So, Is Aaron Jones Still a Bellcow Back?

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings running back room was a mess last season, and then injuries made it worse. Moving on from Alexander Mattison this offseason, Aaron Jones has swapped allegiances to take over, but should he operate as an unquestioned lead back?

So, Is Aaron Jones Still a Bellcow Back?

Minnesota Vikings fans have seen Aaron Jones run rampant as an opponent for the past seven seasons. Jettisoned by the Green Bay Packers after declining to take a pay cut, he simply moved to their chief rival. He’ll come into training camp as the starter, but playing in his age-30 season, it’s worth wondering just how much run he should get.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

With a yards-per-carry career average of five years, his 4.6 yards per attempt last season was a career low. He also played in just 11 games due to injuries, and you could question the production because of those injuries. When the Vikings brought Mattison back to replace Dalvin Cook as the starter, he was told he’d get the lion’s share of the reps. Jones was likely promised a similar sentiment, but giving him breathers may allow him to stay fresh.

There is no question that Jones replacing Mattison is a significant talent come-up for Minnesota, but that only matters if he can go every week. By utilizing Ty Chandler as more than just a change-of-pace option, the Vikings could alternate each runner and hope to use them in tandem.

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) tosses the ball in the stands after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter of the wild card playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, January 14, 2024 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

A dual-threat strategy would give Kevin O’Connell’s offense multiple different looks, and Chandler looked the part of a legitimate threat when finally unleashed late last season. He may not be worthy of featuring, but if he can spell Jones and provide production independently, the pair could form one of the better backfields across the NFL.

The Vikings head coach has never been a run-heavy playcaller, and even with Jones, that shouldn’t be expected to change. Still, utilizing a room complete with two talents who should both be able to start is hardly a bad game plan. Chandler’s development as a pass blocker is a large part of the equation, but assuming that’s something where strides are taken, then the opportunity should be there.

Aaron Jones
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota is going to get plenty from Jones this season, but how much they ask of him may also reflect how much they can count on him.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.