The Green Bay Packers have been without star running back Aaron Jones for the last two weeks due to a calf injury suffered in practice. Thankfully for Green Bay, they have Jamaal Williams as their 1B as Matt LaFleur refers to him. Williams, or JSwaggDaddy as Packer fans know him, has seized his chance as the starting running back and has played a vital role for the Packers offense in Jones’ absence. With Williams becoming a free agent this offseason he has also proved that he is a starter in the NFL.
Williams headed into this offseason following Aaron Jones’ breakout season knowing that his role would predominantly as his backup. That didn’t change the way he approached his offseason training. He spent his offseason in Arizona with his trainer Luke Neal and transformed his body and game. The focus this offseason was on staying in shape and improving his passing game. Williams did both of those things under Neal’s guidance.
“We are working on his conditioning and route runnings right now. He looks like a route runner now. We will go out and throw and people will say, ‘Wow, he runs routes like a receiver.’” Luke Neal posted multiple videos this offseason showing the work and progression that Williams was showing. One of Neal’s biggest conditioning tools is old school hill sprints.
The hill not referred to as “Thrill Hill,” is where you could have found Williams every day this offseason. He mentioned on the “Jamaal Williams Show,” that he would puke every day that they ran up the hill until the last week of training. He was pushed relentlessly in order to improve his cardio and mental toughness heading into this season. William’s teammates took notice. Aaron Rodgers mentioned how impressed he was with the shape that Williams came to camp in. Matt Schneidman of the athletic reported that his body composition improved from 17% body fat to just 7%. Williams jokingly gave some of the credit to limiting the amount of PB&J sandwiches he ate in a day, but dodging rattlesnakes up Thrill Hill was transformative.
As mentioned above, another focus of the offseason was to improve his route running and impact in the passing game. Through seven games, Williams has posted 183 receiving yards, including a career-high 95 yards against the New Orlean Saints. He is only 79 yards away from a career-high in receiving yards for a season. He is currently on track to finish the season with 401 receiving yards. Currently, that would be more than Joe Mixon, James Connor, and Dalvin Cook.
As a starter for the Green Bay Packers this season, Williams has allowed the offense to function without missing a beat. He is averaging 76 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards per game started. If you average those out as a 16 game starter, Williams would be on track for 1,216 yards receiving and 512 yards receiving. Aaron Jones tallied 1,084 rushing yards and 474 receiving yards during his breakout campaign last season. Williams’ numbers as a starter have him finishing around running backs like Josh Jacobs, James Robinson, and James Connor. Williams has the capability to put up numbers compared to the top backs in the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers will be without Jamaal Williams this week against the 49ers. Williams is considered high-risk after being in close contact with Packers rookie running back AJ Dillion who test positive for COVID-19. Williams was a crucial part of the offense against the Texans and Vikings allowing Rodgers the continued success of play-action. He is also the team’s top pass blocker in the running back room. The Packers will wish they had him against a 49ers team, even though injured, that can rush the quarterback. The sack numbers might not be there this season, but the 49ers are pressuring the QB on 26% of the dropbacks (5th in the NFL).
Williams’ dynamic play as well as his pass blocking, is going to be missed this Sunday against the 49ers. If Williams has shown anything these past two games, it is that he is a starter in the NFL, and the Green Bay Packers have a tough decision ahead of them this offseason.