Currently, Green Bay Packers running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are averaging a mediocre 3.3 yards per carry. In the Thursday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones’ 13 carries ended with a whopping 21 yards, 1.6 yards per carry. The Packers were stuffed 22% of running plays according to Football Outsiders. The power success of 50% also places the run game as the 24th best in the league.
For grades according to Pro Football Network’s Offensive Share Metric, Jones is far below the average for running backs. Jones’ 8.67 grade places him at 32nd out of 46 running backs that qualify. The dreadful offensive line does not help Jones’ grade either. With an average run grade of 60 for offensive linemen, left tackle David Bakhtiari falls below with a 55.5 grade. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga lacks the run support for the Packers too. Bulaga’s rough second week dropped his average OSM grade to a 59.5 for run blocking.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been airing the ball out a little over 61% of plays this season. With the Packers zone blocking scheme, Jones is supposed to have lanes open up. Depending on the designed run and the defensive front, the offensive linemen block whoever is in their gap.
However, Jones and the Packers are not succeeding in the inside run game.
In this clip, the Packers are running a fake jet halfback dive. Off the snap, the offensive line jumps off the ball and drives the defenders off the line of scrimmage. The other linemen jump up to the second-level and block the linebackers.
The linemen do not hold their blocks, however. Also, the lack of stalk blocking from the wide receiver breaks the play. The outside linebacker has an open shot on Jones while the backside defenders rip through the blocks and support the contain defender.
If the receiver makes the block, it becomes either a 1-on-1 with the corner or safety.
Once again, the offensive linemen make valuable blocks off the snap. However, the lack of containing the defenders pops back up. Bulaga struggles to remain blocking his defender and loses him. Also, the receiver cannot crack block in time, and the outside linebacker plugs the hole. Jones’ lack of elusiveness and power does not allow him to make a play when trapped. Therefore, the defenders crashed in and stopped Jones before he could score.
Although the Packers are rated highly on runs to the right end, they rank 16th in runs to the left end, 28th in runs to the left tackle, and 13th in runs to the right tackle. In addition, Football Outsiders has the Packers ranked 27th in open field yards with 0.18.
Jones PFN OSM grade falls side-by-side with these DVOA grades. His Week 3 grade finished at an abysmal -0.21, 36th out of 37 ranked running backs.
Philadelphia lines up with eight in the box. The Packers then have the numbers to make Jones have another 1-on-1 with the cornerback. However, the outside tight end on the left side of the line misses a vital block. The receiver plans to crash down and crackback block the outside linebacker, while the tight end has the strong side inside linebacker, so Jones does not have to deal with a chase-down tackle.
Instead of making the block, the tight end misreads the defense and blocks the outside linebacker. Nobody blocks the inside linebacker, allowing him to have a wide-open shot on Jones with outside leverage.
Once the toss is caught, Jones adjusts his running lane to the sideline, since the linebacker shuts down the interior gap. Jones adapts his run and is only able to pick up a minimal gain.
On this play, the Eagles have seven in the box. With a defensive end, outside linebacker, and cornerback, the left sweep was already going to be a struggle. As Jones’ gets the toss, all the gaps are sealed, forcing him to run laterally instead of upfield. The lack of support caused a 4-on-3 favor for the Eagles and an easy stop for the defense.
Nick Zeller-Singh is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering the PFN Film Room. You can follow him @zickster21 on Twitter.