Packers film review: A.J. Dillon flashes huge potential against Titans

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Brandon Carwile
·6 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The future is bright for rookie running back AJ Dillon. The Green Bay Packers drafted Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft with the preconceived notion that he would be terrorizing defenses in cold-weather games at the end of the season. Basically, they thought he would do exactly what he did against the Tennessee Titans.

Dillon totaled 21 carries, 124 yards rushing, 5.9 yards per carry, and two touchdowns in his first game with a profound role. Yes, Dillon has arrived. Now the Packers have to find a way to keep him involved in a backfield that already consists of two quality starters in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.

Against the Titans, Dillon showcased hard-nosed running that helped him accumulate over 4,300 yards in three seasons at Boston College. In the midst of a steady snowfall at Lambeau Field, Dillon delivered a memorable performance in Week 16. He is the first Green Bay rookie to rush for at least 120 yards and score at least two rushing touchdowns in a game in team history.

It will be tough for Dillon to follow up that performance in a crowded backfield. But before we look to the future, let’s look back at his breakout game against Tennessee.

Dillon showed no hesitation filling in for an injured Jones in the Titans’ game. He’s a natural downhill runner, and he showed it from the very start. He locates soft spots in the defense and hits the hole with momentum. The main critique of Dillon here is his knee bend and pad level. His size makes him extremely difficult to tackle, but running upright will make it easier on the defense. If he can learn to run lower to the ground, he will be even harder to bring down.

The Packers’ offensive line did a great job of opening up rushing lanes. Dillon isn’t even touched on this play until he’s already picked up the first down. However, once again, he looks a little rigid. Dillon probably won’t ever turn into a true elusive back, but over time he will need to develop a little more wiggle.

Dillon is your prototypical north and south runner, but here is a play where he could stand to be a little more patient on an outside run. If he falls in behind his blockers for just a second, it may cause Tennessee linebacker Rashaan Evans to lose track of him so he can get that one on one against the corner. However, this is basically Dillon’s game as a downhill bruiser, but as he develops, hopefully, he will demonstrate better patience and a more thought-out approach.

This is Dillon’s bread and butter. Keep him in between the tackles and watch him work.

This run is designed to go to the right, but Titans defensive tackle Teair Tart plays it well. Dillon shows good vision and balance on this play to cut back and put his head down to gain positive yards.

Dillon’s running style makes him perfect for these short-yardage situations. It is also why the Packers will have a hard time keeping him off the field when they need a few yards for a first down or are down on the goal line. Here, Dillon meets the linebacker in the hole and doesn’t give up an inch. He utilizes great forward lean and leg drive to pick up the first down and more.

Sunday night’s game was a nice display of Dillon’s athleticism and balance. On a snowy field, it never looked like he lost his footing. In this example, Dillon does a good job of regaining his balance after the initial hit.

Dillon’s 30-yard touchdown run showed some smooth footwork with his ability to glide into his cut. It also highlighted one of his greatest strengths, which is breaking tackles. When he sees the hole open up, he hits it with conviction. Arm tackles stand no chance against Dillon especially when its one on one. According to Pro Football Focus, he broke nine tackles against Tennessee.

Just a brutal display of power by Dillon on his second touchdown run. He will certainly get his chances when Green Bay is down inside the 10. He can consistently move the pile and can even drag defenders for extra yards.

Dillon might not be as good as Jones or Williams as a route runner or pass catcher, but he’s plenty serviceable. There’s also no reason to believe he will not improve. Dillon appears to possess natural hands, but he will need to be a more nuanced route runner to gain more separation against linebackers.

No matter how you look at it, Dillon’s encouraging outing against the Titans was a pleasant surprise. The decision to use a second-round pick on him looks smart, at the moment, but he will have to continue to perform and improve to be the full-time starter in Green Bay for years to come. If the Packers believe Dillon is their guy, he could take over as soon as next season.

Related

A.J. Dillon highlights vs. Titans include spectacular truck-stick TD

Studs and duds from Packers' 40-14 win over Titans in Week 16

List

Highlighting all potential playoff scenarios for Packers entering Week 17