The Packers need to give Aaron Jones more opportunities.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur likes to rotate his running backs with the aim of keeping them as fresh as possible for late in the season.
It makes sense. However, with that comes the risk of the offense not putting in the best performance possible that week.
Jamaal Williams is a talented running back, there’s no doubt, but Aaron Jones is a game-changer. A difference-maker. And one of the most explosive running backs in the league. When Jones finds his rhythm, the Packers offense can be close to unstoppable.
But he needs opportunities.
Take last week’s game as an example. Jones had twice as many carries as Williams but still only 10 attempts.
It wasn’t Jones’ finest game. Outside of a 15-yard run, he averaged under three yards per carry on his other nine attempts against an excellent Colts defense. That said, he also didn’t get much of an opportunity to get going.
Opposing defenses will be delighted if Jones has 10 or fewer carries against them. It would be like giving Davante Adams half as many targets.
Packers need to balance risk-reward
I can completely understand LaFleur’s approach. If he can keep Jones fresh, he will be able to dominate against tired defenses when the playoffs begin.
However, it’s also possible that by not giving Jones more opportunities now, the Packers fall short in games they could’ve won.
Last week’s game against the Colts was a close one. But at one stage, the Packers held a 14-point advantage. In the third quarter they ran only six offensive plays with consecutive three-and-outs.
On the first drive, Jones rushed for three yards on first down and then caught a pass for three yards. These were only small gains but it did set up a manageable third down. After an incomplete deep shot to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, they punted away.
When they finally got the ball back, Jones ran for six yards on second down to set up a third-and-1. Instead of sticking with the ground game, Aaron Rodgers threw incomplete to Davante Adams.
Indianapolis’ defense is a talented one but had Green Bay committed to the ground game with Jones, the offense could’ve got in some rhythm and maintained its advantage in the game.
Six games are left and the Packers are in contention for the NFC North title and the number one seed. Now is the time to give Jones a significant role on offense.