Where there was once one dependable Aaron in the Green Bay Packers offense, there now stands two.
Aaron Jones rushed for 7.2 yards on 13 rushes with three touchdowns in last Sunday’s 24-16 home win over the Carolina Panthers, making him the first Packers running back to log multiple three-touchdown games in a season since Jim Taylor, who did it three times in 1962. It was also his fourth multi-touchdown game of the season, pushing his total touchdown count to 14 and tying Panthers star Christian McCaffrey for the current NFL scoring lead.
That’s led to plenty of his Packers teammates putting his name in the race for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award in 2019.
“Well, I know that Christian is a very talented player and he has been mentioned in the MVP race,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in Sunday’s postgame, “so maybe it’s time to start talking about Aaron Jones.”
Rodgers hasn’t been the only one singing Jones’ praises. Second-year wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling retweeted Tuesday a breakdown of red zone scoring percentage among the league’s rushers, which has Jones leading the field by nearly 20 percent. The third-year Packers rusher has 11 touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts in the red zone this season.
“I don’t see why not, man,” Packers star wide receiver Davante Adams said Monday when asked if Jones should be considered for the prestigious award. “I mean, if they’re talking about McCaffrey as MVP, I don’t see why not. They’re both getting a lot of touches and Aaron’s making them count, man. I’ve made it pretty clear about how I feel about our one-two punch, so he’s leading that thing and he’s been doing a great job, really consistent. His body’s been holding up — knock on wood — so I don’t see why not.”
Beyond his 14 total touchdowns, Jones has 943 yards from scrimmage with 589 rushing and 354 receiving and has thrived in big-game atmospheres, including a four-score performance against the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry World. But does his resume have enough to improve his prospects for winning the prestigious award?
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The Case for Aaron Jones as the 2019 MVP
For Jones to be accomplishing what he is as a complement to a healthy Rodgers is impressive all on its own, but his candidacy for the league’s most valuable doesn’t hold too much water when looking back at the award’s quarterback-dominated history.
A running back hasn’t won MVP since Adrian Peterson finished with 2,097 rushing yards, 217 receiving yards and 13 rushing touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012, and Jones hasn’t exactly entered the same realm. The same could be said when comparing him with the only three others to win the award this Millenium, — LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers) in 2006, Shaun Alexander (Seahawks) in 2005 and Marshall Faulk (Rams) in 2000.
Even if the league were to select a running back for MVP, Jones wouldn’t be the top choice. McCaffrey is outpacing him with 1,385 total scrimmage yards in just nine games for a league-best 153.9 yards per game. He currently sits tied with Rodgers, actually, with the fourth-best odds to be named MVP, according to OddsShark.
Dalvin Cook is also putting in better numbers for the Vikings with league-leading 991 rushing yards and a second-most 424 receiving yards among NFL rushers.
In reality, none of the three running backs are probably going to win in 2019 with the quarterback trio of Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson all playing like superstars for their teams. They each have better odds, with Wilson leading the charge Monday night as the Seahawks handed the San Francisco 49ers their first loss of the season.