The Green Bay Packers’ plans at running back won’t change despite Aaron Jones’ two-game suspension.
Mike McCarthy’s plans to take on a running back-by-committee approach certainly included second-year running back Aaron Jones.
With Jones now suspended for the opening two games of the season, as reported by Ryan Wood of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday, the Green Bay Packers will have to rely on Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams.
But that doesn’t mean McCarthy will change his plans at the position.
While McCarthy is open to having one featured running back, which he told ESPN’s Rob Demovsky last month, it’s unlikely Jones’ suspension will impact his decision.
McCarthy has liked to have a featured back in recent years. You only have to go back to 2013 and 2014 with Eddie Lacy. James Starks contributed, but he was the clear number two behind Lacy, who put together consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Even last year, the Packers used Ty Montgomery in the featured role to start the season, before an injury opened the door for Jones and Williams to force their way into McCarthy’s plans.
Here’s why Jones’ suspension likely won’t impact McCarthy’s decision.
First of all, if one of the Packers’ top three running backs is to emerge in a featured role, it will be Jones. While Williams was the team’s leading rusher last season — with 556 yards compared to Jones’ 448 — it took him almost twice as many carries to do so (153 to 81).
Jones was the lead back for a short time last year, and in that role he delivered. Jones’ 5.5 yards per carry was far and away the Packers’ best. He also had six runs of over 20 yards — Williams and Montgomery only had one each.
If one of the three backs is to take on a featured role, it will be Jones.
The second reason is the length of the suspension. Jones will only miss two games. Not five or six. Just two.
Sure, they’re huge games. The first is a home meeting with the new-look Chicago Bears. That’s followed by a visit of last season’s NFC North-winning Minnesota Vikings. The Packers can’t afford to lose to either division rival at Lambeau Field.
McCarthy should be confident that the duo of Montgomery and Williams can play well even without Jones available. They both did exactly that last season when Jones was injured.
Jones’ absence will also open an opportunity for Devante Mays. If he puts together a strong training camp and secures a spot on the 53-man roster, he could be part of the Packers’ plans in the opening two games.
Jones’ suspension is bad news for the Green Bay Packers’ offense, but it shouldn’t change Mike McCarthy’s plans to start the year with a running back-by-committee approach.