After the week one showing against the Minnesota Vikings, the biggest change was the increased usage of the Green Bay Packers running backs in the game plan. There was a severe discord with the Packers offense last week, with a lack of rhythm and an all around cluster of mistakes at every skill position. This week, from the first play the duo of running backs were able to get in a groove that set the stage for how the next 60 minutes of football would be played out.
Aaron Jones continues to prove why he was paid the amount he was, being explosive through tight gaps and using his sharp cuts to gash the defending scheme. AJ Dillon emerged past the developmental stage and was a force to be reckoned with against the Chicago Bears. Together they made up the dynamic duo which proved too much for the Chicago Bears defense.
They bounce off each other perfectly between Jones’ slipping through gaps and eluding defenders, and Dillon falling forward with every contact and pushing to get necessary yards. The major improvement was the amount of touches they both received in the running game. During Week 1, they combined for a meager 15 total rushes for 94 yards, while this week they elevated their rush total to a strong 33 rushes for 193 yards.
Neither Jones or Dillon was on the field for more than five plays without switching or the other one also coming onto the field. To reliably rush without your running back core is a privilege that the Green Bay Packers should not take lightly, but again, this is only capable because Dillon has proven he can hold his share of the play snaps and contribute at a highly effective level. Arguments made that with the constant switching, the duo aren’t able to consistently carry momentum into their runs, which contributes to some awkwardness. However, the pair of running backs work smoothly off of each other because they are able to feed off of each other’s momentum and can provide a powerful running game. Their off field connection strengthens this with AJ Dillon calling Aaron Jones a “big brother”, and through their relationship they are able to bounce off of each other during the game.
None of this would be possible without both Dillon and Jones buying into the game plan. As previously said, the running backs were called to provide more than last week. Every first down was helmed with a rush by either back, and the corresponding play would be dictated by the result of the rush. One look featured the Packer’s split back formation, in which they used that formation on 11 plays. They used the formation on 28 plays for the entire season a year ago. The formation allowed extreme flexibility for audibles based on what Aaron Rodgers read from the defense. Short screens, wheel or flat routes, an inside or outside rush, or counters could all be run by either running back, which it gave very little for the Bears to be able to read. When they were in the split back formation whichever running back that wasn’t handed the ball would deliver strong blocks which only further strengthened their selfless play.
This playstyle also allows the rookie receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs more time to fit with the team and offensive scheme. Next week, the Packers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by Tom Brady. Will the Packer’s stick to the same game plan? And importantly, how will they respond to adversity that the Buccaneer’s defense undoubtedly provides?