There’s one thing you probably didn’t know about Packers receiver, A.J. Dillon: he was a member of the Chicago Bears when they brought him in for their final game against the Baltimore Ravens last year during Week 17 to help pad out their roster just before playoff time began.
The “Matt LaFleur’s Scary Truth About A.J. Dillon and What It Means for the Green Bay Packers” is a blog post by Matt LaFleur, the new head coach of the Green Bay Packers. In this article, he discusses how A.J. Dillon has been playing poorly in recent weeks, but what it means for the team going forward. Read more in detail here: matt lafleur.
As free agency approaches and the start of the 2022 league calendar approaches, the Green Bay Packers are dealing with a lot of unknowns. This is a club that, depending on the fates of players like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, may look significantly different at the start of the season.
However, the Packers have a strong running back duo in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, who form one of the strongest one-two punches in the league.
Head coach Matt LaFleur recently spoke to the media about their running back combo and had an opinion about Dillon in particular that should put the rest of the league (and particularly the NFC North) on notice.
The Green Bay Packers, according to Matt LaFleur, have two No. 1 running backs.
Green Bay Packers’ A.J. Dillon #28 runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field in the first half | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
The days of the bell-cow back, who logged 30 to 40 runs a week and was a team’s primary offensive option, are long gone. Players like Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, and LaDainian Tomlinson could propel a club into the playoffs on their own back then. They were even considered MVP contenders. Alexander was named MVP of the NFL in 2005. The next season, Tomlinson won it.
It was an age of outstanding running backs, but that style of play has been replaced by a more wide-open approach that relies on MVP quarterback performance and many star wide receivers.
Of course, running backs are still crucial, but clubs have grown tired of the position’s wear and tear. Running back by committee is becoming more popular, and few teams are doing it better than the Packers right now. Jones and Dillon are their “thunder and lightning” combo.
According to NFL.com, LaFleur recently said, “We’re lucky, we’ve got two No. 1 backs.” “They each have something unique to offer.” But one thing I like about both of those players is not just their ability to run the football at a high level, but also their passing game contributions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in coverage, catching out of the backfield, or lining them out wide. I believe both of those players are really versatile, which is a key aspect of our attack.”
In 2022, the Packers anticipate even more from Dillon.
When GM Brian Gutekunst selected Dillon with the Packers’ second-round choice in the 2020 draft, he made headlines. Dillon was Green Bay’s next choice following Jordan Love, thus the timing was significant. You may not remember how people reacted when Dillon was picked right after Love, but it wasn’t good.
The public was overwhelmingly in favor of the Packers picking a wide receiver in that selection to provide Rodgers with additional options. Despite having Jones and Jamaal Williams on the roster, Gutekunst picked Rodgers’ heir apparent and then followed up with a running back.
When the emotion of the moment subsided, it was clear what the Packers saw in Dillon. Running backs with his stature (6-foot-247 pounds) and agility don’t come around every day. He’s been likened to Derick Henry, and the comparison is still valid two years later.
It’s particularly true after witnessing what Dillon was capable of doing as Jones’ 1B last season. Despite coming off the bench, he actually led the Packers in running. Jones carried for 799 yards and four touchdowns on 171 carries. Dillon rushed for 803 yards and five touchdowns on 187 carries. In addition, he caught 34 receptions for 313 yards and two scores.
The rushing back had a breakthrough season, being noted for his brutal destructive style and surprising quickness in space.
But, looking forward to 2022 and beyond, LaFleur has high hopes.
“I felt we blended him in a reasonable bit last year,” LaFleur said, “but evidently not enough.” “He’s a top running back.”
A.J. Dillon, according to the Packers, has not yet achieved his ceiling.
A.J. Dillon (28) of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Detroit Lions in the second half of an NFL football game | Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Dillon seems like he’s channeling his inner Jerome Bettis when he runs the football. When he’s in space, though, he possesses Jamaal Charles’ footwork, burst, and agility.
There’s a reason Dillon is so highly regarded by the Packers. There aren’t many players with Dillon’s skill set, even if Jones is explosive and quick-twitch.
It takes a unique kind of player to be able to run a defender over one play and then juke them out of their socks the next. No, he’s not Derrick Henry, but the Packers don’t want to employ Dillon in the same way they use Henry.
Green Bay is pleased to keep defenders guessing with Jones’ and Dillon’s opposing running styles. Jones, on the other hand, deserves his fair share of shots. Few players in the league can currently take it to the house as he can.
Still, while watching Green Bay’s offense, you get the impression that it’s greatest when the two are functioning together. One sideline to sideline scares the defense, while the other is a hammer and a nail heading downhill.
“We’re very thrilled about both of those players,” LaFleur said, “and I believe AJ is just touching the surface of what he can be.”
Dillon is already a fantastic athlete. Is it possible that he may reach still another level in his third season? The rest of the NFL, particularly the NFC North, must be on edge as a result.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provides contract information.
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