GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the bye week doesn't yield more touches for Aaron Jones, then perhaps nothing will.
He's the Green Bay Packers' most productive running back, yet you'll find him nowhere on the NFL's list of leading rushers -- not with just 32 attempts, or 8.0 per game since he returned from suspension in Week 3.
His 5.9 yards per carry average ranks fifth in the league among all backs with at least 32 carries.
Much of that, according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, has come on his own.
Among all backs with at least 30 rushes this season heading into the Packers' bye last week, no one had the blocking advantage -- defined as how many blockers versus defenders in the box -- less often than Jones. According to those numbers, only 41 percent of his runs have come with a blocking advantage, while teammate Jamaal Williams has had the blocking advantage 64 percent of the time but averages just 3.8 yards per carry.
As long as Mike McCarthy coaches the Packers with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback, there's little chance that the offense will be anything close to balanced. Why would it be when one of the best quarterbacks in recent history is at the helm? But even with that caveat, the imbalance through six games has been out of whack.
The Packers' dropback percentage of 71.4 percent -- that's pass attempts, sacks and scrambles -- is at its highest since 2008, when Rodgers became the starter, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's significantly higher than the team's mark (63.4 percent) from 2008 through '17. Only one time has the Packers' full-season dropback rate exceeded 66 percent, and that was in 2016, at 69.1 percent.
As a result, the Packers ranked third in passing yards but just 20th in rushing yards per game when they returned to work from their bye week on Monday.
Among the first exercises McCarthy put the team through following the break was a version of his "across-the-hall" meetings, in which the defense scouts the offense and vice versa. It's a program McCarthy implemented years ago but has tweaked over time.
"We’re fortunate, I think we drop back and throw the football as well as anybody ever -- period," McCarthy said Monday. "I think that’s reflected in our two-minute drill. I think our two-minute … we were talking about this this morning. It’s a strong suit because we’ve got it invested, and what [Rodgers] brings to the table, and also makes our team better, makes our defense better. The dropback component of throwing the football has been the strength, but the action pass is where you want to do a better job, especially we’ve got to get the run game [going].
"The run game needs attempts. That's really the biggest thing that came out of the self-scout, as I've been talking about here, I think, every week."
McCarthy has been asked weekly about getting Jones more involved. Jones got his first start in the most recent game, a 33-30 win over the 49ers. On the first play from scrimmage, Rodgers used Jones as a decoy for a play-action bootleg -- which hid Jones' weakness in pass protection -- and hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a 60-yard pass. Jones turned the next play into a 16-yard run to the 49ers' 1-yard line. Yet he touched the ball just seven more times all game to finish with 41 yards on eight carries in a grand total of 19 snaps, while Williams played 27 snaps and Ty Montgomery 26.
To be sure, the Packers were in a pass-heavy mentality while playing from behind in the second half, but you won't find an offensive lineman who wouldn't be down for more run blocking.
"I think it speaks to our effectiveness for him to feel confident in it after doing an evaluation," Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari said when presented with McCarthy's post-bye evaluation of the run game. "Of course, at the end of the day, I think any offensive lineman enjoys running the ball. With that, we have to deliver on our end. If he's going to give us more at-bats, we've got to make sure we're consistent in our attempts."
Will Jones be the one at the plate more often? His speed could get him that chance. According to the NFL Next Gen stats, Jones has hit the line of scrimmage at an average speed of 11.3 miles per hour. That was second-fastest in the league behind only the Falcons' Tevin Coleman (11.4) and well ahead of Williams (9.6). That has allowed Jones to get downfield an average of 2.2 yards before a defender gets within a yard of him, the best rate in the NFL and well ahead of Williams (0.5).
"You look at every component of it," McCarthy said of the run game. "You look at the intents of the call, obviously the blocking scheme. Did it match the anticipated defense? The big, common-sense approach is you want to practice the things you're going to see in the game. And when you get into unbalanced football games, as we have, you're doing things that you really didn't practice that week, more basic, situational things because you're playing from behind. So that's part of it. But yeah, you look at the yards after contact as a common statistic that's out there. But we always spend the time, particularly this week, looking at the why."