Aaron Jones made his debut on the NFL 100 tonight, ranking as the league’s 33rd best player in his first appearance on the list.
During Aaron Jones’ rookie season, the Packers had the third best running attack in football by DVOA. In 2018, they finished third again. Last year, they plummeted to fourth. Much of their success can be attributed to a dominant offensive line anchored by David Bakhtiari (comically low on this list) and Bryan Bulaga, but let us also sing praise for Jones, who is almost certainly the best Packers running back since Ahman Green.
Jones scored a franchise record 23 touchdowns last year, which is the reason he’s on the list. But we should also look a little deeper because Jones is about much more than his touchdowns. He’s never finished outside the top 7 in DVOA, and while he struggled with his receiving and blocking early in his career, he’s made impressive strides in both categories, and especially as a deep threat.
Cracking 1000 yards on just 236 carries is no small feat, and his 9.7 yards per reception ranked eighth among qualifying running backs. The knock on Jones before this year was simply volume, as Mike McCarthy preferred a more even split between Jones and Jamaal Williams, and didn’t run the ball as much as LaFleur, but on a per play basis Jones has been an elite player his entire career, and now that he’s had the volume to put up some gaudy counting stats, everyone knows it.
Running backs may, as they say, not matter, but that’s a gross oversimplification. Jones may play on the less glamorous side of the offense, but the run game has made a huge comeback, and he is far more efficient than his battery mate. The Packers would be worse without him, and his position here is well earned.