This is the next in a series of articles providing an in-depth analysis of each position group on the Green Bay Packers. Today we will analyze the running backs. For our look at the quarterbacks, click here.
The grades will be for each unit as a whole but we will provide analysis of each player, their strengths and weaknesses and a quick analysis of where they stand heading into the offseason.
The Packers rushing offense finished 15th in the NFL in yards gained on the season and averaged a healthy 4.6-yards per attempt which ranked 12th.
Here are the grades for the Packers running backs in 2022. The marks are based on a combination of expectations and performance.
Aaron Jones led the team with a career-high 1,121 yards rushing this season. The former UTEP star averaged 5.3-yards per carry and remains a threat to break a long run any time he touches the football.
Jones was the catalyst for the offense for most of the season. He is a good, one-cut runner with good vision and speed. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield and caught a career-best 59 passes for another 395 yards.
While Jones was the most consistent weapon the team had all season, he did have some issues. He fumbled five times including a crucial one in the season finale against Detroit. His failure to switch hands with the ball when running on the outside was the partial cause of that miscue.
His touchdown total also went down significantly in part due to Matt LaFleur’s play calling in the red zone and the offensive line’s inability to open holes close to the end zone when there’s not a lot of room to maneuver. Jones ran for just two touchdowns which was a career low. He did catch five touchdown passes which was the second highest total in his six NFL seasons.
Jones turned 28 this season. He is scheduled to have a cap hit of approximately $20 million in 2023, a high number for any player let alone a running back. GM Brian Gutekunst has indicated he wants to bring Jones back and has plans to restructure his deal to reduce his 2023 cap number. Of course, this will kick more cap money down the line and the team will have to pay for it eventually.
Jones is a great fit for LaFleur’s offense and the Packers should do everything they can to bring him back. His had a good work ethic, is great in the community and the team can ill-afford to lose him.
A.J. Dillon was the number two back and he’s a good compliment to Jones. Dillon weighs 250 pounds and has some of the biggest thighs of any back in the league.
The Boston College alum gained 770 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
Dillon got off to a slow start this season but played better in November and December and scored six touchdowns in a five-game stretch from Weeks 12-17.
He also caught 28 passes for 206 yards on the season but was not as involved in the passing game as expected this year.
Dillon is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will be back in 2023.
Patrick Taylor filled in as the third back and spent the season alternating between the active roster and the practice squad. Taylor exceled on special teams and played just 33 offensive snaps. He ran 10 times for 31 yards and caught one pass for 17 yards.
The reason Taylor kept getting elevated from the practice squad and eventually put on the active roster is his ability to pass protect and contribute on special teams. The former Memphis star is likely to fight for a roster spot again next season.
Kylin Hill played only two games after returning from a knee injury before being released. He had one carry for seven yards but attitude issues are a likely reason for the team’s decision to cut him loose.
Tyler Goodson was the star of the preseason but spent the season on the practice squad. He did not play a snap for the team during the regular season but signed a futures contract with the Pack to return to training camp next season and compete for a roster spot. If he improves his pass protection skills and shows he can contribute on special teams, he has a better chance of making the roster.