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Aaron Jones rewards Packers for devotion to run game

Pro Bowl running back registered 170 total yards, two touchdowns in win over Chicago


GREEN BAY – Coming off a season-opening loss in Minnesota, the Packers pretty much called their shot about what was needed to get the offense going.

A healthy dose of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

That was the message Head Coach Matt LaFleur relayed to his running backs in the week leading up to Sunday's regular-season home opener against the Chicago Bears.

"Coach came out and said it, 'We're going to get you and AJ the ball more, get you guys more involved.' That just naturally put a smile on my face," Jones said. "I knew I had to show up when my number was called."

Jones energized both the Packers' offense and the 78,350 in attendance at Lambeau Field with another career-defining performance during Sunday's 27-10 win over the Bears.

The Pro Bowl running back racked up 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries (8.8 yards per rush), while adding three receptions for 38 yards and another TD.

After last Sunday's 23-7 loss to the Vikings, LaFleur lamented the fact Jones and Dillon combined for just 15 carries and 23 touches despite having a fair amount of success on the ground.

The duo practically matched those numbers during the first 30 minutes against the Bears en route to Green Bay finishing with 203 rushing yards on 38 carries. It's the third time under LaFleur that the Packers, as a team, have rushed for at least 200 yards.

Green Bay broke the game open in the second quarter thanks in part to Jones and Dillon, who combined for 11 touches for 92 yards in that quarter alone to spark three TD-producing drives.

And the rest of the offense followed.

"We've got two great backs and you look at their ability to make people miss and to break tackles," said receiver Randall Cobb, who had three catches for 37 yards. "Aaron had a hell of a day and AJ provided a big piece for us in the run game. That's where it all starts for us, as long as we can run the ball like that and make that the emphasis, it opens up everything for us in the back end."

Jones' rushing touchdown came on the first play of the second quarter and was a perfect combination of his vision, the offensive line blocking well at the second level and the receivers' willingness to body up defenders.

Allen Lazard, who missed last week's game due to an ankle injury, sealed off Bears linebacker Roquan Smith off the right side to spring Jones for the score.

There were plenty of times Jones and Dillon appeared on the field together, as well. The two-RB package, which was called "Pony" last season, allows the Packers to play around with pre-snap motions and misdirection.

It paid dividends when Dillon threw the lead block on Smith to clear a motioning Jones on his 8-yard touchdown off a push pass from Rodgers later in the second quarter.

"AJ does it all," Jones said. "He catches the ball. He can block. He was blocking their starting middle linebacker Roquan on that and he sprung me into the touchdown. That shows a lot. AJ cares about me. I care about him. We'll lay it all out for each other."

The Packers used the backfield to get the rest of the passing offense going. For example, Chicago had eight defenders in the box when Rodgers faked the handoff to Jones in the fourth quarter on the play he hit Sammy Watkins for a 55-yard pass.

See scenes from the Sunday night matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on Sept. 18, 2022.

Jones was difficult to bring down at the point of attack all night, forcing several defenders to whiff on their tackle attempts. His numbers reflect his elusiveness. Through two games, the 5-foot-9, 208-pound running back is averaging 9.1 yards per carry.

"The thing we have talked about is just being a spark," Jones said. "When you run somebody over or break a long run, you can see that energy from the sideline."

Behind Jones and Dillon, the Packers dominated time of possession (37:15-22:45) while racking up 26 first downs and going 5-of-9 on third downs.

While the Bears had a pretty good idea of what was coming, Jones and Dillon still got their yards – and the Packers hope that's a sign of more positive things to come.

"It says a lot about our offense," Jones said. "You know what's coming, but you have to stop it. That's not easy to do. I just say kudos to our whole offensive unit and our whole team for responding and bouncing back from last week."

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