The Unsung Linchpin of 2023

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With the draft over, I've been thinking about the coming season and what the Packers need to accomplish.

Priority #1 must be to support Jordan Love's development and get a good assessment of him in order to determine whether or not he's the future.

The team obviously demonstrated the priority of that goal by loading up on pass catchers in the draft, some of whom will hopefully be ready to help Love right away.

But another major aspect of support for Love is the running game.

In 2020, the year which I believe to be the clearest picture of how LaFleur wants his offense to operate, the Packers ran 990 offensive plays and had 443 rush attempts. That is a 45/55 run/pass split. I believe that in 2023, that ratio will end up being even a little bit higher. If we estimate a split of 47/53 in 2023, that means that the Packers will need to come up with ~470 carries. And if they want Love to be in a position to succeed/grow (and not forced into an abundance of 3rd and long situations), those carries need to be effective and not just perfunctory.

If we project that carry distribution, let's say Love takes care of 70 of those attempts on his own and another ~15 or so are end-around, WR, gimmick, etc. That still leaves 385 carries for running backs.

First up is obviously Aaron Jones. Jones, in his career, has missed: 4, 4, 0, 2, 2, and 0 games respectively. Let's project that he plays 14 full games and averages 13 carries per game played. That would be 182 carries. He's exceeded that total in three of the last four seasons, but players don't get more durable as they age.

That leaves 203 carries left to be accounted for, and the lion's share of them will go to the player whom I propose is quietly one of the most critically important guys on the roster this season:

A.J. Dillon

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In Dillon's three season's as a Packer, his YPC has gone from 5.3 to 4.3 to 4.1. Caveat-- he only carried the ball 46 times during that first season.

Part of the drop in YPC can be explained by his heavier usage inside the red zone, which obviously includes goal line and short yardage. Between the 20's, he's been around 4.5 YPC in both 2021 and 2022. However, that is still a pretty significant drop off for the offense, as Aaron Jones is closer to 6.0 YPC until he enters the red zone.

If Dillon is highly inefficient in 2023, the offense is going to feel it in a major way because they essentially have no choice but to feed the ball. However, if he's highly motivated in this contract year and the blocking is there, he also has the potential to make a huge positive influence on both Love and the offense in general. For that reason, I consider him to quietly be one of the most important players on the entire roster this season.
 
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With the draft over, I've been thinking about the coming season and what the Packers need to accomplish.

Priority #1 must be to support Jordan Love's development and get a good assessment of him in order to determine whether or not he's the future.

The team obviously demonstrated the priority of that goal by loading up on pass catchers in the draft, some of whom will hopefully be ready to help Love right away.

But another major aspect of support for Love is the running game.

In 2020, the year which I believe to be the clearest picture of how LaFleur wants his offense to operate, the Packers ran 990 offensive plays and had 443 rush attempts. That is a 45/55 run/pass split. I believe that in 2023, that ratio will end up being even a little bit higher. If we estimate a split of 47/53 in 2023, that means that the Packers will need to come up with ~470 carries. And if they want Love to be in a position to succeed/grow (and not forced into an abundance of 3rd and long situations), those carries need to be effective and not just perfunctory.

If we project that carry distribution, let's say Love takes care of 70 of those attempts on his own and another ~15 or so are end-around, WR, gimmick, etc. That still leaves 385 carries for running backs.

First up is obviously Aaron Jones. Jones, in his career, has missed: 4, 4, 0, 2, 2, and 0 games respectively. Let's project that he plays 14 full games and averages 13 carries per game played. That would be 182 carries. He's exceeded that total in three of the last four seasons, but players don't get more durable as they age.

That leaves 203 carries left to be accounted for, and the lion's share of them will go to the player whom I propose is quietly one of the most critically important guys on the roster this season:

A.J. Dillon

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In Dillon's three season's as a Packer, his YPC has gone from 5.3 to 4.3 to 4.1. Caveat-- he only carried the ball 46 times during that first season.

Part of the drop in YPC can be explained by his heavier usage inside the red zone, which obviously includes goal line and short yardage. Between the 20's, he's been around 4.5 YPC in both 2021 and 2022. However, that is still a pretty significant drop off for the offense, as Aaron Jones is closer to 6.0 YPC until he enters the red zone.

If Dillon is highly inefficient in 2023, the offense is going to feel it in a major way because they essentially have no choice but to feed the ball. However, if he's highly motivated in this contract year and the blocking is there, he also has the potential to make a huge positive influence on both Love and the offense in general. For that reason, I consider him to quietly be one of the most important players on the entire roster this season.
Good stuff.
While the league has obviously devalued the Running game (just calling a spade a spade) there are absolutely and situationally times to lean on it more (to the utter dismay of several posters who think 20 rushes per contest are more than adequate) The Injury to players, Controlling the Clock/Tempo, allowing the passing phase to ramp up, to name a few.

Your point on Dillon is not just opinion, it’s factual. Dillon has essentially the same number of 1st Downs (-1) on far less carry count than Aaron Jones. As you stated, It’s not because of YPC either. Dillons 1st down % to carry should be lower than Jones, not higher.. as proof.

Why were we struggling with 2 dynamic RB’s and an MVP type QB?
I don’t believe we’ve had the ideal blocking OL. We have heavily invested at OL from 2020-22
(9 players!). When you go later Day2 to Day3, Its usually that 3rd/4th season where you start to see those positive results. We had 3 Rookies last season and the other 6 drafted OL were in their 2nd/3rd seasons. We are now starting season 4,3,2 for that grouping.
I strongly suspect we see a marked improvement as a OL group in run blocking this season.

There’s a really good chance that Dillon gets both a bigger workload and slightly higher per carry this season. Jones will struggle to maintain his 6.1 per carry, but his increased workload should keep him close in Total yards output.
 
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Poppa San

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I believe the season and thus the offense will depend on how the right side of the O-line develops. Pro-bowl level would be fantastic but for this season I can get by with better than journey man level play. Somebody needs to seize the opportunity at each spot.
 

milani

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Good stuff.
While the league has obviously devalued the Running game (just calling a spade a spade) there are absolutely and situationally times to lean on it more (to the utter dismay of several posters who think 20 rushes per contest are more than adequate) The Injury to players, Controlling the Clock/Tempo, allowing the passing phase to ramp up, to name a few.

Your point on Dillon is not just opinion, it’s factual. Dillon has essentially the same number of 1st Downs (-1) on far less carry count than Aaron Jones. As you stated, It’s not because of YPC either. Dillons 1st down % to carry should be lower than Jones, not higher.. as proof.

Why were we struggling with 2 dynamic RB’s and an MVP type QB?
I don’t believe we’ve had the ideal blocking OL. We have heavily invested at OL from 2020-22
(9 players!). When you go later Day2 to Day3, Its usually that 3rd/4th season where you start to see those positive results. We had 3 Rookies last season and the other 6 drafted OL were in their .2nd/3rd seasons. We are now starting season 4,3,2 for that grouping.
I strongly suspect we see a marked improvement as a OL group in run blocking this season.

There’s a really good chance that Dillon gets both a bigger workload and slightly higher per carry this season. Jones will struggle to maintain his 6.1 per carry, but his increased workload should keep him close in Total yards output.
I still wish we could incorporate a FB into our offense. Even Rodgers knew how important John Kuhn was to moving the chains or getting us in the end zone. Ahman Green does not set the Packer rushing records if he does not have a FB.
 

PikeBadger

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With the draft over, I've been thinking about the coming season and what the Packers need to accomplish.

Priority #1 must be to support Jordan Love's development and get a good assessment of him in order to determine whether or not he's the future.

The team obviously demonstrated the priority of that goal by loading up on pass catchers in the draft, some of whom will hopefully be ready to help Love right away.

But another major aspect of support for Love is the running game.

In 2020, the year which I believe to be the clearest picture of how LaFleur wants his offense to operate, the Packers ran 990 offensive plays and had 443 rush attempts. That is a 45/55 run/pass split. I believe that in 2023, that ratio will end up being even a little bit higher. If we estimate a split of 47/53 in 2023, that means that the Packers will need to come up with ~470 carries. And if they want Love to be in a position to succeed/grow (and not forced into an abundance of 3rd and long situations), those carries need to be effective and not just perfunctory.

If we project that carry distribution, let's say Love takes care of 70 of those attempts on his own and another ~15 or so are end-around, WR, gimmick, etc. That still leaves 385 carries for running backs.

First up is obviously Aaron Jones. Jones, in his career, has missed: 4, 4, 0, 2, 2, and 0 games respectively. Let's project that he plays 14 full games and averages 13 carries per game played. That would be 182 carries. He's exceeded that total in three of the last four seasons, but players don't get more durable as they age.

That leaves 203 carries left to be accounted for, and the lion's share of them will go to the player whom I propose is quietly one of the most critically important guys on the roster this season:

A.J. Dillon

You must be logged in to see this image or video!



In Dillon's three season's as a Packer, his YPC has gone from 5.3 to 4.3 to 4.1. Caveat-- he only carried the ball 46 times during that first season.

Part of the drop in YPC can be explained by his heavier usage inside the red zone, which obviously includes goal line and short yardage. Between the 20's, he's been around 4.5 YPC in both 2021 and 2022. However, that is still a pretty significant drop off for the offense, as Aaron Jones is closer to 6.0 YPC until he enters the red zone.

If Dillon is highly inefficient in 2023, the offense is going to feel it in a major way because they essentially have no choice but to feed the ball. However, if he's highly motivated in this contract year and the blocking is there, he also has the potential to make a huge positive influence on both Love and the offense in general. For that reason, I consider him to quietly be one of the most important players on the entire roster this season.
Dillon's health imo is of huge importance to this team's hopes for success. I'll be very disappointed if only 15 plays are of the WR/TE end around/gimmicky types. This is LaFleur's chance to put defenses on skates by throwing the kitchen sink at them in terms of running game. Show em everything and show it enough that it's considered an integral part of the offense.
 

MadCat

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I still wish we could incorporate a FB into our offense. Even Rodgers knew how important John Kuhn was to moving the chains or getting us in the end zone. Ahman Green does not set the Packer rushing records if he does not have a FB.
I agree. This year will be tough offensively with an inexperienced QB and all first or second year WRs, and defenses focusing on the run. More creativity in the running game could go a long way.
 

milani

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I agree. This year will be tough offensively with an inexperienced QB and all first or second year WRs, and defenses focusing on the run. More creativity in the running game could go a long way.
I know with the spread formations today only a few teams use a FB. I just think it adds options in goal line and short yardage situations. And it must be someone who has a pair of hands. Size is good but versatility is better.
 

tynimiller

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Honestly...I think adding the bowling ball wrecker that is VERY used to carrying the ball in Lew Nichols was an insurance policy against most likely scenario of where one of our RBs missing a game or two...Goodson I suspect is the Jones replacement this year while Lew is for sure the Dillon guy in reserve.
 
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Honestly...I think adding the bowling ball wrecker that is VERY used to carrying the ball in Lew Nichols was an insurance policy against most likely scenario of where one of our RBs missing a game or two...Goodson I suspect is the Jones replacement this year while Lew is for sure the Dillon guy in reserve.
Some aspect of Nichols style reminds me of a smaller, young Eddie Lacy
 
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Your point on Dillon is not just opinion, it’s factual. Dillon has essentially the same number of 1st Downs (-1) on far less carry count than Aaron Jones. As you stated, It’s not because of YPC either. Dillons 1st down % to carry should be lower than Jones, not higher.. as proof.

Dillon received more short yardage carries than Jones last season, that explains why his percentage of runs resulting in a first down were higher.
 

milani

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Dillon received more short yardage carries than Jones last season, that explains why his percentage of runs resulting in a first down were higher.
That is the case. But then look at why Dillon gets those short yardage carries. If you are on the one yard line who has a better chance of crashing to the end zone? If you give those carries to Jones likely he gets stopped even more times. But the bigger question is why our offense still struggled on 3rd and short and inside the 10 yard line.
 
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That is the case. But then look at why Dillon gets those short yardage carries. If you are on the one yard line who has a better chance of crashing to the end zone? If you give those carries to Jones likely he gets stopped even more times.

It's not surprising that Dillon receives more short yardage carries than Jones, I was just replying to another poster suggesting it's a surprise that he nearly got as many first downs despite receiving fewer carries.
 

milani

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With our team the PT with Dillon and Jones was not that of one feature back and a speller as was even the case when Jamal Williams was here. MLF goes with who is hot and who fills the bill. So we do not really have a #1 back every week. It is more of a rotation. And it has been a good mix although our blocking was not as good last season for them. Now when Ahman Green was here he was definitely our feature back. But in situations Mike Sherman used Najeh Davenport because of his size and Tony Fisher because he had good hands as a pass catcher on swings and screens. But when Hornung and Taylor were paired in our backfield it was Jimmy Taylor who got most of the rushes. But inside the 10 yard line Lombardi believed there was no one better than Paul Hornung.
 
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Nichols is nearly an ideal example of how vital the OL is. He led FBS in yardage 2 years ago (1,848 yards 16TD) then several of his good OL get drafted (Raimann+Goedeke) and his production was dramatically lowered. It was obviously a big part of that negative impact.

I’m very curious to see what happens with Roschon and Bijan after running behind arguably one of the better OL in College ball. Its not that I don’t think they are great RB’s. But do they need to be behind a Premium OL to be exceptional? Gibbs is another one that benefited from a fantastic OL.

Our OL needs to be better in 2023 than last seasons effort. We need to get back to a top 5 unit and we could be really dynamic on the ground. Sean Rhyan needs to get his stuff straightened out yesterday as he’s walking on thin ice
 
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The Packers haven't had a great run blocking offensive line in a long time. I'm not sure the current one is build to develop into one either.
There’s definitely ? Marks at OL.
Although we’ve thrown quite a few draft selections at OL recently. You’d expect some of those guys to be on the rise this season or next. That’s now 9 players we’ve drafted from 2020-2022, with 7 still in GB.

2023
Zero selections
2022
3rd Round (Rhyan)
4th Round (Tom)
7th Round (Walker)
2021
2nd Round (Myers)
4th Round (Newman)
6th Round (Van Lanen @ Jags)
2020
6th Round (Runyon)
6th Round (Hanson)
6th Round (Stepaniak is out)
 
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D

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There’s definitely ? Marks at OL.
Although we’ve thrown quite a few draft selections at OL recently. You’d expect some of those guys to be on the rise this season or next. That’s now 9 players we’ve drafted from 2020-2022, with 7 still in GB.

2023
Zero selections
2022
3rd Round (Rhyan)
4th Round (Tom)
7th Round (Walker)
2021
2nd Round (Myers)
4th Round (Newman)
6th Round (Van Lanen @ Jags)
2020
6th Round (Runyon)
6th Round (Hanson)
6th Round (Stepaniak is out)

None of these players, aside of Sean Rhyan, excel at blocking for the run though. And with Rhyan struggling in his rookie season as well as getting suspended for using PEDs I'm not sure he will end up making the team in 2023.
 

tynimiller

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None of these players, aside of Sean Rhyan, excel at blocking for the run though. And with Rhyan struggling in his rookie season as well as getting suspended for using PEDs I'm not sure he will end up making the team in 2023.

It's been confirmed Rhyan is going to get work at center...my one close-ish contact has told me that there are many hoping that he can excel there and either push Myers to be better or ultimately be the answer there and allow Tom to not be their best center option which however it seems he may be.

The question will be is your best 5 collectively with Tom at Center...Right Guard or Right Tackle in 2023?
 
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It's been confirmed Rhyan is going to get work at center...my one close-ish contact has told me that there are many hoping that he can excel there and either push Myers to be better or ultimately be the answer there and allow Tom to not be their best center option which however it seems he may be.

The question will be is your best 5 collectively with Tom at Center...Right Guard or Right Tackle in 2023?
Yeah that sounds right. I also read just recently Rhyan is competing at RG and Center.
 
D

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It's been confirmed Rhyan is going to get work at center...my one close-ish contact has told me that there are many hoping that he can excel there and either push Myers to be better or ultimately be the answer there and allow Tom to not be their best center option which however it seems he may be.

The question will be is your best 5 collectively with Tom at Center...Right Guard or Right Tackle in 2023?

We'll see, I have a hard time believing Rhyan will present an upgrade over Myers at center though.
 

tynimiller

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We'll see, I have a hard time believing Rhyan will present an upgrade over Myers at center though.

I think the broadcasting and having Rhyan and Tom both taking snaps or working out at center is as much "light a fire" in Myers as it is truly thinking either will be week 1 starter there. Now Tom actually has some center snaps background so he isn't as far fetched one could say.
 

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ahh, The time of year when every underperforming asset is tried at various positions to see if they have anything to offer the team before the real stuff starts and unheard of or under dog kids are the stars of camps never to be heard from again. :)
 

milani

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ahh, The time of year when every underperforming asset is tried at various positions to see if they have anything to offer the team before the real stuff starts and unheard of or under dog kids are the stars of camps never to be heard from again. :)
It is the grim reality. But not always. Maybe someone will surprise us. There was this short school teacher who once wrote a letter to Vince Lombardi for a tryout. His name was Willie Wood. And the rest is history.
 
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D

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I think the broadcasting and having Rhyan and Tom both taking snaps or working out at center is as much "light a fire" in Myers as it is truly thinking either will be week 1 starter there. Now Tom actually has some center snaps background so he isn't as far fetched one could say.

There's a chance Tom might end up being the starter at center in week 1 but I definitely don't feel comfortable about Rhyan. In my opinion it's possible he doesn't even make the roster.
 

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