Maybe the Green Bay Packers have finally figured out how to best use their running backs after all.
On Sunday against Washington, the Packers played the two backs at about a 60/40 rate. Aaron Jones continues to get just a handful more snaps than Jamaal Williams, but in this game, the team finally force-fed him the football, to great success.
Jones finished the game with 22 touches, either carrying or catching the ball on over 60 percent of the plays he was on the field. Williams, conversely, had just seven touches, for a touch rate of about 27 percent. And those touch numbers yielded tremendous results, with Jones going for 8.4 yards per carry and almost 10 yards per reception, while Williams gained just 3.4 yards per carry.
Perhaps the secret to getting the most out of the two backs is not necessarily dividing up the snap counts differently, but simply making sure that Jones gets the football when he does take the field. That will be food for thought for head coach Matt LaFleur and company as they head into the final three games of the season, all against NFC North competition.
OFFENSE (62 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 62
It was a tale of two halves for Rodgers once again, as the Packers’ quarterback started hot and cooled off massively after halftime. Rodgers was 10-for-15 for 124 yards and a touchdown in the first half, worthy of a passer rating of 114.3. But after the break, Rodgers completed just eight of 13 passes for 74 yards. He added 16 yards on the ground on five carries.
Aaron Jones 36, Jamaal Williams 26, Danny Vitale 12
While the snap counts don’t show it, the Packers fed Aaron Jones the ball consistently in this game, and he out-touched Williams by a three-to-one ratio. Six of Jones’ carries went for 10 yards or more, including a 42-yard gain and pickups of 15 and 23 on back-to-back plays to start the second half. He finished the day with 16 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown, and got into the act as a receiver as well. Jones hauled in a magnificent 25-yard reception out of the slot on a 3rd-and-14 from the Packers’ own 7-yard line en route to a 6-catch, 58-yard day through the air.
Meanwhile, Williams only had 10 fewer snaps, but he had just seven carries for 24 yards and failed to haul in his only target in the passing game. Williams was on the field for the Packers’ second drive, a three-and-out, as well as the series late in the first half that culminated in Rodgers being sacked and fumbling the football. The two switched off more in the second half though, sharing time on the team’s long field goal drive in the fourth quarter.
Davante Adams 52, Geronimo Allison 36, Allen Lazard 34, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 10, Jake Kumerow 7
The Green Bay receivers were particularly quiet in this contest, combining for just 71 receiving yards on seven receptions. Four and 41 of those were from Davante Adams, while Lazard caught two balls for 19 yards and Allison had one reception for 11 (and fumbled, but was ruled to be down by contact on replay).
Meanwhile, MVS continues to see his playing time cut, which fans learned from Matt LaFleur this week is in part because Adams has moved over to his position. It seems that Lazard has taken MVS’ snaps rather than Allison’s as many had expected (and hoped), but the second-year Lazard continues to consistently take the field for more than 50 percent of the team’s offensive plays.
Marcedes Lewis 39, Jimmy Graham 32, Robert Tonyan 20, Jace Sternberger 6
While the receivers had little production, the Packers did get their tight ends involved in the game plan, particularly early on. Graham finished the day with three catches on five targets for 49 yards, including a 20-yard gain over the middle on the team’s first offensive play. Tonyan finally got back into the offense with some significance, catching a 12-yard touchdown on the team’s third series for a 14-0 lead.
A week after he finally scored his first touchdown as a Packer, Lewis had just one catch for five yards but was consistently on the field in 12 and 13 personnel as a blocker. He was at least part of the reason that the Packers rushed for 174 yards at 6.2 yards per carry in the game.
David Bakhtiari 62, Elgton Jenkins 62, Corey Linsley 62, Bryan Bulaga 60, Billly Turner 60, Alex Light 2, Lucas Patrick 2
The Packers got a nearly-full game from their entire line, with Bulaga and Turner coming off the field for a pair of kneel-downs at the end of the game.
Meanwhile, the Packers allowed four sacks, one each by Mat Ioannidis, Da’Ron Payne, Ryan Kerrigan, and Ryan Anderson. The Anderson sack — a sack-strip on an extended play — was entirely on Rodgers, however.
DEFENSE (65 plays)
Kenny Clark 56, Dean Lowry 39, Tyler Lancaster 23, Montravius Adams 6, Kingsley Keke 3
For weeks, Clark has done his job quietly without any eye-popping numbers. He came into this game with just 1.5 sacks on the season, all coming in the first two weeks. However, he matched that on Sunday with another 1.5 sacks and three total tackles.
Lowry picked up three tackles in the run game, while Lancaster had five (including one TFL) and Keke had one.
Za’Darius Smith 61, Preston Smith 59, Kyler Fackrell 33, Rashan Gary 13
The Packers’ edge rushers harrassed Dwayne Haskins for much of the game, with every member of this group recording either a TFL (Gary), QB hit (Fackrell), or at least one of each (both Smiths). Preston recorded a full sack and three hits in his first game against his old team, while Za’Darius had three tackles and a forced fumble on Adrian Peterson.
Fackrell got a half-sack, bringing his total up to one full sack on the year. Gary got credit for a TFL when he brought down Peterson after his recovery of his own fumble, but he did make three solo tackles in his 13 snaps.
Blake Martinez 65, B.J. Goodson 14
Both of the Packers’ linebackers were active in this game, with Martinez picking up ten total tackles (plus a pass breakup) and Goodson making five tackles. The team went heavier early on, then switched back to more nickel and dime as the game went along, leaving Goodson’s workload fairly light.
Adrian Amos 65, Darnell Savage 65, Ibraheim Campbell 15
The Packers got seven tackles, a sack, and an interception from Adrian Amos in one of his best stat lines since coming over from Chicago this offseason. Amos also broke up a second pass to show up all over the stat sheet. Savage had three tackles and a forced fumble, forcing it out of Chris Thompson on a short pass over the middle.
Jaire Alexander 63, Tramon Williams 60, Chandon Sullivan 49, Josh Jackson 26
With no Kevin King available, Alexander shadowed rookie receiver Terry McLaurin and largely kept him in check until a late touchdown. McLaurin had no receptions on three targets in the first half, though he caught all four passes thrown his way in the second half for 57 yards and a score. In total, Alexander had three solo tackles on the day.
Meanwhile, Williams made a pair of tackles and Jackson had one. Chandon Sullivan picked up four solo tackles and a pass breakup.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Oren Burks 19, Ty Summers 18, Ibraheim Campbell 17, Josh Jackson 17, Will Redmond 16, Chandon Sullivan 14, Jake Kumerow 13, Danny Vitale 11