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28 Days Until Training Camp: Jones, Dillon and Best Rushing Tandems

“I think we can be the best running back tandem in the NFL,” AJ Dillon said during OTAs. Could they be the best in franchise history? Here are the numbers.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – It was only one game but, oh, what a tantalizing game it was.

With Jamaal Williams inactive for the Week 16 against the Tennessee Titans, Aaron Jones had a typical Aaron Jones game with 10 carries for 94 yards, highlighted by a 59-yard dash. It was rookie AJ Dillon, however, who stole the show. With only 24 carries through the first 14 games of the season, the second-round pick came off the bench and rumbled 21 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

Combined that night, Green Bay’s presumptive backfield tandem for the 2021 NFL season rushed 34 times for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think we can be the best running back tandem in the NFL,” Dillon said during OTAs. “You look at us and you see thunder and lightning, which absolutely we are. But the lightning guy, Aaron, he can also grind out some yards. And the thunder guy, myself, I’d like to say I can still beat some guys running away from them.”

Take their Week 16 production over the course of the new 17-game season, Jones and Dillon would combine for 3,706 rushing yards this season. That’s a preposterous number, of course, but it begs the question of top backfield tandems in franchise history.

Led by one runner’s prolific season, there’s a landslide winner. In 2003, Ahman Green had the best season of his career and one of the better seasons in NFL history with 1,883 rushing yards (plus 50 catches). Najeh Davenport chipped in 420 yards. Combined, they rushed for 2,303 yards. That would equate to 2,447 yards over 17 games.

In 1962, Jim Taylor had the best season of his Hall of Fame career with 1,474 yards. Tom Moore chipped in 377 yards, giving them a 14-game total of 1,851 yards. That would equate to 2,248 yards over 17 games.

That wasn’t the best season involving Taylor, though. In 1961, Taylor rushed for 1,307 yards and fellow Hall of Famer Paul Hornung added 597 yards. That’s 1,904 yards over 14 games, projecting to 2,312 yards over 17 games.

In 1971, John Brockington rushed for 1,105 yards and Donny Anderson contributed 757 yards. That was a 14-game total of 1,862 yards, which would project to 2,261 yards over 17 games.

The best campaign for the mighty duo of the Brockington and MacArthur Lane era came in 1972. Brockington rushed for 1,027 yards and Lane added 821 yards. That was a 14-game total of 1,848 yards, which would project to 2,244 yards over 17 games.

In 2013, Eddie Lacy had his best season with 1,178 rushing yards and James Starks added 493 yards. That was a 16-game total of 1,671 yards for a 17-game projection of 1,775 yards.

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Dorsey Levens’ best season came in 1997 with his 1,435 rushing yards. No. 2 on the team was Brett Favre with 187 yards. That was a 16-game total of 1,622 yards for a 17-game projection of 1,723 yards.

What about Levens and Edgar Bennett? Both were excellent runners but never at the same time. Their combined best season was the championship season of 1996. Bennett rushed for 899 yards and Levens for 566. That’s 1,465 yards, or a 17-game projection of 1,557 yards.

The best campaign for the duo of Jones and Williams came last season. Jones rushed for a career-high 1,104 yards and Williams just missed his career mark with 505 yards. That was a 16-game total of 1,609 yards for a 17-game projection of 1,710 yards.

Ranking the Packers Series

30 Days Until Training Camp: Potential cuts

29 Days Until Training Camp: First-year starting QBs

Nos. 75-77: Coy Cronk, Willington Previlon, Jack Heflin

Nos. 78-80: Delontae Scott, Carlo Kemp, Bronson Kaufusi

No. 81: WR Bailey Gaither

Nos. 82-84: WRs Reggie Begelton, Chris Blair, DeAndre Thompkins

Nos. 85-88: LBs Ray Wilborn, Scoota Harris; OL Zach Johnson, Jacob Capra

No. 89: G Jon Dietzen

No. 90: K JJ Molson