Aaron Jones announced his return to the Green Bay Packers’ backfield with a bang on Sunday. On the third drive of the game, Jones saw his first snaps and immediately impressed with his vision and balance, picking up 18 yards on his first two carries. Predictably, the Packers coaching staff used the other two running backs more often on Sunday, but with Jones getting his feet wet again after a two-game suspension, he demonstrated the skill set that fans have been clamoring for the entire offseason.
In week four, don’t be surprised if his burst of productivity ends up increasing his snap count. Yes, he still faces questions about his pass-blocking, but the ways in which he was used late in the game suggest that the coaching staff is ready to roll him out in all situations, which should be a boon for the Green Bay offense as a whole.
Here’s how the offensive and defensive playing time broke down.
OFFENSE (69 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 69
Once again, Rodgers played the entire game on his bad knee, scrambling around a few times and taking several hits. Rodgers completed 27 of 44 passes for 265 yards and two scores, good for a passer rating of 93.5. However, if three crucial passes aren’t dropped, that line probably looks more like 30/44 for 300 yards, not to mention any additional numbers that Rodgers might have added if the drives continued. Catching those three passes alone would have bumped Rodgers’ passer rating back over 100 for the game.
Jamaal Williams 30, Ty Montgomery 20, Aaron Jones 17
Williams and Montgomery alternated on the first two drives of the game with only moderate success. Then Jones took the field and provided the spark that the Packers’ running game has been missing, running for ten and eight yards on his first two carries. Jones added a 17-yard run later on in the game and finished with six rushes for 42 yards.
Notably, Williams and Montgomery each had runs of double-digit yardage, but finished five for 29 and four for 16 respectively. Montgomery was more productive as a receiver, with six catches on seven targets for 48 yards.
Jones should have earned a heftier snap count in future games by virtue of his rushing ability and explosiveness. The team did put him on the field late in the game when the Packers were trying to mount a comeback, a sign that either his pass-blocking has improved or that they wanted his receiving ability on the field. Hopefully the former is true, as that would indeed earn him more consistent playing time. Still, expect Mike McCarthy to keep rolling his backs throughout the game rather than dedicating 40-50 snaps to any one (preferably Jones).
Davante Adams 68, Randall Cobb 65, Geronimo Allison 52, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 12
Cobb put up perhaps his worst game as a pro on Sunday despite playing nearly every snap. He caught four of 11 targets for 23 yards, but he fumbled away one of those catches in the late stages of the game during a comeback attempt. He also dropped a perfect pass from Rodgers on the Packers’ first third down of the game and another on a would-be fourth down conversion that was ruled incomplete on review. More than anyone else, Cobb is responsible for the struggles of the offense on the day.
Adams has failed to produce big plays consistently this year, but he remains a valuable possession receiver. He led the team with seven catches (on nine targets) but picked up just 52 yards. He did score another touchdown, his third of the year, putting him in a tie for third in the NFL.
Allison had the Packers’ biggest play of the day, a 64-yard touchdown up the middle. It was the Packers’ only play that went for longer than 19 yards in the entire game. MVS’ biggest contributions were on special teams, where he downed one punt at the one-yard line and made two tackles, including one great stop at the 15-yard line on a kickoff return.
Jimmy Graham 64, Lance Kendricks 10, Marcedes Lewis 7
After being eliminated from the game plan in week one by the Bears, Graham has been a steady option for Rodgers, as he caught five of seven passes for 45 yards. That included a crucial first down reception near the goal line on a third-and-10 which led to Adams’ touchdown.
Kendricks had fewer snaps than usual in this game, perhaps because the Packers were behind so quickly. His only notable play was a brutal drop on third down up the right sideline; Rodgers floated a perfect pass to him 15 yards downfield, but he could not make an easy catch. Lewis continues to be a non-factor, and we keep wondering when the Packers will work him into the game plan more fully.
David Bakhtiari 69, Lane Taylor 69, Corey Linsley 69, Justin McCray 56, Jason Spriggs 41, Bryan Bulaga 28, Byron Bell 7, Lucas Patrick 6
For the first time, the Packers’ line was hit with injuries in this game. Bulaga left before halftime with a back injury and was replaced by Spriggs, who was called for a pair of penalties (one false start and one hold). McCray also left the game late and was first replaced by Patrick — who was flagged for a hold of his own and led to
DEFENSE (61 plays)
Kenny Clark 56, Mike Daniels 49, Dean Lowry 24, Muhammad Wilkerson 23, Montravius Adams 5
The big injury story from the first half was the loss of Wilkerson, who had his ankle rolled up on by Kentrell Brice on the play before the two-minute warning. Wilkerson was not only taken from the field on a cart, but he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, suggesting that he suffered a broken ankle. If so, that may put him out for the remainder of the season, which would likely require the Packers to add a lineman from the practice squad or outside the organization.
His loss also led to the significant playing time for Clark and Daniels, as the two were both on the field for over 80% of the team’s snaps. Clark actually tied for the team lead in total tackles with nine and added a pass breakup for good measure. Meanwhile, Daniels did not appear on the stat sheet at all.
Clay Matthews 39, Nick Perry 38, Reggie Gilbert 24, Kyler Fackrell 23
On some drives, the Packers started with Gilbert and Fackrell on the field for base downs then substituted Matthews and Perry in on third downs, but to little avail. Matthews had what should have been the Packers’ only sack of the day, but saw it erased by the latest controversial roughing the passer penalty on him. Other than that, he had two tackles and one of just two hits on Alex Smith. Meanwhile, Perry put up seven total tackles including one for loss, but no hits or sacks of Smith. Gilbert and Fackrell combined for three total tackles.
Blake Martinez 61, Antonio Morrison 23, Oren Burks 8, Korey Toomer 2
Burks made his rookie debut, but saw very little playing time despite Washington’s Chris Thompson being one of the better receiving backs in the NFL and the combination of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis at tight end. He did make a tackle on his first snap, but had just one thereafter. Morrison had four total tackles but continues to be picked on in the passing game.
Meanwhile, Martinez tied Clark with nine tackles and added a pass breakup.
Kentrell Brice 61, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 61, Jermaine Whitehead 15
When he wasn’t injuring his teammate, Brice was busy with another brutal game, helping to allow the early touchdown pass to Paul Richardson by failing to locate the football. Clinton-Dix overran several receivers after the catch, allowing them to pick up more yardage. He did have the Packers’ only interception, but it came as Reed appeared to stop on a route rather than as an excellent play on the football.
Tramon Williams 59, Jaire Alexander 57, Josh Jackson 37, Davon House 6
First, let’s discuss House. In 19 total snaps (6 on defense and 13 on special teams) he was flagged twice. The first was for pass interference in the end zone — on a play where he never let go of the receiver — and the second on an awful holding penalty on the punt return team. He was effectively benched, even with Kevin King inactive.
When Jackson was on the field, he was largely lined up in the slot with Alexander and Williams on the boundary. Alexander was in coverage on the outside on Richardson’s touchdown, but he and Williams largely held up well — the Washington receivers caught just five of nine targets, though those went for 85 yards and two touchdowns.