The Green Bay Packers scored 30-or-more points for the second time all season against the Panthers last Sunday. It was also the first time they scored 30 since Week 1 against the Bears. But one thing both games had in common was they were the two best performances of the season by Packers running back Aaron Jones.

Aaron Jones Impact on the Packers Offense

Jones has endured a frustrating season in 2023. He played well in the Packers Week 1 win in Chicago, gaining 127 combined rushing and receiving yards and scoring two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he injured his hamstring while scoring his second TD. That caused Jones to miss the next two games and then after briefly returning for the first meeting against Detroit, he had to sit out a few more contests.

Just as Jones was returning to form, he suffered a knee injury against the Chargers. He was active again against Tampa Bay but was again on a play count. He ran exceptionally well on the opening drive but saw only limited touches for the rest of the game.

Historically, Jones has had a big impact on the Green Bay offense. The former UTEP star has gained 100 or more yards rushing 18 times in his career. The Packers record in those games is 16-2. He has 23 games in his career with 20 or more touches and the Packers won 20 of them.

Aaron Jones Helped the Packers Win in Carolina

Against the Panthers, Jones finally was able to go all out and be on the field without a strict play count. The result was 127 yards rushing and 135 total yards. When you add that the offense was without receivers Christian Watson and Jayden Reed and tight end Luke Musgrave, getting a strong performance from Jones was even more critical.

“Obviously, we all know what type of player Aaron Jones is,” quarterback Jordan Love said after the win over Carolina. “Just being able to get him back 100 percent healthy was huge, and he had a great day rushing the ball. [He] made some plays in the pass game, too. Whenever we can get him back 100 percent, try and get him the ball as much as possible. We know what type of player he is.”

“Any time you have a back the caliber of Aaron Jones, it really opens up other things in your offense,” added head coach Matt LaFleur. “Shoot, we ran a couple [quarterback] keepers today, that was great, and you can’t do that unless you’re running the football effectively.”

Jones earned a game ball. When giving it to him in the locker room, LaFleur told the team, “This is the first time this year we’ve had a 100-yard rusher. 33 was on fire. Give it up for Aaron Jones.”

Aaron Jones Remains Confident

Despite the injuries he’s dealt with this season, Jones remains confident he can continue to make an impact for the Green Bay offense. He’s 29 now, which is considered old for an NFL running back, but he’s undaunted.

“Finally getting back healthy, I feel like I showed people, a lot of the doubters, people who may be saying, ‘Oh, he’s getting too old. Blah, blah, blah.’ It felt good.”

As for being fully healthy, he acknowledges he’s not. “I wouldn’t say I was fully 100%, but who’s ever 100% in December?” Jones explained. “But definitely getting back to myself and feeling better each week as the weeks go on. Hopefully next week I come out there and I am 100%.”

Getting off to a quick start for the second week in a row was important to Jones and it set the tone for his big game. “It felt good, especially to see those first two runs go the way that they did,” Jones said. “It was good to be back out there in that rhythm with my guys, feeling it in the zone. They did a great job of just blocking things up for me and getting movement and allowing me to run.”

Teammates appreciate what Jones brings to the team. “That’s how he’s been, he’s been that dude,” said wide receiver Romeo Doubs. “It’s easy outside looking in to speak on what he’s done. He’s had some trials and tribulations throughout the course of this year, but I’m not surprised that he played the way he did because that’s how he always plays.”

The Packers Aaron Jones Dilemma Down the Stretch

The Packers have two games left on their schedule. If they win them both, they have a better than 90 percent chance of qualifying for the playoffs according to the New York Times.

Obviously, the offense works best when the elusive Jones is in the game and plays a big role in the offense.

But the Packers star runner typically plays 55-60 percent of the team’s offensive snaps when he’s healthy. Against Carolina, he played 52 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

Should LaFleur risk playing him more frequently in the final two games in an all out big to make the playoffs? Or is it too risky to play the 5’9”, 208-pound running back and risk losing him again to an injury?

Over the long term, the Packers still need to decide whether to bring Jones back in 2024, but that’s a decision that will be made during the offseason.

For now, one thing is for certain: the Pack will need Jones to play well if they are to win their final two games.





Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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