The Green Bay Packers have one of the best (if not the best) running back duos in the NFL right now in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. The two compliment each other very well. Jones is a dangerous outside speed threat while Dillon runs best between the tackles. But can Jones and Dillon reach a rushing milestone in 2023 that has never been done in the more than 100-year history of the Packers franchise? That is to have two 1,000-yard rushers on the same team in the same season.

The Closest the Packers Have Come to the Rushing Milestone

The closest the Packers came to getting a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in one season came in 1972. That season, Green Bay’s passing offense was ranked next to last in the league, but the team finished 10-4 and won the division on the strength of their defense and their running game.

John Brockington led the way with 1,027 yards on the ground while MacArthur Lane wasn’t far behind at 821 yards.

Both were big backs with Brockington standing 6’1” and 225 pounds while Lane was 6’1” and 220. They could both run the ball with intensity and strength and they both did a great job of blocking for the other.

The duo was the strength of the offense for three seasons before Brockington slowed down and Lane was traded to Kansas City.

A Recent Near Miss for the Packers

The Packers came close last season as well with Jones picking up 1,121 yards on the ground and Dillon complimenting him with 770 yards.

Had Dillon not gotten off to a slow start, he may have come closer to reaching the elusive 1,000-yard mark.

NFL offenses have changed since the early 70s, so unlike Brockington and Lane, Jones and Dillon were not on the field together nearly as often.

Still, they made a good combination and complimented each other well. Like Brockington and Lane, both Jones and Dillon are good receivers out of the backfield. Their friendly competition also brings out the best in both players.

A Different Backfield Combination

While Brockington and Lane came the closest to this magic milestone, the previous season, Brockington came close also with a different backfield partner.

In 1971, Brockington ran for a career-high 1,105 yards while his backfield mate, Donny Anderson, gained 757 yards on the ground.

After the 1971 season, the Packers traded Anderson to the St. Louis Cardinals for Lane.

Anderson continued to be productive in St. Louis, but he will always be remembered for his time in Green Bay including his contributions to the team’s win in Super Bowl II.

The Packers Hall of Fame Duo

The Packers Hall of Fame backfield of fullback Jim Taylor and halfback Paul Hornung also had some strong seasons. They came closest in 1960 when the league was still playing a 12-game schedule. That year, Taylor rushed for 1,101 yards while “The Golden Boy” added 671.

Hornung scored 15 touchdowns that season, 13 on the ground and two receiving. He also kicked 15 field goals and 41 extra points. That gave him a franchise record 176 points in a 12-game season, a record that stands to this day.

Taylor ran for 11 touchdowns as the Packers finished 8-4 and went to the NFL Championship Game for the first time with Lombardi in the legendary coach’s second season.

What It Takes to Reach This Rushing Milestone

Now that the NFL has a 17-game schedule, it’s easier to reach the 1,000-yard mark. A player needs to average a little less than 59 yards per game to reach that mark. The fact that teams run the ball less often and tend to spread their running attempts around makes it more difficult to reach this magic milestone.

In the long history of the NFL, only five running back duos on the same team have both topped 1,000 yards in a season. The Miami Dolphins duo of Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris were the first in 1972. Four years later, the Steelers backfield duo of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier did it in 1976.

Only one duo reached the milestone in the 1980s, Cleveland combination of Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner in 1985.

In the 2000s, it happened twice with Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward of the New York Giants reaching the mark in 2008 and Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams doing it a year later.

Will the Packers duo of Jones and Dillon reach this mark? They would both need to stay healthy and maintain a strong average yards per rush.

With Jordan Love now under center, the Packers are likely to run the ball more often than they did in recent years, but this will still be a pass-first team.

It won’t be easy, but both players are talented enough to gain 1,000 yards in a season. If they can do it together, they will be the first Packers to reach this rushing milestone.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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