“I … believe we have the best running back duo in the league,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in his latest Murphy Takes Five column at Packers.com.
Is Murphy right? That’s an unanswerable question. Running back production is about talent, to be sure. But it’s also about usage and blocking – two things that are out of a back’s control.
So, ranking one back against another can sometimes be an apples-to-oranges conversation. No matter how you slice it, Jones and Dillon were one of three tandems in which both players topped 1,000 rushing-receiving yards last season.
They are both three-down backs, providing coach Matt LaFleur the flexibility to ride the hot hand, regardless of down-and-distance situations, and to use them in tandem.
Asked last week if Jones and Dillon could be on the field more together in light of the upheaval at receiver, Dillon replied “I can’t give you the secret sauce here”.
But the theory that you just brought up is very intriguing to me. I would love to see that. That’s my guy and so we’ll make it happen.” Here is a look at top 3 tandems in which both players are productive veterans. No one-back wonders (Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris), rookies (Isaiah Spiller joining Chargers star Austin Ekeler, for instance) or chronic injuries (Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey) allowed.
No. 3: Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
Williams, a rookie last season, and Gordon, a veteran from Wisconsin, powered the offense.
With both players topping 900 rushing yards, Williams had 1,219 yards from scrimmage and Gordon added 1,131. They combined 2,350 total yards, 71 receptions and 17 touchdowns but also five fumbles.
Williams ranked No. 1 in broken tackles per rushing attempt, according to PFF The addition of quarterback Russell Wilson might mean fewer opportunities but fewer defensive eyes.
No. 2: Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers
With 799 rushing yards, Jones fell short of his third consecutive 1,000-yard campaign but finished sixth among backs with 52 receptions.
In Year 2, Dillon emerged with a team-leading 803 rushing yards and an impressive season as a receiver. Jones (1,190) and Dillon (1,116) combined for 2,306 total yards, 86 receptions and 17 touchdowns.
No. 1: Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
Chubb is one of the great backs in the NFL. He rushed for 996 yards as a rookie, then topped 1,000 yards the past three seasons.
His career average of 5.3 yards per carry ranks sixth in NFL history. Last season, he finished fifth with 1,433 total yards and was No. 2 among backs in yards after contact per carry.
Former Pro Bowler Kareem Hunt added 560 total yards. Throw in D’Ernest Johnson’s 671 yards, this trio piled up a whopping 2,664 scrimmage yards, 61 receptions and 17 touchdowns.