  15. INPKRBKR September 27, 2021

    All I can say is WOW! What a game. I was hoping for the trifecta this weekend but the Badgers ruined that. Way to go Brew Crew and Da Pack!

    Reply
    1. PF4L September 27, 2021

      Ryder Cup….Brewers….Packers…= Trifecta

      Reply
      1. Mick September 27, 2021

        Big win for the Pack! Also, very happy for Steve Stricker and the USA team at the Ryder Cup! With Stricker going with a lot of young players and having them handle that kind of pressure sure is a good sign for future cup competitions. I’m thinking Stokes is learning real quick and is the answer at CB. Any update on ILB Barnes?

        Reply
        1. PF4L September 27, 2021

          Yea, great weekend sans the Badgers. I think Christie is on his way out.
          I hope the next Badger coach has a pulse.
          *
          Barnes is concussed.
          I love me some Campbell. All go, all the time. Good motor.
          Barnes is the signal caller, but that may be that he’s more familiar.
          I’m not down on Barnes (at all), i just want to see progression and make a flash play here n there.
          .
          Bottom line…so far Campbell is a nice upgrade, credit to Gute if he keeps it up..

          Reply
  16. PF4L September 27, 2021

    I overestimated the 49ers, and i underestimated the Packers O line….My bad.

    I still think they are going to improve as the season goes, because the 49ers have almost everyone back from Covid and injury from last season.
    ****************************
    How bad are the Steelers?
    .
    Against the Bengals…the Steelers held a time of possession advantage of almost 11 minutes. They ran 35 more plays than the Bengals, and lost 24-10.
    Partly due to poor red zone performance.
    ******************
    The Packers defense glaring weakness is the red zone.
    The Packers defense is 0 for 10, defending the red zone.
    .
    I think the Steelers might be just what’s needed here for our defense as the Steeler offense is 3 for 7 in the red zone. Plus the fact they only got there 7 times in 3 games.
    .
    Stats….because they tell a story for those smart enough to understand them.

    Reply
    1. MMSUCKS September 27, 2021

      Yep, there are a few in here that just follow the “I hate Rodgers” mantra, and to hell with the stats. It also appears that Rodgers does care, and that he IS that good. Hell, he even admits when he fucks up . . . what a pleasant change from the arrogance of Mark Murphy, Gutekunst, and a few Upper-management followers or “salts” that were planted in here to dirty Rodgers standing. They NEVER ADMIT there faults . . . they just gaslight, conflate, and blame Rodgers for everything from O line to the defense . . . Screw them. Go Pack Go!

      Reply

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