The disappearance of Aaron Jones

After touching the ball 10 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, running back Aaron Jones received only six touches for 15 yards during the second half of the Green Bay Packers’ loss at Seattle.

For a team short on playmakers with Jimmy Graham lost in the second quarter with a finger injury, Randall Cobb inactive and Geronimo Allison on injured reserve, Jones’ limited role perhaps played a big role in the 27-24 verdict.

What happened?

— Green Bay only ran 23 plays and gained three first downs in the second half. (Plus, having gone 3-of-11 on third down, they ran only 49 plays for the entire game.) That limited the opportunities to get Jones involved.

— So did the play-calling, whether it was coach Mike McCarthy’s calls or quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ checks. On eight first-down plays in the second half, the Packers threw on seven of them.

— One play that didn’t count was Jones’ 18-yard run early in the third quarter, with a needless block in the back by receiver Equanimeous St. Brown overturning one of Green Bay’s only explosive plays in the second half. This was vintage Jones. Sprung into the open field by left tackle David Bakhtiari’s dominant block on Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner, Jones exploded into the secondary. One Seattle defender dove at Jones but didn’t lay a finger on him. Jones was contacted at the 39 and drove forward for 7 more yards.

— On a third-and-3 with 4:41 left in the third quarter, after a 7-yard run by Jones, Jones was replaced by fellow running back Jamaal Williams. Rodgers called timeout but Williams stayed on the field. Rodgers was sacked – Williams was open in the flat but would have had to beat the safety one-on-one to get the first down. It was Williams’ only snap of the second half.

— With Green Bay clinging to a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter, Rodgers dumped the ball off to Jones for a gain of 1. Had Rodgers pulled the trigger faster on the checkdown, Jones would have had time to set up the defenders. Instead, he caught the ball and was immediately chopped down.

— On the next play, Rodgers threw a quick pass in the flat to St. Brown that was incomplete. It very well could have been a pass all the way. If it was a run-pass option, the handoff to Jones was wide open because of the double-team block by left guard Lane Taylor and center Corey Linsley.

— On the next play, third-and-9, Rodgers uncorked his best pass of the night, a gain of 57 to Davante Adams. Jones stayed in for pass protection and clearly held the safety but no flag was thrown.

— On first down at the 17, Rodgers was in trouble and flipped the ball to Jones for a gain of 1. Jones did well to get back to the line of scrimmage.

— On second-and-9, the Packers used the same bunch-set sweep to Jones that resulted in the opening-drive touchdown. The blocking wasn’t nearly as good this time. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin shocked Adams back and made the tackle. That, with about 9 1/2 minutes remaining, would be Jones’ final touch of the night.

— On third-and-5 from the 12, Rodgers was sacked. Still with a clean pocket, Rodgers could have tossed the ball to Jones, who was all alone at the 16 and would have had a chance to get to the 7 for the first down. A field goal made it 24-20.

— Now trailing 27-24, Green Bay started its last possession at its 25 with 5:08 to play. On first down, Jones was open immediately at the 26 and would have gained at least a few yards. Instead, with the rush closing in, Rodgers threw off his back foot in the direction of St. Brown for an incompletion. A second-down pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling gained 8 and a third-down pass to Valdes-Scantling didn’t even reach Valdes-Scantling’s feet. On fourth-and-2, McCarthy sent out the punt team rather than let his Aarons – two-time MVP Rodgers and NFL yards-per-carry leader Jones – try to keep the drive alive.

Seattle ran out the clock and, with that, the Packers’ season clock is close to running out, too. Jones played 44 of 49 offensive snaps. The lack of touches, especially considering the number of injuries depleting the offense’s options, seems inexcusable. 

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