It is extremely rare that any NFL team has two 1,000-yard rushers in a single season. In the more than 100-year history of the league, it’s only been done seven times and never by the Green Bay Packers.
The closest a Packers duo came was 1972 when John Brockington gained 1,027 yards and MacArthur Lane added 821. The Packers finished 10-4 that season and won their only division title of the 1970s.
The milestone was first accomplished in 1972 by the 17-0 Miami Dolphins who had both Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris top 1,000 yards in a 14-game season. The last time a team reached that milestone was 2019 when the Baltimore Ravens had running back Mark Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson top the 1,000-yard mark.
One thing is clear, the Packers have two running backs who are both capable of gaining 1,000 yards in a season in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Last year, Dillon led the team with 803 rushing yards on 187 carries and averaged 4.3-yards per attempt. Jones gained 799 yards on 171 runs and averaged 4.7-yards per carry. Both went over 1,000 combined yards from scrimmage when adding rushing and receiving yards.
Jones has already topped the thousand-yard mark twice in his career. He gained 1,084 in 2019 and then set a career high in 2020 when he picked up 1,104 yards.
Dillon’s 2021 total was his career best rushing mark but that was only his second NFL season and the first year where he saw extensive action. The former Boston College star is considered an ascending player who has yet to reach his prime.
There are many things working in the duo’s favor as they try to accomplish this rare feat. They extra game added to the schedule certainly doesn’t hurt. It also helps that the Packers are expected to run the ball more often now that Davante Adams is with the Raiders and the receiving corps lacks a proven, dominant player.
The way Packers coach Matt LaFleur utilizes the duo is also helpful. Last season, Jones and Dillon were not on the field together too often and while this may happen more often in 2022, it still will not be the norm. This means that Dillon and Jones will both help give each other breaks and help keep each other fresh in the process. That should make them more effective when they are in the game.
The Packers offensive line should also be better at run blocking than it was a year ago with Josh Myers and David Bakhtiari expected to return to the lineup and eventually Elgton Jenkins will do the same. The two starters at guard will have to win competitions to earn the job. Both rookies Zach Tom and Sean Rhyan are considered strong run blockers and Jon Runyan and Royce Newman should be better in their second years as starters if they return to the starting lineup.
Obviously, there are also many obstacles to reaching this total. Both running backs will have to stay healthy and play nearly all 17 games this season. A lengthy injury would derail any hopes of reaching the thousand-yard plateau.
The two runners also will need more attempts than they had in the 2021. While the Packers are expected to run the football more than they did last season, they still have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and are still expected to throw the football more than they run it.
In each of Jones’ 1,000-yard seasons, he had more than 200 rushes which is only 12.5-per game over a 16-game season and is just 11.8-per game in a 17-game campaign. That means he would need to carry the ball another 29 times more than he did in 2021.
Both runners are also likely to need to average more yards per attempt to get the job done. Of the 14 players involved in having two, thousand-yard rushers on a team, only two of them averaged less than 4.5-yards per carry during the season.
Dillon averaged 4.3-yards per rush a year ago and will either need to get more carries or average more yards per rush to get to 1,000 yards. Jones has a career mark of 5.1-yards per rush so last season’s 4.7 was a bit of an off-year for the former UTEP star.
Could the Packers have two 1,000-yard rushers in 2022? Yes. Is it likely? Not really. It’s more of a long-shot. But watching Jones and Dillon try to become the first Packers duo to reach that milestone will be an exciting journey.
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