The national media isn’t giving the Green Bay Packers much of a chance in the NFC North in 2023.
With Aaron Rodgers taking over at quarterback for the New York Jets, most analysts don’t think the Packers will play much of a factor in the division race.
It’s understandable — no one knows what to expect from Jordan Love over a 17-game season — but it’s not wise to completely discount the Packers. Green Bay has talent and they nearly made the playoffs last season despite lackluster play from Aaron Rodgers.
If Green Bay is going to challenge the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North, they’ll need running back AJ Dillon to play at a higher level than he did last season.
Dillon, a former second-round draft pick out of Boston College, took a step back in 2022. After rushing for 803 yards and catching 34 passes for 313 yards in 2021, Dillon rushed for just 770 yards and caught 28 passes for 206 yards in 2022.
While it’s not like Dillon dramatically regressed, he still didn’t take a step forward like many expected.
The Packers are expecting the 25-year-old to have a more productive season in 2023.
Green Bay running backs coach Ben Sirmans didn’t hold back while discussing him this week, telling reporters that Dillon needs to get off to a better start this season.
“I thought he could’ve been playing at a more aggressive level,” said Sirmans while discussing Dillon. “And then we talked about it, watched the tape, he saw what I was referring to and then he applied what we talked about to moving on.”
“And understanding that, it’s gotta be right from the start,” continued Sirmans. “Hey, we know the things that we like that you did last year and when you played this way you are very effective, but when you play this way, you weren’t. So, we need to start off this way. So, there will be more of an emphasis on how we need to start.”
“This wasn’t the type of year and expectations that, not only he had for himself but from what I had for him and what others in this building had for him,” added Sirmans. “I think that he’s the type of person, at least from what he’s shown me, that he’s going to respond to that challenge and come out and have a much more productive year. And you saw a lot of great things in spurts, but that was just the problem, it was just in spurts. It wasn’t consistent, and that’s what our goal is.”
A productive AJ Dillon — especially with Aaron Jones approaching 30-years-old — is extremely important to Green Bay’s playoff hopes.
If Dillon can take that next step as a running back, it will take a lot of pressure off Love and it’ll give the Packers their best chance to compete in the NFC North.