It has been almost five years since a single Green Bay Packers running back recorded as many receiving yards as Aaron Jones did on Sunday afternoon in Texas. Jones was a monster in Sunday’s game, rushing for over 100 yards at 5.6 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns on the ground, but his receiving contributions were critical to the Packers’ game plan.
Jones finished the game with 75 receiving yards on seven receptions, good for an average of 10.7 yards per catch. That by far led the team, as Jimmy Graham’s three catches for 41 yards put him second in both categories.
But just how good was it in the context of recent Packers history?
To find the last time a Packers running back recorded 75 receiving yards or more, one must go back almost five years to the 2014 season. That year, Eddie Lacy had a ridiculous receiving performance in week eight against the New Orleans Saints, catching eight of nine targets for a whopping 123 yards.
Rodgers fed Lacy sporadically in the first half of that game, but he broke a screen pass for 67 yards in the first quarter with the game tied at seven. After the first half, Lacy had three catches for 85 yards and the game was tied 16-16. However, the Saints pulled away in the third quarter, and with Rodgers and the Packers trying to mount a comeback, Lacy became a dump-off option when big plays weren’t there for Rodgers. In fact, on one series with the score 37-16, Rodgers threw to Lacy on five straight plays, completing four of those passes for 36 yards, including a ten-yard gain on fourth-and-six. That drive culminated in a 14-yard Rodgers touchdown run to get the Packers back within two possessions, but New Orleans pulled away with an onside kick recovery and a touchdown on the next series.
Jones’ game of course came in a victory, and it was clear that he was going to be a factor in the passing game from the jump. He caught a pair of passes on the Packers’ opening drive, including a six-yard gain on the first play of the game, then had two more targets on the second drive. But while a few of Jones’ targets were indeed dump-offs from Rodgers, head coach Matt LaFleur also was scheming throws to him out of the backfield on routes into the flat and screen passes.
It was a great game plan from LaFleur, getting the ball into the hands of the team’s most explosive playmaker — at least the most explosive playmaker who was active, thanks to Davante Adams’ toe injury. Jones did great work finding cutback lanes on the ground en route to 107 yards rushing, but his ability to shake tacklers in the open field after the catch led to several big gains and first downs through the air.
If Adams remains out for any more time, expect Jones to continue to feast as both a receiver and a runner, as he proved that he is the most dangerous offensive weapon on the team without 17 on the field.