What a debut it was for Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones in his first pro start. When it was all over, Jones had gained 125 yards on 19 carries, for a sparkling 6.6 yard average. Jones ran for more yards than did Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, though Elliott had 10 more carries.
Through four games, Green Bay’s longest run was for 13 yards – by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. On this day, however, Jones had runs of 22, 15, 13, and 10 yards.
Dallas had seemed an unlikely team to have run success against. Last year, no rusher had a 100-yard effort against the Cowboys. Though Jones looked winded when he was shown on the sidelines, he got better as the game went on – 93 of his yards came in the second half.
And his first NFL reception was something that would make Jordy Nelson envious. I’m reserving separate treatment for that effort.
Behind the Game Statistics
Jones is listed at 5’8” and weighing 208 pounds. Somehow, he doesn’t look that short, and he doesn’t look that stocky either. He might remind you of another Packers runner from a few years ago: DuJuan Harris. Harris, who was with the Packers from 2012 through 2014, was 5’7” and weighed 206. Both were quick and shifty, but Harris never had a game like Jones just laid down.
One source I just checked shows Jones with a 4.49 NFL Combine dash speed and a 4.58 pro day speed. Let’s call him adequate, but not fast. As for his 10-yard split, I have him at widely different times of either 1.51 or 1.64 – the much quicker time looked like the more accurate one against the Cowboys. My previous source, mockdraftable.com has him at 4.56, which might have caused me to underestimate his potential.
The rest of Jones’ measurables are fine: his two agility drill times rank him in the 57th and 86th percentiles; his two jump tests put him around the 90th percentile; he did 16 bench presses. Curiously, his arm length is 32.5 inches, the same as Jordy Nelson and Jeff Janis. But for the speed, he’s a first-class athlete.
Of the 19 carries, I showed nine of them going outside the tackle, with four of those being sweeps around the end. When was the last time you saw a Green Bay runner successfully run a sweep? Almost all of these runs went to the left side, behind temporary tackle Lane Taylor — where the Packers must have spotted a weakness. Only one carry went for a loss. On that play, which went right up the middle, the Packers used a three-tight-ends-and-fullback formation. It was about the only time Mike McCarthy reverted back to what didn’t work in the first four games.
The Packers showed great trust when they gave the ball to Jones with 45 seconds left in the game, and he responded with a 15-yard run inside tackle Bryan Bulaga and then cutting wide – and he alertly got out of bounds.
The primary skill that Jones put on display on Sunday was great vision. In following his blocks, but with minimal hesitation, he got maximum yardage on almost every play. As coach Lombardi would say, Jones ran to daylight.