As Jones explodes, Packers’ offense kicks into high gear

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Gary Seymour, Leader Columnist

If you stood at the podium as often as Mike McCarthy has done over the years, trying to characterize the brilliance of another two-minute drill executed by his quarterback, you’d eventually run out of adjectives, too.

“It was great,” the Green Bay Packers coach said after Sunday’s 35-31 win in Dallas. “I don’t know what else to say. I’ll have to expand my vocabulary.”

A quick dip over to thesaurus.com could have assisted his giving a more electrifying, sparkling, astounding or breath-taking account of the drive that capped another last-second win at AT&T Stadium.

But his point was well-taken. However it was achieved, a road win over the Cowboys was huge, and while five games into a season is far too soon to be thinking big thoughts, there was something about this game that had a watershed feel to it.

For his part, Rodgers was crisp and proficient leading the final 75-yard drive that took nine plays and a little more than a minute. The winning touchdown was the fifth lead change in the fourth quarter alone. It was a great game to watch and an even better one to win.

When Rodgers was asked about the effort of running back Aaron Jones – whose 125 yards rushing included nine carries for seven or more yards – his words were emoted with the high hopes of a guy who thinks he might have found a valuable coin in his change jar.

“He’s a rookie, but his vision is fantastic,” Rodgers said. “Not only does he get through the line, he gets out of bounds. That’s stuff you can’t coach. His cuts, his vision … he ran the ball great. He definitely gained my confidence, and our team’s confidence as the game wore on, breaking tackles and making important runs. That’s what he did all day.”

As their next opponent is the Minnesota Vikings, who have defended Rodgers well over the years, the Packers welcome the timely bump in the offense.

Jones had one of the best days for a Packer running back in a long time. Better still, his acceleration and deft cutbacks led you to believe – or hope, at least – that the franchise with a history of Hall of Fame quarterbacks might have found a long-missing puzzle piece for their backfield.

Whether Jones’ breakout performance was a one-off deal remains to be seen, and there’s good reason to believe that running on the Vikings may be harder than running on the Cowboys.

But his performance against Dallas was too good to ignore, and Packer fans aren’t the only ones jacked about seeing what comes next.

One of the guys opening holes for Jones, tackle Bryan Bulaga, nearly salivated at the thought of the improvement that an elite running back could bring to the offense.

“(Jones) was fantastic,” Bulaga said. “He set up his blocks really well, and he was very patient – you’ve got to appreciate that. When you run the ball so well, it sets up play action.”

We interrupt Bulaga here to point out that Rodgers is a Hall of Fame quarterback by any lights, but that in an effective play-action environment he could reach a video-game level of frightening.

“With (play-action), you’re getting into another dynamic of the game that has to be defended,” Bulaga said. “They can’t just defend the drop-back game. When you have the passing game, running game and play-action game all going, you can be a really, really dangerous offense.”

It’s still early. With injuries plaguing rosters everywhere throughout the league after five games, the only constants are the variables.

The stuff that Bulaga was laying down, though, had an auspicious ring to it. Music to the Packers’ ears is fingernails on the chalkboard to the rest. Defensive coordinators had their hands full preparing for Rodgers as it sat. A breakaway threat in the Packers’ backfield was the last thing they needed.

Veteran sportswriter Gary Seymour’s column appears weekly in the Leader. He can be contacted at sports@wolfrivermedia.com.