Michael Strahan, former NFL player and current Good Morning America host, reflects on the most-recent Super Bowl.
“The ‘I’ve Never Been More Motivated in My Life Now to Go and Win a Super Bowl’ is a quote from the football player, Tim Tebow.” Read more in detail here: alcoholics anonymous.
A.J. Dillon, a running back for the Green Bay Packers, is all in. The 2021 season did not finish as Dillon and the Packers had hoped, but the big, bruising running back is eager to put the disappointment of the playoff defeat behind him and use it to fuel him for the future.
Dillon has all of the necessary qualities to be Green Bay’s X-factor in 2022 and beyond, and he’s poised to lead the Packers back to the summit.
A.J. Dillon wasn’t the most popular Green Bay Packers draft selection.
Many of General Manager Brian Gutekunst’s critics were not thrilled when Dillon was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft (choice 62). After all, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams were already on the Packers’ roster. Outside of running back, they seemed to have other draft needs. Dillon seemed to be a luxury decision for a club with serious needs at the time, particularly because the Packers had just picked a quarterback, Jordan Love, the night before.
Nonetheless, Gutekunst regarded Dillon as having the raw talents and stature to be the sort of tough, downhill running back who might flourish in Matt LaFleur’s system, so the Pack took a chance on him.
He was third on the depth chart behind Jones and Williams in his first season, so he didn’t have much of a chance to show himself. In 2021, Williams became a free agency and signed with the Detroit Lions, making place on the depth chart for Dillon to fill the role of Robin to Jones’ Batman. To his lightning, thunder.
Dillon entered the 2021 season looking large, mean, and eager to run people over, and he did just that.
In 2021, Dillon enjoyed a breakthrough season.
Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon #28 celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter | Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Jones was still Green Bay’s leading back in terms of billing, but Dillon rapidly established himself as an important part of the attack, and he became the 1B to Jones’ 1A. In reality, when it came down to it, the two running backs were almost evenly matched in touches, with Dillon actually outperforming the veteran. Jones carried for 799 yards and four touchdowns on 171 carries. Dillon was assigned 187 carries, which he converted into 803 yards and five touchdowns.
The Packers’ backfield established a wonderful symmetry, and Dillon was a big part of it. The Packers would alter it up and have Dillon go north and south just as opponents were getting acquainted to Jones’ explosive and shifty running style. He dragged a large number of defenders for yards after collision. They had no option but to hold on for the ride as he lowered his shoulders and churned his feet.
Dillon developed into a remarkably effective pass-catcher for such a big runner. Out of the backfield, he caught 34 catches for 313 yards and two scores.
“You want to be diversified and dynamic receiving the ball out of the backfield, particularly someone his height and build,” Jones explained Dillon’s pass-catching skills on the official website. “When (Dillon) enters the game, they may fill the box and declare, ‘Oh, they’re going to run the ball.’ But no, he’s also capable of catching the ball out of the backfield.”
In 2022, Dillon is planning a return tour.
Green Bay Packers’ A.J. Dillon #28 celebrates a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings | Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Green Bay and, more especially, Door County, the peninsula of land between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, have welcomed Dillon. Do you have any doubts? Check out his key to the county, which he received in recognition of his “ongoing affection” for the region.
With that in mind, it’s understandable that he took the 49ers’ playoff defeat personally. After all, he’s a devoted Wisconsinite, and the Packers are practically the lifeblood of the state.
Green Bay had all the makings of a Super Bowl club, but it would be an understatement to suggest the team struggled in the playoffs. This was a team capable of bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay for the second time. Dillon and his teammates, on the other hand, will be watching the Super Bowl like the rest of us.
They’ll also be entering a tumultuous offseason, with the Packers expected to be over $50 million over the salary cap. When it comes to expectations, one of them is change. One of those changes might be Aaron Rodgers’ departure from Green Bay as the starting quarterback.
Whatever happens, Dillon, who is under contract through 2023, has said that he intends to utilize the disappointment of the 2021 season to spur both himself and the Packers forward.
“I’ve never been more driven in my life than I am right now to win a Super Bowl,” he remarked. “I don’t know when it’ll happen, where it’ll happen, what it’ll look like, or how we’ll get there,” he said. “But as long as I’m here with the Green Bay Packers, that’ll be my No. 1 motivation moving forward.”
Dillon has been and will continue to be an X-factor for the Packers on the field, but he also projects to be a key member of the team’s roster and locker room in the future.
Dillon seems to be ready to lead the charge as the team enters a period of uncertainty.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provides contract information.
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