On Saturday of Super Bowl week, a pair of young Green Bay Packers stopped by the set of Good Morning Football, the NFL Network’s morning show, to talk about their rookie seasons and plans for the future in Green and Gold.
The duo was Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, the Packers’ talented running backs. The two were drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, respectively, and each had very impressive moments during their first NFL campaigns. Jones was the shiftier runner with an impressive burst, while Williams proved to be more of a grinding, between-the-tackles runner.
However, they both showed chops as receivers as well, with Williams actually putting up better production in that phase of the game than Jones, who came into the NFL with the reputation of being a talented receiving back. Williams, who played all 16 games and started seven contests, caught 25 of 34 targets in 2017 for 262 yards — an impressive 10.5 yards per reception average — with two touchdowns through the air. Jones, meanwhile, caught nine passes for just 22 yards in his 12 games (four starts).
Still, both players credit Ty Montgomery, the third-year wide receiver-turned-running back, for helping teach them about how to contribute as receivers. “Ty’s like a big brother to us,” Williams told the GMFB crew. “He’s always helping us out.”
Jones remembered meeting Montgomery for the first time and being confused by his position switch. “He’s built like a running back,” Jones said. “I was like, you was a receiver? You’re big!”
However, with Montgomery’s versatility and ability to split out wide, the Packers coaching staff emphasized the ability to line up in various positions for their rookie backs as well. “Since he’s been a wide receiver, we gotta be out there in the ones (split wide) and the slot,” Williams said. “I ain’t really run routes past five yards!” A look at Williams’ college stats illustrate how little he was used as a receiver at BYU and why that aspect of the game was such a big change for him; in fact, he had more receiving yards in 2017 than he did in his final three college seasons combined.
The vast experience that Montgomery brings as a receiver has been helpful for his young proteges. Jones noted in particular that #88 works closely with the rookies on understanding the techniques of the receiver position: “When we’re lining up out there at receiver, what do you do against press coverage? What do you do when a man’s off? He knows the offense inside out so we got a question we’re going to him.”
The plans for the running back position in the 2018 season are surely yet to be determined. However, expect to see all three players utilized heavily in the game plan, hopefully with some packages featuring multiple backs on the field at once.
To close the interview, each the two backs were asked to say something about their roommate that people outside of the team might not know about. For Jones, the big thing about Williams is his obsession with video games, a hobby that Williams himself discussed on The APC Podcast a few weeks ago. “Jamaal’s a video gamer. I pull up to the mall to get something for when we’re traveling, Jamaal walks out with a box, I’m like ‘what’s that?’ It’s so he can play video games on the plane!”
Meanwhile, Jones apparently has some narcoleptic tendencies, according to Williams: “Aaron can fall asleep at any time. As long as he’s closed his eyes, he is slumped ... and you can’t wake him up!” Thankfully, Jones hasn’t fallen asleep on the sideline or in the game, as his vision was one of the biggest positives he demonstrated as a rookie.
Look for these two to take a big leap forward in their second seasons under new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Check out a clip of their interview below.