StaTuesday: Packers' Aaron Jones could thrive in featured role

August 27, 2019

New coach, new coordinator, same question: Is this finally the year of Aaron Jones?

The Green Bay Packers running back's potential has been a hot topic since his arrival back in 2017.

One of three running backs drafted by the Packers that year, Jones split time with fellow rookie Jamaal Williams and converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery back in 2017.

He showed plenty of promise, averaging 5.5 yards per carry while going off for 100-plus yards and a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5 and the New Orleans Saints in Week 7.

He took another step forward in 2018 after serving a two-game suspension to start the season.

A bright spot on a team in turmoil, Jones out-produced Williams across the board last season. Jones had 728 yards and eight touchdowns on 133 carries, while Williams managed 464 yards and three touchdowns on 121 carries.

Now, with a new coaching staff to run the offense, Jones could be in line for a larger share of the backfield.

If his resume thus far is any indication, a backfield centered on Jones could be the Packers' best option.

Jones has averaged 5.6 yards per touch to this point in his career on a combined 249 rushing attempts and catches over the past two seasons.

That's right around a full workload for the league's few remaining workhorse running backs: Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers, Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams and David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals were the only players in the NFL to reach 300 touches last season.

Player Team Touches Yards/Touch
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 381 5.3
Saquon Barkley NYG 352 5.8
Christian McCaffrey CAR 326 6.0
Todd Gurley LAR 315 5.8
David Johnson ARZ 308 4.5

With that sort of workload Jones could be a monster. His current pace equals out to 1,680 all-purpose yards with 300 touches, which would have ranked eighth in the NFL last season and sixth amongst running backs.

Six running backs had 250-plus carries last season: Elliot, Barkley, Johnson, Gurley, Adrian Peterson of the Washington Redskins and Jordan Howard, formerly of the Chicago Bears, while the Seattle Seahawks' Chris Carson had 247.

Jones has averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 214 career carries for 1,117 rushing yards.

At that pace Jones would have 1,375 rushing yards on 250 carries, which would have ranked second in the NFL last season.

Player Team Rushing yards Attempts Y/A TD
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 1,434 304 4.7 6
Saquon Barkley NYG 1,307 261 5.0 11
Todd Gurley LAR 1,251 256 4.9 17
Joe Mixon CIN 1,168 237 4.9 8
Chris Carson SEA 1,151 247 4.7 9

For Green Bay, such a scenario isn't unprecedented.

There are 13 instances of a player with 300-plus touches in Packers history. Most recently, Eddie Lacy racked up 319 touches in 2013 for 1,435 all-purpose yards.

The Packers have struggled with stability at the position in the years since.

Lacy topped 1,000 yards again the following season, the last time a Packers running back reached the milestone. He split time with James Starks in 2015, before both went down with injuries in 2016, handing the job to Montgomery.

The Packers also drafted another running back year, Notre Dame's Dexter Williams, in the sixth round.

A simple solution, however, might be the answer.