Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones Could Hit Historic Numbers in 2018
In 2017, you could describe the Packers’ running back situation in one easy word: unusual.
The Packers spent the entire offseason insisting that Ty Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, was their starting running back, despite spending a whopping three draft picks on running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Not only did they devote unusual levels of resources to the running back position, the Packers also got unusual levels of production from their rookies. Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones ran for 558 and 448 yards respectively, just the fourth time in Packers history that two first year players had passed the 250 yard mark in the same season.
But if the 2017 story at running back was unusual, 2018 figues to be just the opposite. The Packers didn’t draft any running backs this spring, and they signed just one free agent, bringing on Joel Bouagnon way back in January.
The Packers clearly feel confident in their running back group, and Williams and Jones are a big reason why. Though Montgomery has been productive when healthy, “when healthy” has been hard to come by on a regular basis.
Williams and Jones could hit rare numbers in 2018
The Packers’ two second year backs will probably be the main drivers of the ground game, and that’s where things get interesting.
Presumably, both Williams and Jones will get plenty of opportunities. Though Mike McCarthy has historically preferred to give one running back, based on last year, there’s really no reason to assume one guy is going to get all the carries in 2018. Though Jones disappeared at times (occasionally due to injury and occasionally due to the coaches apparently forgetting he existed), both Williams and Jones got a lot of chances throughout the year and that hopefully will continue next season.
Assuming this will be the case (and that both will be healthy), Williams and Jones could be ready to enter some rare air as a duo of second year running backs. Just nine players in Packers history have rushed for 500 or more yards in their second season. One of them was Tobin Rote, who hit that plateau when people who were born before the Civil War were still alive.
Even if the Packers figure to pass the ball a lot more with Aaron Rodgers healthy and slinging passes to Jimmy Graham and the rest of the very tall receiving corps, Williams and Jones could both have a good shot at 500 yards this season. If they hit the mark, they’ll be the first pair of young Packers backs to do it together.